Are you aware of your own prejudices? Think you don't have any? Hmm...maybe not. Often we tend to make presumptions about people based on factors unrelated to who they really are. People who are prejudiced against folks who have a different skin color, for instance, are unlikely to have a good reason for their prejudice and may well have had and kept their views since childhood. Racial prejudices and hatreds are hard flames to put out and with many different organizations and prominent individuals who make a living because of such hatreds the problem worsens. But racial prejudices are not the only common ones, for instance, speech patterns and inflections are another area of prejudices. Plenty of folks from the North hear a Southern "twang" and immediately make presumptions about intellect and other things. Conversely, when Southern folks hear a "Yankee" accent they will tend to make the same mistake of assuming things about that person.
The music and accent of Southeastern "mountain folk" is actually very similar to the music and accents of the Englishmen who were the majority of imports to the area during the formation of the American Colonies and then the nation, USA. I am not a big fan of Wikipedia but here is a link concerning Appalachian Music that is pretty good. Just as the color of my skin does not define me, neither does my accent or the area of my birth. Theoretically people understand this but unfortunately prejudices persist and are passed down from generation to generation. All that to say that people from West Virginia usually have a distinctive accent that Yankees tend to hear and conclude the speaker is less educated and sophisticated than the average person. I think that is unsupportable prejudicial thinking but it needs to be mentioned before I make this post. The post below is from Karl's site, with quotes in blue as is my wont.
Here is a glimpse of the past courtesy of Karl Priest:
I think Lee. Strobel and I sat and talked during a “recess” period at Fair Haven Christian School during the fall of the 1975 school year.
He was a rookie reporter and an atheist when he came to West Virginia to cover the Textbook War. Later he became an award-winning legal editor at The Chicago Tribune and a New York Times best-selling author of several Christian books. He won a Gold Medallion for this book and it was made into a documentary.
Keep in mind that Mr. Strobel was impacted by propaganda published against the protesters. See the Textbook Protester Truth for facts.
IS DARWIN RESPONSIBLE?From the gleaming office buildings in downtown Charleston to the dreary backwood hamlets in surrounding Kanawha County , the situation was tense when I arrived the next day and began poking around for a story. Many parents were keeping their kids out of school; coal miners had walked off the job in wildcat strikes, threatening to cripple the local economy; empty school buses were being shot at; firebombs had been lobbed at some vacant classrooms; picketers were marching with signs saying, "Even Hillbillies Have Constitutional Rights." Violence had left two people seriously injured. Intimidation and threats were rampant.
The wire services could handle the day-to-day breaking developments in the crisis; I planned to write an overview article that explained the dynamics of the controversy. Working from my hotel room, I called for appointments with key figures in the conflict and then drove in my rental car from homes to restaurants to schools to offices in order to interview them. I quickly found that just mentioning the word "textbook" to anybody in these parts would instantly release a flood of vehement opinion as thick as the lush trees that carpet the Appalachian hillsides.
"The books bought for our school children would teach them to lose their love of God, to honor draft dodgers and revolutionaries, and to lose their respect for their parents," insisted the intense, dark-haired wife of a Baptist minister as I interviewed her on the front porch of her house. As a recently elected school board member, she was leading the charge against the textbooks.
A community activist was just as opinionated in the other direction. "For the first time," she told me, "these textbooks reflect real Americanism, and I think it's exciting. Americanism, to me, is listening to all kinds of voices, not just white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants."
The school superintendent, who had resigned at the height of the controversy, only shook his head in disdain when I asked him what he thought. "People around here are going flaky," he sighed. "Both poles are wrong."
Meanwhile, ninety-six thousand copies of three hundred different textbooks had been temporarily removed from classrooms and stored in cardboard cartons at a warehouse west of Charleston . They included Scott Foresman Co.'s Galaxy series; McDougal, Littel Co.'s Man series; Allyn & Bacon Inc.'s Breakthrough series; and such classics as The Lord of the Flies, Of Human Bondage, Moby Dick, The Old Man and the Sea, Animal Farm, and Plato's Republic.
What were people so angry about? Many said they were outraged at the "situational ethics" propounded in some of the books. One textbook included the story of a child cheating a merchant out of a penny. Students were asked, "Most people think that cheating is wrong. Do you think there is ever a time when it might be right? Tell when it is. Tell why you think it is right." Parents seized on this as undermining the Christian values they were attempting to inculcate into their children.
"We're trying to get our kids to do the right thing," the parent of an elementary student told me in obvious frustration. "Then these books come along and say that sometimes the wrong thing is the right thing. We just don't believe in that! The Ten Commandments are the Ten Commandments."
But there was also an undercurrent of something else: an inchoate fear of the future, of change, of new ideas, of cultural transformation. I could sense a simmering frustration in people over how modernity was eroding the foundation of their faith. "Many of the protesters," wrote the Charleston Gazette, "are demonstrating against a changing world."
This underlying concern was crystallized for me in a conversation with a local businessman over hamburgers at a Charleston diner. When I asked him why he was so enraged over the textbooks, he reached into his pocket and took out a newspaper clipping about the textbook imbroglio.
"Listen to what Dynamics of Language tells our kids," he said as he quoted an excerpt from the textbook: "Read the theory of divine origin and the story of the Tower of Babel as told in Genesis. Be prepared to explain one or more ways these stories could be interpreted."
He tossed the well-worn clipping on the table in disgust. "The theory of divine origin!" he declared. "The Word of God is not a theory. Take God out of creation and what's left? Evolution? Scientists want to teach our kids that divine origin is just a theory that stupid people believe but that evolution is a scientific fact. Well, it's not. And that's at the bottom of this."
I cocked my head. "Are you saying Charles Darwin is responsible for all of this?"
"Let me put it this way," he said. "If Darwin 's right, we're just sophisticated monkeys. The Bible is wrong. There is no God. And without God, there's no right or wrong. We can just make up our morals as we go. The basis for all we believe is destroyed. And that's why this country is headed to hell in a handbasket. Is Darwin responsible? I'll say this: people have to choose between science and faith, between evolution and the Bible, between the Ten Commandments and make-'em-up-as-you-go ethics. We've made our choice-and we're not budging."
He took a swig of beer. "Have you seen the teacher's manual?" he asked. I shook my head. "It says students should compare the Bible story of Daniel in the Lion's Den to that myth about a lion. You know which one I'm talking about?"
"Androcles and the Lion?" I asked, referring to the Aesop fable about an escaped slave who removed a thorn from the paw of a lion he encountered in the woods. Later, the recaptured slave was to be eaten by a lion for the entertainment of the crowd at the Roman Coliseum, but it turned out to be the same lion he had befriended. Instead of eating him, the lion gently licked his hand, which impressed the emperor so much that the slave was set free.
"Yeah, that's the one," the businessman said as he wagged a french fry at me. "What does it tell our kids when they're supposed to compare that to the Bible? That the Bible is just a bunch of fairy tales? That it's all a myth? That you can interpret the Bible any way you darn well please, even if it rips the guts out of what it really says? We've got to put our foot down. I'm not going to let a bunch of eggheads destroy the faith of my children."
I felt like I was finally getting down to the root of the controversy. I scribbled down his words as well as I could. Part of me, though, wanted to debate him.
Didn't he know that evolution is a proven fact? Didn't he realize that in an age of science and technology that it's simply irrational to believe the ancient myths about God creating the world and shaping human beings in his own image? Did he really want his children clinging desperately to religious pap that is so clearly disproved by modern cosmology, astronomy, zoology, comparative anatomy, geology, paleontology, biology, genetics, and anthropology?
I was tempted to say, "Hey, what is the difference between Daniel in the Lion's Den and Androcles and the Lion? They're both fairy tales!" But I wasn't there to get into an argument. I was there to report the story-and what a bizarre story it was!
In the last part of the twentieth century, in an era when we had split the atom and put people on the moon and found fossils that prove evolution beyond all doubt, a bunch of religious zealots were tying a county into knots because they couldn't let go of religious folklore. It simply defied all reason.
I thought for a moment. "One more question," I said. "Do you ever have any doubts?"
He waved his hand as if to draw my attention to the universe. "Look at the world," he said. "God's fingerprints are all over it. I'm absolutely sure of that. How else do you explain nature and human beings? And God has told us how to live. If we ignore him-well, then the whole world's in for a whole lot of trouble."
I reached for the check. "Thanks for your opinions," I told him.
STANDING TRIAL IN WEST VIRGINIA
All of this was good stuff for my story, but I needed more. The leaders I had interviewed had all denounced the violence as being the unfortunate actions of a few hotheads. But to tell the whole story, I needed to see the underbelly of the controversy. I wanted to tap into the rage of those who chose violence over debate. My opportunity quickly came.
A rally, I heard, was being planned for Friday night over in the isolated, heavily wooded community of Campbell's Creek. Angry parents were expected to gather and vote on whether to continue to keep their kids out of school. Tempers were at a boiling point, and the word was that reporters were not welcome. It seemed that folks were incensed over the way some big newspapers had caricatured them as know-nothing hillbillies, so this was intended to be a private gathering of the faithful, where they could freely speak their minds.
This was my chance. I decided to infiltrate the rally to get an unvarnished look at what was really going on. At the time, it seemed like a good idea.
The book is on line at http://books.google.com.
In fact, when school prayers were outlawed in 1962 by fiat of the Supreme Court, the foundations of American Society were already being eroded. When Darwinism became accepted by the scientific and academic communities in the early 20th Century, socialism found an open door philosophically into the classrooms and lecture halls of America. Some folks think that the day the Supreme Court allowed babies to be murdered was the day America began to die. Some folks think it happened when prayer was banned. I think it happened when communities turned their schools over to government agencies and relaxed their purview over the education of their children. By the time the Kanawha Textbooks Wars began, that war was actually a battle in a larger war that was being waged against faith and morality in the USA and much ground had been lost already. Elitist leftists socialists intended to control the classrooms and the laboratories and then they would get their mitts on government. In point of fact this has been exactly what has happened in the USA and ordinary Americans are just beginning to realize it.
Kanawha (referring to the entire textbook/worldview war) is sometimes given credit for bringing conservative Christians out of the home and into the voting booths. Some folks believe the exodus of many Christian families to the safe havens of Homeschooling was begun in 1974. There are those who believe that Kanawha was the beginning of the modern Tea Party, albeit far in advance of the modern movement. It is certain that Kanawha was a factor in the rise of homeschooling in America.
For Lee Strobel, the coverage of the Kanawha Textbook Wars led to a personal search for answers to questions that arose in his heart and mind following his coverage of the controversy. He made a journey from atheistic Darwinist typical of secular journalists to committed Christian dedicated to getting the Word out that Jesus Christ is Savior and the evidence supports creation rather than *poof* (my word for the magical series of inexplicable miracles Darwinism asserts in the place of actual evidence).
Here is the description of this particular Strobel book from the Biola University website:
The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God
For a finishing kick, some information about prayer in schools and how public schools became secularized. The following is excerpted from the website linked in the title, below:
You are here: Popular Issues >> Prayer In Public School (Precedents)
Prayer in Public School - Overview of Governing Constitutional Principles
The history of prayer in public school is a story of legal interpretation. The relationship between religion and government in the United States is governed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which both prevents the government from establishing religion and protects privately initiated religious expression and activities from government interference and discrimination. The First Amendment thus establishes certain limits on the conduct of public school officials as it relates to religious activity, including prayer.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment requires public school officials to be neutral in their treatment of religion, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religious expression such as prayer. Good News Club v. Milford Cent. Sch., 533 U.S. 98 (2001); Everson v. Board of Educ., 330 U.S. 1 (1947). Accordingly, the First Amendment forbids religious activity that is sponsored by the government but protects religious activity that is initiated by private individuals, and the line between government-sponsored and privately initiated religious expression is vital to a proper understanding of the First Amendment's scope. As the Court has explained in several cases, "there is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion, which the Establishment Clause forbids, and private speech endorsing religion, which the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect." Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 302 (2000).
Prayer in Public School - Drawing the Line of Permissible Expression
The Supreme Court's decisions over the past forty years set forth principles that distinguish impermissible governmental religious speech from the constitutionally protected private religious speech of students. For example, teachers and other public school officials may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible, or other religious activities. Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962); School Dist. of Abington Twp. v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963). Nor may school officials attempt to persuade or compel students to participate in prayer or other religious activities. Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577, 599 (1992). Such conduct is "attributable to the State" and thus violates the Establishment Clause. Weisman, 505 U.S. at 587.
Although the Constitution forbids public school officials from directing or favoring prayer, students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Community Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969). In addition, the Supreme Court has made clear that "private religious speech, far from being a First Amendment orphan, is as fully protected under the Free Speech Clause as secular private expression." Capitol Square Review & Advisory Bd. v. Pinette, 515 U.S. 753, 760 (1995). Moreover, not all religious speech that takes place in the public schools or at school-sponsored events is governmental speech. Santa Fe, 530 U.S. at 302. For example, "nothing in the Constitution ... prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the school day," and students may pray with fellow students during the school day on the same terms and conditions that they may engage in other conversation or speech. Santa Fe, 530 U.S. at 313.
Prayer in Public School - Our Country's Legacy
It wasn't until the early 1960's that prayer in public school was "outlawed" by a new interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. In fact, the history of the U.S. includes prayer and Bible readings in all sorts of public places, including schools. In 1782, the United States Congress passed the following resolution: "The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools."
William Holmes McGuffey is the author of the McGuffey Reader, which was used for over 100 years in U.S. public schools with over 125 million copies sold until it was stopped in 1963. President Lincoln called him the "Schoolmaster of the Nation." McGuffey declared: "The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our notions on the character of God, on the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions. From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology."
Of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 were distinctly Christian, including the first, Harvard University, chartered in 1636. In the original Harvard Student Handbook, rule number 1 was that students seeking entrance must know Latin and Greek so that they could study the Scriptures: "Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, (John 17:3); and therefore to lay Jesus Christ as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him (Proverbs 2:3)."