Sunday Sermon: Motes and beams

christian_hypocrisyFor quite some time, there’s been a steady stream of Christian schoolteachers getting in trouble for using the classroom as a pulpit, preaching religious messages to their students. Whenever these teachers are called out for their unconstitutional (and unconscionable) attempt to use their position of power and authority to pound religion into the heads of impressionable children, various religious groups are quick to whine about oppression, making the bogus claim that being denied the ability to ram their religion down other people’s throats is tantamount to being denied freedom of speech or freedom of religion.

But now, the shoe is sort of on the other foot — but the big difference is that the other foot doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Hemant Mehta is an atheist — he calls himself “The Friendly Atheist” on his blog, which makes him something of a rival of mine (a friendly rival, as I’m pretty sure I’ve linked to his blog in the past). He’s also a schoolteacher. Does he use his position to “preach” atheism, or otherwise promote it? No, he does not. He keeps his views on religion out of his classroom.

But he doesn’t keep them in the closet. He has a blog on atheism, and he’s active in other ways as well. Because of that, the Illinois “Family” Institute wants him fired.

First, they wrote to his school board to complain about his non-school activities, and when that didn’t work, they started writing letters to parents of kids in his school, urging them to insist that their kids be removed from his classes.

PZ Myers makes an excellent point: If this is how a “Friendly Atheist” gets treated, where’ the motivation to be friendly?

(Pic — and shirt — via

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