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A High Schooler Makes Us Proud, A Community Should Be Ashamed

Damon Fowler is a senior at Bastrop, a public high school in Louisiana. When he found out that his high school graduation ceremony would include Christian prayer, he shared his concerns with the principal and threatened to take legal action if his constitutional rights were to be violated.

As a result, the principal, Stacey Pullen, changed the program and agreed not to have official prayer at the ceremony.

For this, Damon Fowler was ostracized by virtually all his peers, many teachers, and even his mother. As his brother notes, the whole community is against him.

The town is creating mobs at churches as of last night to fight the decision of the school not to go through with the prayer (they didn’t want the ACLU breathing down their necks). Teachers have publicly insulted him.

One of those people was Mitzi Quinn, who said the following.

“And what’s even more sad is this is a student who really hasn’t contributed anything to graduation or to their classmates,” Quinn said.

That’s right. That’s a faculty member dissing a student for not contributing ANYTHING (just so she can justify an action so unconstitutional that it baffles even the most religious of minds).

All of this is bad enough. But guess what? The school let the prayer happen anyways [at a rehearsal, I think]. This went on without interruption, cheered on by Christians.

You can even watch the video.

This is beyond insane. Mobs and mobs of people cheering like it’s a football game. It’s like they win because they have an overwhelming majority.

This is exactly why the separation of church and state is so important. This is why something so seemingly trivial to some – school led prayer – is so fucking important. They’ve proved our point. This girl used prayer as a weapon to separate the Good Christians from The Others. To alienate. To shun. To mock. And even more disgustingly, the community cheers along like a pack of warriors who have defeated their enemy, and laugh condescendingly at the mention of a moment of silence.

Of course, the likelihood that these people are going to make a clean escape is zero. This is so illegal that it’s going to cost the school and the district much more money than they could possibly imagine, and it’s already sparking absolute outrage in the secular community.

But as we wait and see what happens next, there’s one thing I want to say from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you, Damon Fowler. There’s a support group on Facebook, and as you can see, there are many many people supportive of you. There are millions and millions of people around the world not only supporting you, supporting your cause, supporting your right to be treated fairly, but very inspired by you and your courage to fight for what is right.

I’m fortunate enough to have never been in your situation before, and I can only imagine what it feels like. “It’s the loneliest feeling in the world,” as Henry Drummond says in Inherit the Wind.

It’s that feeling when you know nobody sees you for who you are. It’s that feeling when your own mother refuses to talk to you because you’re an “agnostic.” It’s that feeling when you realize “the whole town hates me, aside from a few closet atheists that are silently supporting”. It’s that feeling when you hear people preaching all about love, fairness, and compassion and see those same people acting in the most cruel and illegal ways possible.

Sometimes it sucks to be a high schooler. But let me tell you something. I couldn’t have imagined how different life would be in college. I went to high school in a liberal city, but I still didn’t realize how many opportunities I would get later in life to meet amazingly smart, compassionate, and tolerant people . There are true friends everywhere to be found, and the world is much much bigger than the community you come from.

So my readers, please support Damon by joining the Facebook group and reading the inspirational comments on the Wall.

There’s also a scholarship fund for Damon.


Atheist Runs for Congress

There’s a person by the name of Cecil Bothwell who is running for Congress in 2012 in North Carolina’s 11th District. He is a fellow WordPress blogger, and he has the following to say about his beliefs.

Like about 1 in 5 Americans I don’t profess to believe in God…

I’d note that there isn’t anything easier to lie about than one’s personal beliefs. Given the number of people who hold a poor opinion of atheists, it might be politically expedient for me to claim some sort of theism, but truth-telling is part of who I am. When I look at politicians like Sen. John Ensign and Gov. Mark Sanford, who loudly professed deep Christian faith, and then look at their duplicitous actions, I’m not much impressed with their declarations of belief. In this world I think it better to judge people by their actions than by their assertions.

He recognizes the following concept.

At the same time, freedom of religion necessarily includes freedom from religion, otherwise the idea is meaningless.

His morals don’t come from one of a few ancient books; rather, he lives by a simple rule:

As for my personal beliefs, I try my best to live up to the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I have never heard of any moral code that surpasses that rule, and a world in which the Golden Rule held sway would surely be something like heaven on earth.

The sad thing is that all of this is going to become controversial. He’s going to make the news for absolutely no reason at all. He won’t be singled out for his political ideas, but because he holds common sense, reasonable ideas about religion and morality that happen to differ from the other candidates.

You see, the norm in America is that you have to profess a faith in some supernatural entity, most preferably Yahweh. You get points when you say that you support some level of entanglement between church and state, or that you get your morals from an old book.