Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It Cuts Both Ways

A woman in Kentucky is pissed off that her son was taken by his high school football coach to a Baptist revival, where he was baptized. He was not kidnapped, so that isn’t the issue. I don’t know if he was misled, but let’s analyze all possible scenarios and explore why Michelle Ammons should not be upset over her son, Robert Coffey.

Let’s suppose he didn’t want to be there. Let’s suppose he was lured by the “steak dinner” and “motivational speech.” I once went on a ski trip through a group at my public middle school where some minister made us pray, but experiences like this only serve to cement my dislike for religion. A forced baptism would not traumatize someone, unless you wanted them to be religious… in that case, they’re probably turned off by your cause. A forced exorcism, I can see getting worked up about. This, not so much.

However, let’s suppose he wanted to be there. I know, it’s impossible to imagine this. The poor boy is just sixteen, he couldn’t possibly know any better!

Except… I was perfectly capable of making many adult decisions at sixteen. So are many people. We let people that age take the lives of others in their hands by driving. Frankly, I support lowering all age restrictions to fifteen. So in my eyes, this guy was perfectly capable of making a decision for himself.

Suppose he wanted to be there and his mom is making this huge, embarrassing scene. His mom, who has a different last name than him (either divorced or a feminist; oh the Christian shame of it!). His mom, who is the same person who has probably collectively given him more shit in his life than any other person. His mom, the crazy lady who calls lawyers because her son got dunked in magic water.

The behavior of the mother is what we should be seeking to eradicate, rather than religion in name alone. Fanatical desires to control others while aggressively attacking those who pose you no real threat are the things that make religion worth criticizing.

Perhap sometimes we get so wrapped up in hating everything that we don't notice how wretched we have become.


Since writing this, more has been added to the story. The only detail I find upsetting is that the coach may have taken the whole team; the story implied when I first read it that only some student had gone (so I envisioned it as an invitation event). I want no part in telling adults what they can do in their free time.

However, even if the team was required to go, one should not legitimize the event with legal action. Further, making a Christian suffer publicly in a court room doesn't exactly hurt the religion. The Jews probably thought, "Well, that's the last we'll be hearing of that guy," as Jesus hung on the cross.

Besides, what actually happened? Were these children mind-raped by religion? What really changed between when they woke up that morning and when they went to bed that night? As an atheist, I believe nothing besides memories of boredom will remain of the event. I'm not saying this is something I want anyone to have to do, nor that I support people doing it, but does this open the door for teachers who take kids to natural history museums being sued by creationists who claim they're trying to force evolution on their kids?

Besides, if you hate religion so much, get the fuck out of Kentucky.

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