Friday, February 23, 2007

Is That Oil On My Desk or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Via Dispatches, here's a bizarre story from the WorldNutDaily. Apparently, to help some kids do well on some standardized tests, the principal of a school in Florida, along with some other Christian staff members, went around after hours on a Friday and prayed for the kids to do well on the test.

Oh, yeah, and they anointed the kids' desks with oil.

A teacher quoted in the article, not one of the anointers, said, upon returning to school on Monday, "We thought it was vandalism. It was greasy. It was oily."


Apparently, this teacher was offended by the residue of the Christians' orgasmic prayers, and the ACLU said that the staff members had "crossed the line" and that they "did leave tangible evidence of their religious activity, and that was troubling to people."

Hopefully, that's the worst "tangible evidence" of "activity" those students ever find on their desks. (I couldn't resist!)

I have to say this is pretty laughable. I don't think I would be offended that the oil was some Christian thing as much as I'd be weirded out to come and find something oily on my desk. In fact, in the post-911 world, I'm surprised a HazMat team wasn't called in! Nonetheless, I don't think I see this as a violation of religious freedom as much as a disruption of class that should have been avoided, either by praying without the oil or by wiping the oil off afterwards. But I don't see people praying for the kids in the classrooms after hours as any kind of problem, minus the oily residue.

However, I think this Christian WorldNutDaily reader is being pretty disingenuous:

"Give me a break…does it really matter which 'God' was prayed to? Fact is,
the state has put sooo much emphasis on FCAT, the teachers are looking to prayer
to help their students. I am Christian, but would NEVER be offended if a Rabbi
prayed for me," said dumbfounded.
Perhaps some Christians, the one who don't think Jews are Satan's helpers, the ones who don't agree with Falwell that the Anti-Christ is alive today and is a Jew, wouldn't be offended by a rabbi praying and spreading oil around the school. But I'd bet that a lot of Christians, especially the sort that read the WorldNutDaily, would freak the fuck out if Muslims did the same thing, or if Wiccans did chants in the classrooms and left pentagrams on the students' desks, or if witches went around casting spells on the students' desks and left ashes on them.

Christians accuse non-theists of being the sensitive ones, but that's only because these sorts of religious behavior generally come from their own and so it doesn't disturb them. I'm not particularly disturbed -- more amused, really -- by this story, and I would if another religion did the equivalent. But I doubt Christians would be as sanguine about it.


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