This started as a Facebook status and I quickly realized that it was going to be far too long and more blog-like than status-like. I’ve struggled all week with wanting to write something on the subject of what’s happening in Johnson County Schools and the words have never come to me. There have been moments of anger where I didn’t care if I offended anyone, but I deleted those. There have been moments of pride where I didn’t care if I offended anyone, but I deleted those, too. Honestly, today, I’m just very sad. I’m hurt. I’m broken for how this opportunity was twisted and wasted. I’m worried for my sister and countless friends who teach in the public school system. I’m thinking about Tom Salyer and how he should’ve never been the one in this position considering the law is as old as I am.
I’m also incredibly mindful of Jesus Christ.
By the standards of a lot of folks reading this, I’m not a good Christian anymore. When I married Chad, I requested my name be removed from the church I’d attended since birth because we are considered in adultery (by their understanding of scripture) as Chad was married once before me. I guess that might be the root of my disillusionment with the church, I’m really not sure. I am still very much a Christian. I was baptized at 17 in a creek at the end of February. I believe in and have felt God, and my soul is saved by Jesus Christ. I have maybe been to church 5 times this year. Maybe. Almost every time I go, I hurt. I feel left out. I feel like an outsider. Not because I married a man who had previously been married, I am complete peace with that. But, because I’m liberal, because I believe everyone is equal and deserves all the same rights protected by the government, because I believe in climate change and science, because I’m a *whispers* Democrat. I was in a church earlier this year where the Pastor said from the pulpit that if you vote Democrat, you’ve probably already ‘backslidden’ and the congregation cheered. I got up and walked out. It destroyed me. It hurt. My salvation being in question because of how I vote is not funny to me and never will be. So, maybe I’m not the person to be writing this at all. Maybe I’m not as good as some of y’all.
So, when I see this uproar about Bible verses in public school plays and the rampant outcry to blame a certain family, to blame a certain belief, to ostracize those without belief, it cuts me. Because I am the outsider now. I am looking in, wondering where I belong, if anywhere. I’ve always understood that the ultimate goal as Christians is supposed to be to bring others to Christ. That one single solitary soul being lost to Hell should be enough to keep a Christian up at night. That’s always how I have understood Jesus, His unending love and mercy, and His way. In light of that notion, instead of hitting the picket line, should we have not hit our knees on the behalf of the lost? Maybe I’m wrong and confused about how things work, and I’m open to that. I’m open to the idea that I interpret things wrong. But, the vitriol I have seen from Christians this week has been some of the most hurtful, painful stuff I have ever read. Implying that those in the school system who are abiding by the law of the land are denying God and thus will be denied in Heaven, implying that those who aren’t picketing are ‘pathetic’ Christians. It’s out of hand. It’s embarrassing. It is not Christ-like.
Federally funded public schools are not the place where one religion can be favored over another. To put it simply: Were this situation different and your child or grandchild was asked by a Muslim teacher to read a verse from the Koran in a school endorsed play, you would be livid. You are protected from that by the 1st Amendment just as the folks who don’t want their child taught Christianity in public school should be protected as well. Period. The first amendment also protects your right to teach your children as you please at home, just as my Mother taught me. The concept is not difficult. You are not being persecuted, and the last time I checked, should you believe in an all powerful, omnipotent Great Creator, you’d be hard pressed to take Him ‘out’ of anything anyway. Tom Salyer is protecting his employees, and he’s doing the best he can. He’s a human being with a heart, with a family, and he is not the enemy here. Just a man doing his job. A job he needs to pay his bills, to feed his family, and none of that seems to mean anything to those so enraged and calling for his job. Senseless.
In a world outside of these hills, there are billions of people who don’t believe like you. They walk and they talk and they breathe just like you. They have heartbeats and souls, they are happy, they are sad, they are broken, they are kind, they are alive. They come in all shapes and sizes, all colors, all orientations, all backgrounds. Nothing that happened this week in front of the Johnson County Board of Education brought anyone to see Jesus Christ as He really is. The honk of you love Jesus narrative is beaten and broken and empty. Service, kindness, and unrelenting love are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ that people crave and so desperately need.
Yes, you read that right. Unrelenting love.