A Wisconsin second-grader was barred from handing out Valentines with a Bible verse on them.
This is one of those cases where I’m almost on the fence. I’m on the side of the school, because this is a blatant attempt to proselytize little kids during what should just be a fun little day of candy eating. It’s also irritating that this mother and her son hand-made these little bundles of brainwashing. I hate to see such wasted effort in the world.
But I can also see why people (be they atheist or religious) might be okay with this kid handing out pieces of paper with the words of John 3:16 on them. They’re incorrect, but this is only because people who don’t have a problem with this are not very creative. I, on the other hand, fancy myself to have a rather active imagination.
Consider whether the following Valentine poem would be appropriate for second-graders to hand out:
Roses are red
The ocean is teal
It’s Valentine’s Day
And God isn’t real!
Personally, I don’t think it is. It’s cute, and I don’t mind writing it here, but it does not belong in a second-grade classroom. It wouldn’t be fair to the children of Christians. It wouldn’t be fair to the children of any theists, really. It’s propaganda, it’s meant to persuade, and it’s not what a little kid’s Valentine is about.
I’m all about free speech. I would have no problem telling Mother Teresa to “fuck off” right to her old, rotting face (and I mean when she was still alive). I wouldn’t say it to a kid, though. There are just certain things kids should be free from, like sex, because they are impressionable and it’s easy to take advantage of them.
I don’t even like it when parents teach their own kids to be religious, so of course I’m not going to be okay with some jackass telling other kids to be religious. I wouldn’t press atheism on my or anyone else’s kids. Religion is an adult matter, like sexuality, and it has no place in a child’s classroom.
“But Bret, St. Valentine’s Day is a religious holiday!”
First of all, not really; it’s a fake Hallmark holiday. But secondly, how about this Valentine for a second grader:
Roses are red
Candy is dandy
Here’s a nice card
Now give me a handy
That’s how adults treat Valentine’s Day, so why is that not appropriate for school? Oh right… because they are children. This woman, who wants to make religious statements on her child’s Valentine’s, would probably be the first one in line to complain about atheist or sexual Valentines, so why does she feel her views are superior and need to be pushed on the children of others?
If you want Valentine’s Day to become a culture war between kids from different ideological backgrounds… well, then by all means, try to recruit other people’s kids. Open the flood gates, and don’t even think of complaining if someone tries to convince your kid to go against what you taught them. But honestly… can’t you just buy or make regular, cute Valentines that everyone can enjoy? Is your life so devoid of any real meaning that the only thing you ever think about is religion?