This past year KU's Society of Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics (SOMA) brought in a speaker by the name of Joann Bell. During the 1980's she lived in a small town in Oklahoma to raise her children.
However, the community was extremely Christian and this filtered into the schools with teachers holding prayer sessions during class. Although she too was Christian, Joann realized that this was a breach of the constitution and urged the school to stop. When they refused, she contacted the ACLU and filed a lawsuit.
The town was so outraged that Joann was threatened, harassed and finally assaulted. Her children were also attacked and eventually her home was burned down while the local fire department stood watching.
While that's the short version of the story (for more, go here and find the appropriate section), it's exactly the sort of thing that the secular world recognizes and fears about the religious right.
We're constantly reassured that that was a long time ago and such things don't happen anymore.
But in my last post, I spoke of the religious right being like a child who's claimed never to have stolen cookies. The story of Joann Bell is one of those huge cookies found lying around the house. And yet again, it seems the religious right's hand is in the cookie jar.
In Delaware, another school district has ignored the restriction of religion within their walls. The school has been holding school sponsored prayer, giving special privlidges to students who participated in the school's Bible Club (while rarely funding book clubs), allowing a teacher to tell students there is "only one true religion", and distributing pamphlets for ministires.
Two families have filed suit against the district. One of the families has chosen to remain anonomyous. Meanwhile, the other (Dobrich family) has began facing the same sort of harassment that Joann Bell faced.
Alex Dobrich, one of the sons, has been yelled at to take off his yarmulke during a school board meeting when he stood to read a statement. Alex says he frequently removes the clip of his yarmulke when in public to avoid people from pulling his hair out should they attempt to pull it off. He has also been accused of "killing Christ".
The harassment has become so bad that the Dobrich family has moved two hours away to avoid retaliation.
So while it may seem that experiences like Joann Bell's were a long time ago, it's still more than close enough to remind us of how, dispite their claims, these children will always try to steal another cookie.