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Austin Cline

Rising Sun High School: Bigotry Against Non-Religious Students

By May 22, 2010

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Just about every student who has ever tried to start any sort of freethought group, no matter whether at the high school or college level, has had to deal with bigotry to some degree. It's sad that so many Christians in America have become so accustomed to dominating the public square that the presence of unapologetic atheists, organizing and meeting, can become too much to bear.

Skyler Curtis experienced this at Rising Sun High School in Maryland. It started when school administrators recommended against using the word "atheist" in his group's name, which was an ill omen. Almost immediately after posters for "NonReligious Solutions" (NRS) went up, they were defaced and torn down. By Christians. Who objected to atheists simply existing among them... and that's not the end of it.

Things started to get a little too personal for Skyler. "I have been called an idiot for not believing in God which I think is quite rude due to the fact that it is my opinion."

He has even had threats... "I was told by a fellow peer that he would "Jack me up" and that he was not afraid of me because he was a "Crusader.""

Source: Skeptic Money

Oh, great, a self-proclaimed "Crusader" who apparently isn't afraid of going to war against the infidels of his school. And where do you think he learned such attitudes, categories, and language? It's not in the Bible, it's in Christianity's violent traditions and history -- traditions and history transmitted through churches and non-church religious organizations, like those Skyler Curtis noticed were so popular in his school. There is probably no greater demonstration of the need for non-religious solutions than the reaction of such Christians to the existence of people looking for non-religious solutions.

Steve Allen of Elkton actually got this bigoted letter printed in a local paper:

My daughter comes home today and informs me they have started a new club in Rising Sun High School. The club is known as NRS, which stands for Non Religious Society.

The members of this club have proceeded to hang posters along the halls of the school. When a student tore the posters down, because they offended him, he got suspended from school. Apparently the students are not allowed to touch these posters.

To say I was shocked is putting it mildly. My daughter does not hang posters of her Catholic religion throughout the school, and I expect the same type of respect from others. We cannot control what others think or their beliefs, nor do we want to. But I will not have this type of atrocity taking place without having my voice heard.

My daughter has my permission, if she sees these posters around school, to put up her own. I challenge the principal to say one thing about this. I guarantee you do not want a religious war taking place, as I have God on my side and you'll lose.

I'm at a loss to understand why Steve Allen can't figure out that students aren't allowed to tear down the posters of other groups. Being offended at the existence of non-religious students who want to meet just isn't a good enough reason to destroy and deface their advertisements. You can bet that if an atheist student tore down the posters of a Christian student group, they would be suspended as well -- and Steve Allen would probably complain about those nasty atheists. He'd be right to complain, too, because such behavior is wrong and unacceptable from anyone.

This principle of "equality" though appears to be completely beyond Steve Allen's grasp, as demonstrated by the fact that he considers it an "atrocity" for non-religious students to advertise the existence of an officially approved student group, but acceptable or appropriate for a single offended student to destroy and deface those advertisements. I wonder if he's any relation to the "Crusader" student quoted above, given how he also seems to have a violent approach to people who dare to publicly dissent from his religious beliefs.

Comments
May 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm
(1) ChuckA says:

“Oh…THAT Steve Allen!”
:roll:
Reading the article, I couldn’t help but remember the ‘famous’ Steve Allen; who, if not an actual atheist, was most likely an agnostic.
He certainly was very secular; and received awards relative to that. If the Post’s parent, named ‘Steve Allen’, was actually named after him; I wonder if he’s aware of just how totally opposite his obvious bigotry is to the former.
As an old Steve Allen fan…”Shmock…Shmock!…I say!”

Related to the famous Steve Allen; raised as a typical Roman Catholic, he became, in adulthood, a definite secularist, and near the end of his life participated in the actual ‘pushing’ of a secularist oriented book titled:
“The Book Your Church Does Not Want You to Read”
For more on that, here’s a 2007 article about the book and Steve Allen’s involvement…
“Godsmack”
[It's a Print page; click Cancel just to read without printing.]:
http://www.ocweekly.com/content/printVersion/52958

And just for laughs…LITERALLY…
a famous clip of Steve Allen ‘breaking up’ on his show, in 1958:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnL0Mnu46z8

May 22, 2010 at 5:19 pm
(2) Phil Ferguson says:

Austin,
thanks for sharing this story with your readers. There is now a part 2 to this story. The non religious student group may have intentionally been left out of the yearbook. Fellowship of christian athletes had a full page photo of students and staff in prayer.

May 23, 2010 at 12:59 am
(3) P Smith says:

The clown who wrote that letter is named Steve Allen?

How unfortunate and/or ironic that such a moron could be the namesake of a prominent atheist. The more famous Steve Allen was the creator and original host of “The Tonight Show”, as well as being an author of dozens of books, including “Dumbth”, an attack on stupidity.

http://www.steveallenonline.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Allen
For no purposeful reason, the Wikidiaper page makes no mention of Allen’s atheism. (It’s called Wikidiaper because it’s full of shit and made for infants.)

The idiot who scrawled the “letter” in crayon said:
“My daughter does not hang posters of her Catholic religion throughout the school”

Yeah, either because she’s not a hardcore believer or she lacks the disrespect that her ignorant father has. Maybe she actually learnt something in school which he didn’t.

There’s also the fact that she could hang posters for a religious group if she wanted to and no one would stop her. And that her posters would enjoy the same protection.

The moron also blathered in wax:
“We cannot control what others think or their beliefs, nor do we want to.”

Oh? By allowing posters to be defaced, by criticizing the suspension of a vandal, that is exactly what he’s doing.

What a typical godfucking dumbass. He’s so ignorant he has probably never heard of his namesake, the legendary Steve Allen, or if he has, is blissfully ignorant of the more famous Allen being an educated atheist (but I repeat myself).

.

May 23, 2010 at 2:04 am
(4) Manuel says:

My, that is just unacceptable. I myself have been considering making a secular group at my school focusing on philosophy, intellectuality, and freethought, but as always I have second thoughts due to the overwhelming amount of religious parents that are likely to object to such idea. And not to mention the raging bigotry on behalf of my fellow students with intellectual pursuits. This story has really touched me, and I certainly hope Curtis gets his group together. I mean, there are Christian Bible Study groups in my school, in many schools, so what could be the problem with secular atheist groups? This world really baffles me. Thank you Austin for sharing this story.

May 23, 2010 at 2:55 am
(5) Aleksandr says:

Gotta love those peaceful and tolerant christians.

May 23, 2010 at 9:24 am
(6) Heather says:

Thank you for posting! I’ve reposted to my atheist facebook group

May 23, 2010 at 12:06 pm
(7) deegee says:

When we read stories about teenagers and young adults assaulting unpopular minorities (i.e. gays, atheists, blacks, etc.) and wonder how they became the way they are, we can point to idiotic parents such as Steve Allen of Elkton and say, “That’s how!”

May 23, 2010 at 10:22 pm
(8) Brian Iverson says:

“And where do you think he learned such attitudes, categories, and language? It’s not in the Bible, it’s in Christianity’s violent traditions and history — ” I disagree. These are exactly the teachings found in the bible. “Being offended at the existence of non-religious students who want to meet just isn’t a good enough reason to destroy and deface their advertisements”. There you go being reasonable and fair. This kind of view just isn’t gonna make any points except with like minded atheist, humanist and such. “This principle of “equality” though appears to be completely beyond Steve Allen’s grasp…”. Duh. You are preaching to the choir (Yikes – could not think of an alternative).
These acts I fear, are just the start of an inevitible process that begins when people fear the loss of their position in their society / country (Fundamentalist christians; and white folks seeing their majority status slipping away; and capitalists that fear the loss of their ability to operate without constraint). The result cannot be anything other than conflict. Most likely violent conflict and being ‘right’ will be useful only when speaking to your troups. The goal of the fundamentalists in this conflict will be to eliminate opposition and to implement adherence to their beliefs and goals (restore their cherished culture).
Saudi Arabia & Iran here we come. Crusades to follow.
I fear that people of reason do not have the economic strength nor the number of ‘followers’ to mount much of a defense let alone an offense against this tide. I fear when push comes to shove most of the moderate or liberal christians (as well as moderate and liberal whites, and small business owners and companies cited as the best places to work) will side with the fundamentalist believers in god, the bigots, and the unfettered capitalists. It will be the most familiar culturally.
To do otherwise will be seen as being overwhelmed by ‘others’ and to become non-existent. Reasoned arguements, logic, scientific evidence, or confrontation with the truth will not change the minds of true believers, nor will it sway most moderates or liberals. The culture of religion (and white culture and capitalist culture) weighs too heavily upon them. They will see that allowing the cultivation of differing (opposing) views only worsens their position and will lead to their oblivion. They are not going to let that happen.
I suggest what lies ahead is not a debate or a struggle to get people to be more open. It will be a struggle for power and control to shape the world we want to see.

May 30, 2010 at 2:19 am
(9) Seriadh says:

“My daughter does not hang posters of her Catholic religion throughout the school, and I expect the same type of respect from others.”

I wonder is this idiot has considered the difference between a religion and a religious group? I’d add to that, “or that an atheist group belongs to neither?” but it’s obvious that his comprehension invalidates even the idea. It’s apparent that everything must be couched in terms of religion for him to be able to relate.

If his daughter were in a school sanctioned Catholic group and chose to put up posters with the intent to both advertise the existence of it and possibly draw in membership from people that had previously been unaware of it, that would be acceptable, certainly. To put up poster of your religious belief on the other hand is proselytizing, and would require the school system to support your particular religion; something they are forbidden explicitly to do. Someone desperately needs to explain the difference to this idiot.

November 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm
(10) dolphingirl says:

Hi,

I Attended Rising Sun High School with the last decade and my enitre crew of siblings and cousins as well as husband and his family as well. I find your article offensive, I agree that this student should be able to voice his opinion but I do not agree that an atheist club should be allowed to meet when other relgious groups are not allowed to meet. When I attended we were required to keep our views out of school not even allowed to pray in school or talk about God, so why should someone else’s view that there is no God or higher power be able to hold a club in the school. If they want to have such a club I think that is fine and dandy I do not have an issue with that,(have is off school property,as well as the posters) everyone has a right to their opinion, that is what is so wonderful about this country but to call it Bigotry is completly offensive to me as well as the other members of this town. All I’m trying to say is that the standards need to be the same for all students .

November 2, 2010 at 6:16 am
(11) Austin Cline says:

I Attended Rising Sun High School with the last decade and my enitre crew of siblings and cousins as well as husband and his family as well. I find your article offensive,

What, exactly, is offensive about it?

I agree that this student should be able to voice his opinion but I do not agree that an atheist club should be allowed to meet when other relgious groups are not allowed to meet.

Who said religious groups aren’t allowed to meet?

When I attended we were required to keep our views out of school not even allowed to pray in school or talk about God,

I doubt that; such expression is protected by law.

so why should someone else’s view that there is no God or higher power be able to hold a club in the school.

It’s protected by law.

All I’m trying to say is that the standards need to be the same for all students .

They are.

July 16, 2013 at 4:19 pm
(12) Anonymous says:

I am currently attending Rising Sun High School. I am forced to look at Christian posters, listen to Christian announcements, and watch Christian commercials at my school all for ‘FCA’ the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In addition to FCA, there is also ‘Jesus Followers.’ Yes, there is a group called Jesus Followers. So my school is not permitted to have an Atheist club, but we are allowed to have Jesus followers. Bravo RSHS, Bravo.

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