The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

The World Can’t Take It Away?

As the Delaware Pogrom continues to unfold, over at Even the Devils Believe Chris makes an interesting point that seems to have gotten lost in all the discussion of Obama’s speech, the Dobrich story, and the various consequences of religion in the public square.

Chris points to an article on the Delaware debacle, and notes in particular one aspect of the local reaction.

Last week, hundreds of people showed up at the district’s August board meeting at Frankford Elementary School urging members to keep prayer in the school.

Many begged the school board not to take Jesus away from their children. Others read scriptures from the Bible citing instructions given by Jesus.

“Take Jesus away”? It’s been a long time since I sat in Sunday school (or taught — yes, when I was much younger I taught a Sunday school class. I also come from a long line of baptist ministers. Every branch on our family tree has one, and when I was younger folks speculated that I might “get the call”), but these parents begging the school board not to “take Jesus away from their children” suggests they need to spend less time writing letters to school boards and more time getting their own houses in order.

Chris posts an apt response to the parents’ hysterical pleas. “The ACLU and the Dobrich family aren’t trying to take Jesus away from anyone.” As an ex-Sunday school teacher I’d go one step further and suggest that if the school board and the ACLU can “take Jesus away” then somebody probably never had a firm grasp on him or his teachings anyway.

There’s a hymn I learned, growing up in the baptist church, that came to mind when I read Chris’s post, that repeats this refrain over and over again.

This joy I have,

The world didn’t give it to me.

The world didn’t give it,

The world can’t take it away.

I’m also reminded of a bible verse I learned back in those days.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

If these parents believe that the school board or anyone else can “take Jesus away” — in other words, the world can take it away — and, more specifically, they believe that taking away school sponsored christian-based prayer will “take Jesus away” from their children, then perhaps they need to examine the job they’re doing at home.

If they need the state to inculcate their children in their faith, and if the state’s failure to do so can “take Jesus away,” then maybe they never had much of a “personal relationship” with him or a firm founding in their faith to begin with. If school board, the state or the world can take it away, then maybe they never really got it from the places that were supposed to give it to them in the first place: the home and the church.

And if that’s the case, everything that I remember from my own christian upbringing says it’s the parent’s fault. Not the school board’s, and not the state.