Tales from the Bible Belt: Staff Meeting

So, we had a staff meeting today. Among other things, we talked about cell phone usage. We have a time out room for kids to go to when their behavior is out of control. (I work at a school for kids with emotional disabilities). We stay with them either in the room or just outside, depending on what the behavior actually is, and while the time outs themselves are (or are supposed to be – another rant later about the misuse of that) short, it can sometimes take quite a while for the kid to calm down enough to actually take the time out. So, staff has long been taking their cell phones and playing video games, etc., while waiting for their student to calm down. So, in this staff meeting…”No cell phones”. Really, it’s about time. I’ll be surprised if it’s actually enforced, but at least we have the hard and fast policy now. (Except there were all kinds of exceptions but that’s not the point of this particular rant)

So, one of the staff asked about reading material. “Can we take books back to have something to do while the kid is calming down?”

“No” was the answer. So, one of the other staff said to my Narcissistic Bible Thumping Coworker, “Guess you won’t be able to read your Bible anymore.” (And that’s another rant. He actually used the walkie-talkie system the other day, which interrupts all the classes and is really only supposed to be used in emergencies, to call a staff member away from their job to bring his Bible back to him in the time out area. So, I thought, well at least that will stop).

Imagine my surprise when the principal said, “No, the Bible is okay.”

I couldn’t contain myself. (It’s been a long day and already a LONG, UNBEARABLE year, and I’m so done with this shit). “Why?”

Everyone looked at me like I had purple ears, so I clarified. “Why is the Bible different?”

“Well, because it’s the Bible.” This is the kind of ‘logic’ I deal with all the time.

“So, because it’s the holy book of a specific religion, it’s okay to read that when we’re supposed to be monitoring the kids.”

“Well, yeah. It’s the Bible.”

“So I can take a copy of the Quran or the Torah back there and that would be okay to read.”

“Well, no. They’re not the Bible.”

“They’re holy books of specific religions.”

“Well, yeah, but not the TRUE religion.”

“You realize this isn’t a Christian school, right?”

“Well, maybe not, but Christianity is still the only true religion.”

“So, I, as a teacher of World History, what includes teaching world religions and their impact on ancient and current societies, can’t take back holy books of other religions, that I might actually be able to use in class to…you know…actually teach the SOLs, but a counselor (what we call teacher’s aides, basically), who won’t be able to, or at least shouldn’t be able to , actually use the information in Social Skills…the one class he actually teaches, can take back the Bible…in a NON-Christian school.”

People were chiming in on why that would be perfectly okay, but damn it…this time I wasn’t backing down. I have no clue why I chose this as the line in the sand, but, for whatever reason, I did. Finally, the principal saw I wasn’t going to give up this time (and I’ve mentioned before that a LOT of what goes on in this school would NOT be tolerated if the Department of Education ever got word of it),so he said, “Okay (and he called Coworker by name) don’t take the Bible either.”

Everyone looked at me like I killed their dog and of course I’m once again the evil atheist among all these devout Baptists.

The thing is, though, I DON’T consider myself an Atheist. Until recently I would have said I was a Christian. But the more I see of these people (I moved to this specific area two years ago), the more I want no part of what they call Christianity. But, that’s actually not even the point. The point is that we’re NOT a Christian school, and we’re supposed to follow DOE mandates, which , currently at least, prohibit discrimination on religious basis and prohibit the teaching of one religion to the students unless the  parents sign for their kid to participate in an off campus/ school time bible study. (But that’s another rant too.)

Thanks for letting me rave a little. I’ll now TRY to return to my usually calm-ish self. (Can you tell this works me up a little?)


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