What? You are not familiar with Cottondale? It is a small town of less than 1000 people in Jackson County, Florida. And what is the big deal about Cottondale? Well, Cottondale Elementary School just made the decision to not include the nativity scene in this year’s holiday display. It has been a part of the display for years, but this year they were advised by the state Department of Education that they must not do it any more. The DOE “came in and talked to us about the legalities of religion in the school systems and the separation of the two.” So (and are you ready for the punch line?), “trying to be fair to all people (we) decided that we would just not put the nativity scene out on campus.” (Fair to all people, right? And you thought this kind of thing was only happening in larger cities.)
How about this one? A Wisconsin school district has ordered a joint public-private school football team to change its logo after a lone parent said the inclusion of a bishop’s hat and cross was a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Here is what happened. There are two high schools in the district, one public school and the other a private Catholic school. Neither of them are big enough to field a football team. So, they decided to come together and create a team using students from both schools. The logo of the public school is a greyhound, and a bishops hat and cross is the logo of the Catholic school. The schools had a contest for students to design a logo and they picked a winner which combined the symbols of both schools. Halfway through the season, a parent complained about the cross on the helmet because it violated the separation of church and state. As a result of that complaint, the school district ordered the team to change the logo.
Here is another one. A first grade girl at West Marion Elementary School in North Carolina wrote a poem that was selected to be read at a Veteran’s Day ceremony. The poem honored her two grandfathers who served during the Vietnam War. A quote in the poem was, “He prayed to God for peace, he prayed to God for strength.” A parent, seemingly, found out about it and expressed “concern” about the word God being used in a school event. The school superintendent said, “We wanted to make sure we were upholding the school district’s responsibility of separation of church and state from the Establishment Clause.”
Here is the deal. By prohibiting the use of the nativity scene, logo and poem, the various school districts have not removed religion from the schools nor have they separated religion from the state. The atheistic belief that was imposed was actually the replacement of one religious viewpoint with another.
Most Atheists don’t like to admit it, but Atheism is a religious point of view. Many object to that characterization because they consider religion to be associated with belief in God. But there are numerous religions, even major ones (ex. Buddhism, Hinduism) which don’t believe in God. All that is required for a position to be religious is that it be based on faith. There is no empirical evidence that God does not exist, so Atheism is a faith position.
The Christian faith, in particular, is being squeezed to make room for a different faith to be most prominent in the public square. Unless Christians begin to recognize what is actually happening and stand strong, it will not be long before Atheism becomes the default religion of the state, and Christians will find themselves increasingly pushed aside and under persecution.