Important to Keep Christian Nationalists Away From School Boards

Public school classroom

Most of us would agree that context matters. Even the context in which someone delivers a bible quote matters. The same quote delivered in one context could have a different intent and impact than in another.

Consider Matthew 18:6 for a moment:

But whoever causes one of these little ones — who believe in me — to stumble and sin by leading him away from my teaching, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

What does this mean? We need some context, so let's make some up.

Christian Nationalism Has Infiltrated the School Board

You are a parent, and you care about your child's education so much that you are attending a school board meeting. Others may complain, but you are showing up. Your kid is fortunate to have such an involved parent.

A school board member has been quoting from a bible during every board meeting. This board member has identified herself as a Christian nationalist. She has attracted that crowd to board meetings, and they've been disruptive at times. You are there, in part, because you don't think this nonsense should go unchallenged.

This part shouldn't be necessary, but I know it is. Suppose that you and your family are not Christian. You might belong to a different religious tradition or none at all. Either way, you aren't interested in public schools pushing anybody's brand of Christianity. You'd like them to remain secular, and you are not alone.

The context around which this board member delivers her bible quote is simple. Another parent expressed disagreement with something she wants to do. The quote is part of her response.

Encouraging Violence Against Non-Christians

So what does it mean? How would you take it? It sounds a bit like a threat, doesn't it? What should happen to people who might lead others away from Christ? They should be killed. Drown them all!

To be clear, I embellished the context provided above based on what the Freedom From Religion Foundation described. I wasn't there, and I'm not claiming this is how it went down. It doesn't seem farfetched to think that it might have happened this way.

If it happened anything like this, I'd say it is fair to interpret this quote in this context as a threat. If I put myself at that meeting and in the shoes of someone who had expressed disagreement, I'd take it as a threat. And what if there were several obnoxious Christian nationalists in the room at the time? It would seem like a more serious threat.

It Matters Who Controls the School Boards

The Christian right has long recognized the advantages of controlling school boards. They've been successful at slipping in. Too few people have been paying attention. We're more focused on national or state-wide politics.

Now we are hearing more about their agenda. They are banning books and restricting reality-based sex education. Don't say gay, you groomer! We are even hearing about restrictions on teaching history in public schools.

How will they maintain the control they have won when their policies are so unpopular? That's where the Christian nationalism comes in. "It says right here in my holy book what we should do with people like you."

But what is to prevent others from laughing at that sort of thing? Why not dismiss it as having little to do with Christianity or human decency? That's where the fascism comes in. Their thugs are going to the meetings and making their presence known. It is easier to ignore opposition when one hears so little of it.

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