Despite complaints from the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Gov. Bill Lee says he will sign a financial transparency bill into law. (Photo: John Partipilo)
Watching the news unfold about Hillsdale College creating Tennessee schools that my tax dollars will pay for is like watching a horror film where you know bad things are going to happen.
I am a product of Tennessee public schools in Oneida, Tennessee, married a graduate of a public school, and am the stepmother of three children who all graduated from public schools in Metro Nashville.
I also believe in God but I was raised in a part of the state where people are pretty stubborn about their religion and traditions.
I grew up in Oneida where folks felt strongly about their community’s ability to govern itself. They were so stubborn that they created their own school system so that they would not be governed by the Scott County School system. The county schools of Scott County banded together to form Scott High, but Oneida would have none of it. So a small county has two high schools today where most other rural counties only have one.
My parents, who raised me in the Church of Christ, also sent me to every Vacation Bible School available by any church. I learned at a young age that the Catholics have the most beautiful sanctuaries, the Baptists the best music, the Methodists the best classes, and the Presbyterians turned out good citizens.
The Oneida School Board had jurisdiction over the administration and the hiring and firing of staff. I was very fortunate to have fabulous teachers who insisted we be taught the truth. For example, there was nothing romantic about the Civil War, it was about slavery. Science and math were not threats to religion, and we could learn from history. The United States were formed to get away from England and religious freedom meant worshiping the way you wanted to. The “Founding Fathers,” were not examples of how to worship as anyone studying “The Jefferson Bible” well knows.
My parents expected us to respect our teachers, but I can remember my father being very upset when he thought I was being taught the Bible by someone who was a member of another denomination. My parents were active in the Oneida Church of Christ which was very small compared to all of the Baptist Churches in the county.
It was fine to visit other denominations and to learn from them in their worship services and Vacation Bible Schools. When we visited other homes we respected their religious beliefs, even if they interpreted the Bible differently.
But, if we were told in a public school class what to believe and why, my parents were not happy. They believed that public schools should teach facts and the tools necessary to succeed in life, not religion. We joined organizations with students of all socioeconomic levels. When it came to interpreting the Bible, you did that at home and the church where we were members. And my parents did not always agree with their church. East Tennesseans have a history of being stubborn and going their own way: Remember, East Tennesseans were not in favor of the Confederacy, for instance.
So, how are the public schools going to respond when a private religious college starts interpreting scripture in our schools? Will they emphasize grace or is it all about works, a subject my husband and I debate weekly? Will there only be one way that is the right way? Have you noticed that believers and nonbelievers have different opinions about the Bible? Will Jesus be portrayed as a Jew from the Middle East? What about the role of women in history and in religion? What about believers who are not Christians? What about truth and facts?
Serving as a member of a school board is probably the hardest and most thankless job of any public elected official. Will local elected officials have to hand over all of the decisions to Hillsdale? Will following the religious doctrine taught by Hillsdale be a requirement to be a principal, teacher or custodian?
Good luck to Hillsdale if they think they can govern what people believe or do not believe about God. There is a reason people are called “Protestants,” they protested about being told what to believe.
Time to get out the popcorn and watch the show.
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