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Christian Persecution 2
Community Reactions

Clergy & Christians

Although the children were baptized Lutheran, there were no Lutheran churches available in Ecru, so she ended up taking them to a Pentacostal church. One might think that the fact that the family was Christian and attended a Christian church would lead to some sympathy from the local Christian clergy, but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, many of the Herdahl's problems might be a result of instigation from the clergy.

One Baptist minister, apparently in an attempt to convert what the thought was a heathen, asked her if she would attend his church. Upon learning that she was already going to a Pentacostal church, he informed her that she was going to burn in Hell.

But the Pentacostal church wasn't much better. Lisa learned that one person in that church was telling the Sunday School kids that she was going to Hell. Lisa immediately removed her kids, fearing what her kids were being told if such things were being said when she and her husband weren't around.

Another local Baptist minister, Doug Jones, organized a rally of about 1,500 people after he learned that Lisa had filed a lawsuit to have the religious instruction in public schools halted. There were people in the community who supported the Herdahls, but who were afraid to do so publicly:

Nobody locally would come forward. At work people will come in, see that nobody is around, and come up and basically whisper to me. "We know who you are. We back you, but we can't say anything." One business owner said he was actually told that if he did not put "Religious Freedom" signs in front of his store, ...his business would be burned or boycotted. There is a fear running through the town.

There was actually at least one local clergyman who admitted to Newsday that he was opposed to the religious practices in the public schools. But he asked not to be named, out of fear of what would happen to him.


School Administrators

One would hope that school administrators, public servants who are supposed to help all children, would do something to make things easier. But once again, the reality was far different.

When her son Jason was seven years old, his teacher placed headphones on his head so that he would not hear prayers over the intercom. After the teacher put the headphones on Jason's head, classmates started to call him "football head" and "baseball head." For years after that, continued to be called names by the kids and to be thumped on the head and grabbed by the ears. Teachers made no attempt to stop this.

She made every effort to solve the problem by talking to the school officials. Lisa had many conversations with the superintendent of schools and with the principal and assistant principal about stopping the Bible classes and prayers, but she was informed that this was simply the way things were done. She even went before the Pontotoc County School Board, and although the Board members said that they would "look into" her concerns, she never got a response.


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