Atheist Oklahoma High School Student Protests Ten Commandments In Classrooms

Author: May 12, 2013 4:50 am
Gage Pulliam

Whistle-blowing high school student, Gage Pulliam. Photo from www.patheos.com. www.patheos.com

A young high school junior attending Muldrow High School in Oklahoma, contacted the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation), because plaques of the Ten Commandments were posted in all of his classrooms. He kept his identity anonymous at first, then later decided to reveal himself. His name is Gage Pulliam, and he is an Atheist.

After the school received a call from FFRF threatening to sue the administration, if they did not take down the plaques, some Christians took up arms;

“It’s Christianity under attack within our own country,” said Josh Moore, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Muldrow, Oklahoma. “The irony can’t be missed by anyone who’s lived in this country or grown up in this country.” .

My first response? Oh, please. An attack? What if I told you, Pastor Moore, that under my rights as a Muslim, I want to have the Koran posted next to the Ten Commandments. Or how about as an Atheist, I’d like my views on there being no God, posted in all the classrooms. Let that roll around in your brain for a few minutes. This country was partially birthed from people who wanted to get away from religious restraints. We are a nation founded on freedom of religion. We are not a Christian nation of free religions.

A petition was started in the school by some of the Christian students to save the Ten Commandments plaques. A parent of of one of the students told local KHOG, she supports the students’ efforts:

“If other kids don’t want to read the Ten Commandments, then they don’t have to,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean that they have to make everyone else do what they want.”

What? Does she realize the contradiction in her statement?

Another parent said:

“I moved here in 2001 from Texas. The first thing I saw when I went to a parent teacher conference was the Ten Commandments. Then I noticed the lack of school violence, lower number of teen pregnancies. It was a pleasant surprise,” McGee said.

“Now it’s almost like a fear is gripping this small community because God is being removed and when God is removed something else will take its place,” he said.

Again my response is.  Please. God’s not going anywhere because of signs being take down.

Of course, under U.S. law, the plaques are likely to be taken down. Not because there is anything wrong with them, but because placing them in classrooms goes against the separation of church and state — an early principle established in the U.S. Constitution. Since public schools are funded by American taxpayers, specifically Christian doctrine does not belong there.

Even lawmakers see that Christians are fighting a losing battle here:

“A majority of teachers and students didn’t agree with the Freedom From Religion Foundation letter, so they contacted myself and Senator Mark Allen. After talking with numerous Christian organizations and constitutional lawyers, it became clear that the superintendent and local school board has no choice but to remove the plaques if they want to avoid a lawsuit,” State Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, said.l

I think most agree with Gage Pulliam. Nobody wants others trying to force-feed their religion down our throats. More and more extremists are appearing in the media, and  calling themselves Christians, as if it makes them exempt from wrong-doing. F*ck that. And look at the WBC (Westboro Baptist Church) using God’s name to spew their hate. They’ve even named their website “GodHatesFags.com.” I imagine if there is a hell, God has a very special place for WBC. And let me tell you, WBC … This does NOT go over well with most Christians,  just as the Taliban does not go over well with most Muslims. Sadly the extremists have the louder mouths.

I commend Gage Pullian for speaking out courageously. I imagine he might make a great lawyer one day.

So now what? Well, Pastor Moore is printing up 1,000 t-shirts with the Ten Commandments for the students who wish to wear them on Wednesday. That’s okay. What’s not okay is the peer pressure that will take place on that day. What’s not okay is the harassment and unkindness Gage Pulliam and his younger sister are receiving from schoolmates. And what’s not okay is ignorance, bullying and religious brow-beating.

The good news? Young people in our our country are taking a stand for what they believe. Last week another feisty high school student in Texas stood up to an unresponsive teacher in his classroom for a better education. A fellow student recorded it on their cell phone, posted the video to YouTube, and it went viral.

This week Gage Pulliam spoke out for his rights, and Christian students will join him in protesting on Wednesday. If done peacefully, whether we agree or disagree, it will be another great day in American democracy. Welcome you young feisty activists.

I had to do some soul-searching before writing this story. I am a Christian. To me, that means living the way Jesus Christ taught us. Of course, I fail miserably on most days. I have spiritual ‘persuasions’ in Buddhism and look for the good in other religions. This messes with some people in my Bible study group. Yes, some Liberals do such things. The group accepts, because that’s what Christianity really teaches. Sure, some roll their eyes when I start on my, “Gay is Okay with God” rant. And some agree with me. The bottom line is, we have respectful conversations about religious issues.  We talk about how we can help others in need,  and how we ourselves can grow. Christianity goes beyond  the words that have been transcribed over centuries and taken out of context to meet the agenda of some less than loving folks.

For a refreshing liberal and left-wing view of Christianity, visit:  The Christian Left

(The author, Leslie Salzillo, is an activist, political commentator, diarist and visual artist. Salzillo often writes diaries in Daily Kos, and began contributing to AddictingInfo.org in March 2013.

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4 Comments

  • digitusmedius

    There are actually 647 commandments scattered through mostly Leviticus and some in Deuteronomy. If christians are going to follow the commandments they’d better do them all or quit pretending to accept the bible as “god’s word.” If they continue doing what they’re doing it’s called blasphemy and it’s a ticket straight to the hell they say they believe in.

  • Buddhism has 8 commandments. I don’t mean the Eightfold Way, either. The first 5 are for all Buddhists and the last 3 for monks. However, a Buddhist should set aside one day a month to practice all 8. The last 3 are (in modern terms) No TV, No Music and No Financial Transactions. Don’t touch cash or a credit card. The first are commandments against murder, stealing, adultery, lying and drugs.

    I prefer the term “commandments”. A lot of people call them the Eight Precepts.

  • the “ten” commandments are Jewish in origin.

    Not one person seems to be concerned with their feelings.
    Or rights.

    If a teacher see no or less violence in a school, it is because they’re not paying attention.
    Ten Commandments can be posted across battlefields, violence would not be lessened one iota.

  • I consider my real home to be Van Buren, Ark., just north of Fort Smith on the Arkansas and Oklahoma border. I went to trade school in Oklahoma City in 1960. I think I have a pretty good understanding of Arkies and Okies. It is unfortunate that both are afflicted with these so-called “Christian” fundamentalist who are unable to tolerate anyone with a non-fundamentalist opinion. In this region, an atheist is regarded almost as evil as the devil. I admire this young free-thinking student from Muldrow (a short distance from Fort Smith). How other students treat him and his sister is the real mark of what sort of Christians attend Muldrow High School. Our nation is doomed to failure if these fundamentalist insist on forcing their the-world-is-6000-years-old nonsense on students who wish to get a real education. Alas, for now, these “Christian” ignoramuses seem to be winning in Oklahoma and Arkansas. It would be nice if Pastor Moore would pick up a science text book once in a while and put his KJV Bible aside for an hour or two while he reads it. I recommend he give science equal time with King James every day – but don’t hold your breath.

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