Posted by Ethan Clow on May 20, 2011
The other day I blogged about the case of Damon Fowler, the high school student who stood up for secularism and asked his school to not violate church state separation, recently a video of his “class night” (a rehearsal for graduation) has made its way onto the internet. A number of skeptics have already been commenting on it, Jen McCreight wrote an excellent piece on it.
Here’s the video in question:
As Jen points out, this isn’t about prayer anymore. This is about singling someone out for mockery, shame, and hatred. This is about saying “I think this way, the right way, all you good folks think like me, the right way, and anyone who thinks differently from us, they’re wrong. They’re bad people. They get what’s coming to them.” The crowd seemed to enjoy the sentiment.
Hemant Mehta, over at Friendly Atheist, has posted a very good time line of events which I think really make it clear that the motivation of the school, its teachers, fellow students and townsfolk is about attacking this young man’s character in addition to intimidation of the worst kind.
Hemant has also set up a donation page for people to help support Damon. This money is not a reward for rattling the cage but rather for Damon’s education. Because of his willingness to stand up as a freethinker, Damon has been disowned by his family. He’s moving to live with his brother and its likely his parents will no longer financially support him. This would spell doom for his hope of attending university. All the money that’s being raised is so Damon can earn a great education and continue to be a great contributor to the free thought community.
Of course you can also help Damon out by liking his Facebook page.
If you head over to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, they have a page set up with the contact information of the school and the school board. I don’t know if they’ll care too much if Canadians write in, but to our American readers, please do take a few moments to send them your thoughts.
Posted in Blogs, Ethan's Blogs | Tagged: Bastrop High School, church-state separation, Damon Fowler, religion, video | 1 Comment »
Posted by Ethan Clow on May 19, 2011
I almost wrote a new low for religion when I heard about this story. Damon Fowler, a high school student in Bastrop, Louisiana is now getting death threats and has been disowned by his family because he stood up for his rights as an atheist.
His local graduation was going to include a prayer, which is of course violating church state separation. Damon complained about this to the superintendent and the prayer was cancelled. The result of this is that he is now a pariah in his town. He is actually getting death threats and is not sure if he could even safely attend his own graduation.
Please check out Damon’s story here and add some comments of support. There is now a Facebook page you can like to help show your support.
Like I was saying, I almost wrote “a new low for religion” but of course this isn’t. This is exactly what you would expect from religion. In fact, this is practically friendly compared to raping children and forced genital mutilation.
My open question to religious believers out there, I don’t care which religion or to what degree you claim to be religious, how do you feel about this? Do you think this high school student deserves to be getting death threats? Do you think this student deserves to be ostracized from his community and disowned by his family?
Undoubtedly, some of you do. Many are thinking right now that these are good Christians in that armpit of a town, Bastrop, and they are doing the Lord’s work: terrorizing a high school student.
Many of you are saying “oh no, we don’t support this. We’re moderate religious folks. We would never condone death threats and such. Heavens no.”
Well moderates, it’s still your fault. We atheists and skeptics will support Damon and try to help his cause. We’ll blog about it and talk about it on our podcasts and write letters. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has already promised Damon a $1000 scholarship for his university education. I’m sure other organizations like the Secular Student Alliance will get involved as well.
But let’s face it. We are still small fish. We can offer Damon our help but what would really turn this tide is religious moderates standing up for this bigotry and hatred and saying “No. I won’t support this.” Where are you moderates? Is this the version of Christianity you support? I’m really curious about it.
Until moderate religious folks start making it clear that this kind of bullshit is unacceptable, moderates are part of the problem. Sam Harris once said that moderates are the shade that fundamentalists recline in (or something to that effect) And its true. With your silence, you give tacit approval for the bullying we see going on here.
Sadly for us Canadians, we can’t just say this is small town U.S.A and we don’t have to worry about it in our country. Let’s keep in mind that in Kelowna our atheist bus ads were stolen off the bus and mysteriously, the transit authorities don’t know anything about it.
Posted in Blogs, Ethan's Blogs | Tagged: Atheism, Damon Fowler, Death threats, religion, Rights | 2 Comments »