Wrestling With God In Highschool Hallway

February 23rd, 2010

I was at a neighboring highschool a few weeks ago for one of my son’s basketball games when I saw this display in the hallway.

Evidently the sport of wrestling is biblically sound.

You might recall the story of Jacob wrestling with some sort of supernatural being until his thigh is injured and then blah, blah blah, hooey, blah, hooey, blah, blessing, blessing, blah, hooey, blah, blah.

Sorry if I seem a little uh… disrespectful of the bible these days.

But really!

Why is this in a public highschool?  Is this supposed to make wrestling more holy or something?  Is it supposed to make wrestlers feel less awkward in those funny singlets?  Is this supposed to help the the wrestlers find Jesus?  Does this highschool really want the students to believe that a supernatural being came down from heaven and wrestled all night long with a man, hurt his thigh, and then the man demanded a blessing?  What exactly is the value in this bit of weirdness?  How does teaching kids utter nonsense help them to use their brains and learn stuff like… maybe science… or math!


And is this angel really wrestling with Jacob?

Or is she (he?) trying to teach him how to dance?

Now put your other hand on my shoulder Jacob.  No my other shoulder.  Put it on my shoulder!  Are you a complete moron Jacob?  Do you know what a shoulder is Jacob?  Maybe less time raping your wives’ slaves and more time studying anatomy?  You are clearly related to that meat-head sociopath Abraham aren’t you Jacob?  Dance is proof of civilization Jacob.  It separates us from the apes.  Have you ever watched any ice dancing Jacob?  Dancing is clear evidence of evolution. You are capable of incredible poetry Jacob.  If only you people would forget about me and all this god stuff and start using your beautifully evolved brains!  Now step, one, two!  Step, one, two!  Good!  Maybe there is hope for you yet Jacob!


  • Jadehawk:

    I wonder: is this a display made by school employees, or by students?

  • Lori:

    Who cares??? This picture is just like this blog and its contents. If you don’t like it, if you find it offensive, don’t read it!!! :) :) :) I mean, I know all of you open-minded and loving people out there wouldn’t want to be accused of censorship…

  • Lori:

    Oh. Wait. Can you hear it too? It is the sound of fingers tapping on keyboards taking me to task for my above comment…

  • Perhaps forwarding the picture to the local AU chapter (link) would help. They may only need to send a nice letter explaining why it’s inappropriate.

  • Kristy K:

    To “Cat’s Staff” – Good Grief.

  • “Just don’t read it!”

    Normally I fully support that stance. However, the bulletin board in the public school does not have the little x in the corner like a website, or a power button like a tv or radio.

    And I would be willing to bet that if it was a flyer promoting the Wiccan religion, pornography, or even the local Planned Parenthood the same people who are all, “Who cares?” and “Don’t read it then.” would suddenly be wailing and gnashing their teeth at the innapropriateness of the flyer.

    Some things should not be displayed in public gov’t-run places.

  • Christina:

    It’s like buying a new car and then seeing the same model everywhere. These small intrusions of religion into the public sphere have always been there, now you’ll just take more note of them.

    For the commenters who think that it’s not a big deal, please consider how you would feel it the poster was about a passage and picture from the Koran or book other than the Bible.

  • km:

    Wow, my kids’ public school has Jewish, Muslim, Buddhists, Christian denominations, Mormon etc. Equal representation would take up every notice board in the school. It’s already like Nascar around December trying to get everyone in. Freedom from religion in the school helps a lot.
    Lori, you are very mellow and kind. We appreciate your measured responses.

  • Jadehawk:

    yeah, there’s a reason I asked if this was made by students or staff. staff, being employed by the government, mustn’t promote a religion. it’s unconstitutional. students OTOH have 1st Amendment rights to express their own religious beliefs.

  • lamitchell:

    I thought this post was hilarious – thanks! On the note of “These small intrusions of religion into the public sphere have always been there, now you’ll just take more note of them.” I think this is so true. The more I look, the more instances of I see of a dwindling separation between church and state. My kids often come home with fliers from local churches sandwiched in with their (public school) homework. Last year one of the school secretaries offered bibles to the kids in my son’s class. The year before that a first grade teachers was leading the kids in prayer before snack time. (This was stopped due to parental complaints.) None of this has really offended me, but I have found it presumptuous — I know I would be less bothered if material from other religions appeared with the same frequency.

  • AngAk:

    I’m a little puzzled as to why this is posted in the public High School as well. But, if it’s anything like my High School was many moons ago, probably just a handful of students will actually stop to read this. Most will just pass by. Rechelle—you may need to re-think homeschooling! :)

  • To me it is just a display put together by students, one who probably found the offending article about wrestling to be interesting.
    My children sit in the public school system and listen to crap that goes against our families beliefs and morals every day. When my son’s health class was told that it is OK to go and have an abortion and not tell your parents, you bet I went into the school and raised a stink. Just yesterday my daughter came home and told me that another student came up to her and ranted and raved at her and told her that she was going to hell because she was the spawn of the devil.
    There will forever be things that go against our beliefs, whether it be Christian, atheist and everything else in between.
    I have observed over the years that if someone is an “ex” something, they seem to go after whatever it is that they no longer hold of value with a vengence (sorry, can’t remember how to spell it). Ex Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, or just ex Christians in general. Ex spouses also fall into my observations!! :)
    I have been in the US for 24 years now, I am not a citizen, I do not say the Pledge of Allegiance, but I stand out of respect when the Pledge is being repeated, or if the National Anthem is being played. I have seen others do the same thing when a prayer is being offered or grace on the food. They may not believe in it, but they respect another’s decision to. Not sure if that made sense
    Anyway, have been reading Rechelle’s posts and the comments with interest.

  • You’ll love this–marriedtothesea.com

  • Lori:

    Does it not strike you as a little ridiculous this is offensive? In a time where schools are dealing with drugs, teen sex, sexually transmitted diseases this is offensive? In a time where girls bare their bellies and their thongs with equal abandon? And really, the school was hardly leading a charge of Christianity. It was a picture with a small caption at the bottom telling the story. And seriously, I said the pledge, prayed over my chocolate milk, was in the room when prayers were held at my public school functions and I am mostly normal. Mostly. All I am getting at is maybe take this into perspective. Although after reading it, I have a strange urge to don a singlet (seriously, who came up with that outfit and that name??) and go wrestle an atheist to the ground.*
    *Statement was meant for humor purposes only and no atheists were harmed in the writing of this post…

  • When I said that I wasn’t sure if that made any sense, I meant my explanation, not the fact that people show respect!

  • Martha in Kansas:

    I too thought they were dancing! Awkwardly.

    The drawing reminds me of the artist I met a few years ago who was modeling christmas nativity scenes in clay. She didn’t know what animals looked like back in biblical times, so she based her animals on the pictures in her bible. When I regained speech and asked her what she was thinking, she admitted that perhaps the pictures were not quite THAT old, but they were old-timey and that seemed close to her. She was so sweetly innocent about this logic, I just couldn’t get to cranked up about it. Yeah, I got my mom an old-timey nativity. She loved it. And then she began telling how the animals were modeled after the biblical animals. Oh, how much amusement I got from this!

  • Lori – Imagine for a minute that a group of students put up a display in the hallway of your child’s school that said THERE IS NO GOD and then went on to explain why there was no god in an extremely hip and intelligent manner using incredible humor and gorgeous celebrities. Would christians not be perhaps a little miffed? Fortunately, this poster is extremely dorky. I can’t imagine a single teenager being moved to follow anything by this poster. Whoever put it together (students, teacher, I don’t know…) does not have any type of future in marketing whatsoever. Hopefully they will go into the ministry and be just as ineffective there as well.

  • Martha in Kansas:

    I’m taken with Sally-ann’s suggestion that this is a student-made display. It’s not exactly an inspired layout and it looks like they didn’t have much to work with. I imagine one of them finding this and thinking they’d hit the jackpot. Large! Picture! And it’s about wrestling. Space filled and we’re done!

  • Yeah – you are probably right Martha and Sally-ann. Though I have a spastic twisting in my intestine that also make me wonder if this poster has ‘religious wrestling coach’ written all over it.

  • Lori:

    Rechelle, there is already a place like that. It is called Hollywood. And that is pretty present in any school.

    And just for the record, if christians are so stupid, dorky and naive why the heck do people get so worked up by them and their beliefs?? Wouldn’t it be better to just ignore them? This website reminds me of the sex tape of Paris Hilton. Everybody hated her for it but man did she get more popular. “Everybody” hates christianity but boy, this blog is sure bringing it to the forefront. Pretty good marketing really. People may just look into the Bible to see for themselves how irrelevant it is and just find Jesus Himself. Not a bunch of stupid, religious rules but Jesus.

  • Jadehawk:

    When my son’s health class was told that it is OK to go and have an abortion and not tell your parents, you bet I went into the school and raised a stink.

    um… why? assuming that this is really what happened, and assuming that it is indeed legal to do so in your state, what gives you the right to deprive other students of this information just because you don’t like it? There is no legal base for such a complaint, and school doesn’t exist to cater to personal moral sensibilities. The only time such complaints are warranted is if the school actually breaks the law (unconstitutional religious displays and/or events sponsored by the school; violation of privacy rights of students; violations of 1st Amendment rights of students, etc.)

  • Jadehawk:

    Rechelle, there is already a place like that. It is called Hollywood. And that is pretty present in any school.

    ROTFL oh yeah, hollywood, the great atheist think tank.

    seriously, stop confusing secular and atheist. they do not mean the same thing. students get in trouble for atheism in school a lot. for example, very recently a student wasn’t allowed to wear his “God is Dead” t-shirt for a yearbook photo. in the adult world, billboards with ads for atheist/freethinker organizations get defaced, protested, and even downright refused ad-space for spurious reasons all the time. this is not the same as the secular education which merely doesn’t mention god.

  • Jadehawk:

    erm. secular education/entertainment/pretty much everything not specifically religious, which merely doesn’t mention god.

    anyway, my point being that just because something doesn’t talk about deities, doesn’t make it atheist; it makes it secular. This is a very important difference, as public institutions are defined by the US constitution as secular, but they cannot be atheist the same way they cannot be christian, or pagan, or muslim.

  • If atheist don’t believe in God, why would they say “God is Dead?” Apparently he never was alive.

  • Maria:

    To me (and to the creator of the image, of course), it looks like the Angel is playing the classic game of “Stop hitting yourself!”


  • Juenbug – If christians believe in god how is it that he (Jesus) died? How can an immortal being die? Was he faking it?

  • Maria:

    Junebug, have you read Nietzsche? Because atheists don’t believe “God is Dead” — Nietzsche did, and that was quite a long time ago. Also, “God is Dead” does not mean what you think it means; he meant not that God was a literal being, having been “born” only to “die”, but God was a concept — a symbol of the time in which he wrote, when Nietzsche and other philosophers like Heidegger believed there would be an end to metaphysics, and a resulting lack of a moral compass and values. In short, God no longer exists in our minds (100+ years ago, mind), which would lead to crisis of faith, moral chaos, and ultimately nihilism. Funny how those who believe there is a god think this is a natural progression (no faith = no moral compass), when Nietzsche, an atheist, was the one to suggest it…

  • Lori – I didn’t say christians were dorky. I said the poster was dorky. I am dorky. My husband is extremely dorky. I have four sons and if I may say so – they are also very dorky. I like dorks. They are way more fun than the non-dorky types of this old world. The dorkier the better! But that poster isn’t going to make anyone turn to Jesus because yes… dorky.

  • You seem a little more than “disrespectful”, you seem bitter. How come? I think all people of all beliefs face things that they disagree with….and people who avidly disagree with them. For instance…I’m a non-Mormon living in Utah. Even though I’m friends with many of them; I know that their teachings tell them that I’ll go to Hell….because I don’t believe as they do. Yet, I’m not bitter. I just smile, and agree and do as I please. I hope that however you live your life, that you don’t become bitter…that would be such a shame.

  • Ted Powell:

    Lori wrote: And just for the record, if christians are so stupid, dorky and naive why the heck do people get so worked up by them and their beliefs??Some of those people have the perception (accurately or otherwise) that civil liberties are threatened: Republicans v secular America

    With blatant disregard for the first amendment, Republicans’ intolerance of US secularism means things are turning ugly

    If you’re part of secular America – that is, if you’re an atheist, an agnostic, a religious liberal or even a mainstream believer who thinks religion should be kept out of politics and vice-versa – then you should be very afraid of what the Republican party has in store for you in 2012.

    No news there, you might say. The Republicans, as we all know, have been in thrall to the Christian right since the Reagan era. But there’s something new, something more intolerant, something truly ugly in the works. And if you don’t believe me, let’s start with Tim Pawlenty, unassuming governor of Minnesota in his day job, fire-breathing Christian warrior and aspiring presidential candidate in his spare time….Not all Christians—and more to the point, not all those who talk the Christian talk—are “stupid, dorky and naive.” Try looking up dominionism, or better yet, hard dominionism

  • Ted Powell:

    Oops. The “No news there” paragraph above was meant to be part of the quote.

  • Megan:

    Me thinks Lori needs to take her own advice. She obviously doesn’t like what she reads here. For once it would nice to hear from a Christian who has the ability to not be offended and feel oh so persecuted when someone questions their beliefs. At a public school religious displays are verboten. Period. This is not persecuting Christians, or hating on Christians or denying Christians their god given rights. Instead it is saying there is a time and place for YOUR religion (in YOUR home, in YOUR church, etc.).

  • Joel Wheeler:

    For the record, and perhaps for the edification of some:

    The image of Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (1855) is by Gustav Doré, a prolific 19th century illustrator and engraver. He was particularly enamored with Christianity and its attendant fables, and created many beautiful works of art based on said, including an entire set of illustrations for the Bible and Dante’s Divine Comedy. He also illustrated Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Don Quixote, Milton, Tennyson, etc. He was a true master of the form.

    For what it’s worth, when we discussed his illustrations for the Divine Comedy in one of my art history classes, the consensus — which has stuck with me for many years — was that the most interesting/exciting/challenging work was inspired by the Inferno, while the Purgatorio and the Paradiso yielded increasingly boring and bland images. Let’s face it: the nine circles of hell are simply a lot more compelling, by virtue of being more scary, than are page after page of clouds bearing angels spraying light at each other and proclaiming His Glory.

    There’s a terrific gallery on his Wiki page.

  • Jadehawk said: “students OTOH have 1st Amendment rights to express their own religious beliefs.”
    While that is true, and I do agree with you, one could make the argument that by posting said beliefs on a school-owned bulletin board and doing so without explicitly stating that they were posted by students and not by a member of a staff, the school – and thus the government – are passively endorsing said belief system. It would be a different matter if it were one student walking around handing out flyers, because then it would be clear that 1)it was a student’s statement and not a staff member’s and 2) the school is presumably not formally endorsing it (though in a perfect world I think this hypothetical flyer-distribution would be prohibited in schools, as well).


    Lori said: “Does it not strike you as a little ridiculous this is offensive? In a time where schools are dealing with drugs, teen sex, sexually transmitted diseases this is offensive? In a time where girls bare their bellies and their thongs with equal abandon?”
    No, it actually strikes me as MORE alarming, in a way. Because schools actively work together with parents to prevent everything that you mentioned, whereas the opposite is true for the promotion of religion – it is pedaled around to kids. At best, it discourages critical thinking and skepticism (and (presumably) as a Christian, wouldn’t you want others to have reached their beliefs via a reasoned thought process). At worst, it’s brainwashing. You can always put on less-revealing clothing. It’s a lot harder (as Rechelle has so eloquently shown us these past few weeks) to shed a former aspect of your personality.

  • I should add to my previous comment “it is pedaled around to kids *by respected members of the community and by their role models – parents, other relatives, etc.*”. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Lori:

    Megan, trust me. You would know if I were offended. I just like a good debate. I have a friend that is (by HER description) a “commie pinko” and I believe she is an atheist. Or maybe an agnostic. Dunno. And she is one of my fave people to discuss life and politics with. I could throw zingers at her all day long and she would throw them right back and crack me up. She even made me my very own tin hat out of aluminum foil for Halloween (so I could better signals from the mother ship and learn all kinds of new right wing conspiracy theories). And I must say, she did a very nice job. :) I get a kick out of all this. I know I am not going to change anyone’s mind. I read the dominionism link that Ted wrote. Very interesting. I had never heard of it. But why can’t Christians be involved in politics? Do any of you vote according to your belief system? And Jadehawk. I guess I did confuse secularism and atheism. Point taken. So it is fair if my kid can’t wear a Jesus junk tee if your kid can’t wear a God is dead tee. See, we have some common ground. Is that ok? to have common ground with a, a, dare I say it? A Christian!!! :) I think you guys are a fun bunch to spar with.:) Seriously, aren’t you guys having fun with this??

  • Twin-Skies:

    “Or is she (he?) trying to teach him how to dance?”

    Hey, I don’t see a problem with that. Martial Artists such as Bruce Lee and Mas Oyama were reputedly good dancers when they weren’t kicking ass, and they even noted that this hobby was an excellent way to build agility.

    And using your intuition to feel your partner’s weight shift in your arms happens to be a basic skill in both pair dancing, and in grappling :)

  • Marilyn:

    I am a Christian. I am not offended by these discussions. I don’t feel persecuted. I continue to read because I am concerned about anyone who doesn’t believe in God – just like many of you are concerned about me because I do. I don’t think the poster should have been displayed in a public school. It is because of separation of church and state that the United States has enjoyed relative religious peace for over 200 years. Rechelle, I apologize for the “missionaries” that came to your door. They don’t represent all Christians.

  • i think that is a bit odd. but i am wondering why you are so angry? maybe it is stressful for you changing from one belief to another or maybe folks are giving you a hard time. if you truly believe what you say then just go for it. don’t waste so much time being pissed off, life is too short. enjoy it! show people who you are.

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    If my husband were in high school on the wrestling team, and came across that poster at his little rural Methodist church, he would have thought it was funny and put it in the display. Most teenage boys are that way – nothing too serious. If it were the coach – I guess I’d be interested in his intentions.

    When I was in H.S. 20 years ago (very liberal area, but with HIGH concentrations of Christians, Mormon and Jehovah’s Witnesses,) our senior year English teacher gave us a reading list, a kind of “pick one from each category” thing. Categories included Russian literature, English literature, American, Modern.,etc. But the most interesting one was “Religious” – the Bible, Koran, etc. You had to pick one and read it as historical literature, with the encouragement to NOT pick what you were familiar with. Very interesting and always stuck with me. Looking at the writings objectively, whether you believed them or not. Then we high school seniors discussed our impressions of the books. Not pushing or debating whose book or religious was “right, ” but reading them word for word the best we could, and later as a class discussing the time periods in which they were written, the history of the beliefs leading up to the books, etc.. If only more adults would do that now – it sure is enlightening.

  • Jadehawk:

    “So it is fair if my kid can’t wear a Jesus junk tee if your kid can’t wear a God is dead tee. See, we have some common ground.”

    well, to be honest I’d think it would be against their 1st Amendment rights to ban them from wearing them. there a very few exceptions to that, which relate to school policies against harassment and “providing a supportive and open learning environment”: if the school has very strict dress-code, for example (but then, I’d never send a kid of mine to a school like that), or if the t-shirts were denigrating others (“god hates f*gs” would be absolutely out of the question; so would be nazi shirts etc.)

    on the other hand, teachers and other staff, as government employees and civil servants, shouldn’t really be making displays of their beliefs. they need to remain completely neutral while on the job.

  • Kristin:

    Darn..at first I thought it said wrestling WITH the Bible, which might be a good thing in high school as students are reading other myths & working on their critical thinking skills. BTW, in case no one else has mentioned it, I’m pretty sure that the thigh is generally thought to be a euphemism for some other, more sensitive, part of Jacob’s anatomy. I always thought it was kind of nasty & weird for God or God’s angel or whatever it was to injure him THERE. And high school wrestling coaches might not want to be encouraging such behavior.

  • Ted Powell:

    Kristin wrote: I’m pretty sure that the thigh is generally thought to be a euphemism for some other, more sensitive, part of Jacob’s anatomy.From Genesis 24: [Abraham] said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will …” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.In other words, the servant testified.

  • km:

    speaking of euphemisms I read lately that Adam’s rib was a euphemism for an erection. The Bible is far more raucous than I imagined

  • Dan:

    This picture was featured on Married to the Sea a few weeks ago:


  • Cheyenne:

    I think it would be a cool display if they had added artwork and stories from other ancient mythological stories and had gone in the direction of wrestling in ancient mythology, or something like that. But, singling out one religious story makes it look like they’re promoting Christianity, even if they were really just thinking that it was cool that they found an article with a huge photo to put up on the bulletin board. Sometimes I think Christians don’t even notice that things like that may be offensive or wrong, because it’s in the majority and seems like no big deal.

  • km:

    Cheyenne, you might be right. Especially if it’s a homogenous area. lamitchell’s comment about it being presumptuous struck a chord with me.

  • Mom:

    I hope this does not get deleted.

    I guess today I am now finding out that atheist are not American’s either.

    I have yet to see any happiness with being an atheist. Just the hate for Christians. I don’t hate atheist they are part of God children also.
    I am so glad that our children, schools, and nation still believe that we are a nation under God.

    Our Pledge Of Allegiance for our Nation is still true today.

    “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

    I am so proud that our money says in God we trust.

    Hate and anger is still in the writing that uses to be so awesome to read. Everyone is wrong that believes in God.

    Now the next big hit hate is headed to blast the Public School for a great bulletin board presentation which might not be a very good idea since there is a school board person in the household. But respect may not fit into the new life.

    The happiness in your life is no longer there, no direction, no hope, just lots of anger. Never saying sorry for hurtful actions (the little boy with the Baptist Minister) Just flaunt it in public what was done. PW, Family, Friends)

    What I read from other readers that are atheist on this blog they also seem to be unhappy and the only spark is to put Christians down, even public school can’t escape their angry. My heart goes out to each of the readers searching for a direction. My heart goes out to Rechelle children that attend public school that they will not be persecuted like the Baptist Ministers little boy was and in the name of using the brain.

    But just know that your mom is still here to love and pray for you.

    Love and prayers


  • Spinny:

    @Lori–I mean, I know all of you open-minded and loving people out there wouldn’t want to be accused of censorship…

    The public school is displaying overtly religious propaganda. ANY display like that of any religion in a public school is not acceptable.

    I fully and wholeheartedly support the right of a spectator who wants to hold a sign that has this message during a wrestling match or even any student who wants to wear this as a T-shirt.

    But the school should not be sanctioning religious displays in this manner.

  • Last year when my son was in 3rd grade, his class was learning about the election process. His teacher spoke often about how much she liked McCain/Palin, and even had pictures of them in the classroom. But no pictures, at least not at first of Obama/Biden or Ron Paul or anyone else. My son, on his own, asked her why there were no pictures of any of the other candidates, and since she couldn’t really say anything, she finally brought some in.

    My point, and yes I have one, is that this picture reminds me of that situation. If you’re going to have some weird looking poster to discuss wrestling in the bible, then let’s also have some creepy artwork depiciting wrestling in Greece or in Egyptian mythology or Roman mythology. Represent everything, not just one concept because then it looks like you’re trying to indoctrinate. That may not have been the intent of the person that set up this display, but I can see how it can be interpreted that way.

    Much in the same way I want my son to make his own choices when it comes to say, politics, I also want him to make his own choices when it comes to spirituality. I myself don’t believe in the Christian idea of god and Jesus, but if my son wants to believe that, fine. But whatever he chooses to believe, I want him to go in to it with an open mind, free of influence. Just as I don’t force him to believe as I do, I don’t want others attempting to do the same, even if it is just in the form of a weird poster.

  • I’m almost 72% sure that is probably in Marysville. maybe.

    Also, Rechelle: The picture they used up there reminds me of the website http://www.marriedtothesea.com. You’ll get a kick out of it for sure.

    Here’s an example:

  • Ted Powell:

    Mom wrote: I guess today I am now finding out that atheist are not American’s[sic] either.I’m Canadian, and I’m curious to know why you apparently view this as a negative thing.M: I have yet to see any happiness with being an atheist.I’m sorry to hear that you are not seeing happiness. I am experiencing happiness, even though you say you are not able to see it.M: Just the hate for Christians.I am sad for you that you see criticism as hate.M: Our Pledge Of Allegiance for our Nation is still true today.But it has changed (four times, so far) over the years. The most recent change (while I was a teenager) was the addition of the words “under God” some sixty-two years after the Pledge’s composition.M: But just know that your mom is still here to love and pray for you.With counter-factual words like: “The happiness in your life is no longer there, no direction, no hope, just lots of anger”? I can’t help thinking that’s a funny sort of praying.

  • Lynn in WI:

    I’m not seeing the big deal here.

    If we take the objections to this display to their logical conclusions the art teacher may not use Michelangelo or DaVinci or countless other artists and their works in his classroom.

    The music teacher may never teach a Bach cantata because of its text.

    The fact is, the Bible, whether you think it’s bunk or truth, is culturally significant (as is this particular artist) and should be part of every literate person’s experience. (As should Nietzsche, Darwin, etc.)

    Assuming proselytizing was the motive with this display is just that: an assumption. You’re free to criticize it and make the assumption that something sinister is going on here but wouldn’t it make more sense to see it for what it appears to be–a legitimate piece of artwork tying into the theme of wrestling?

    I might have chosen an image from a Greek vase, but that’s just me.

  • just kidding. It clearly says Manhattan High School.

  • J.D.:

    Who gives a rat’s ass about the wrestling picture… The real issue here is the use of the word “Indians” on the bulletin board. Best not to get started on that one…

  • Jules,
    Don’t know what the Mormons in Utah have been telling you, but down here in Florida we don’t believe that you will go to hell for not believing what we do. To quote some Mormon doctrine, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
    Sorry to get off track everyone, but for some reason, couldn’t let that pass!

  • km:

    Mom, I’m as happy as a clam and if you look through my comments you won’t see Christian bashing. I enjoy challenging thought processes which coincidentally Jesus did too. Maybe Rechelle is throwing out the Pharisees.
    I am a US citizen and I’m a happy one. I find it interesting that you mentioned the pledge of allegiance, I’ve always thought that was a bit blurry with the whole “thou shalt not have strange gods before me” concept. I also wonder if it is parrotted without much comprehension. Also Under God was added to that pretty recently.
    Rechelle may well be in the anger stage of grief. or maybe she just has blinkers off and is noticing with a fresh pair of eyes. It is her journey. I appreciate that it rocks everything you believe in and I know that you care deeply otherwise you wouldn’t be reading. There is room in a loving family for a lot of beliefs.

  • CHrissy:

    I really wonder why it is such a BIG DEAL to you. Dont like it dont read it, just I like me. I rarely read your blog because of things like this.

  • courtney:


  • Jadehawk:

    Our Pledge Of Allegiance for our Nation is still true today.

    you do realize that “under god” isn’t in the original, and that it was only added because of Anti-Communism?

    If we take the objections to this display to their logical conclusions the art teacher may not use Michelangelo or DaVinci or countless other artists and their works in his classroom.

    you can’t tell the difference between using a religious text and using a piece of art inspired by a religious text? really?

    Also, are you aware of what the Lemon Test is?

  • Cheyenne:

    @Lynn in WI,

    I totally agree that the Bible should be part of every literate person’s experience. Our culture has been, and still is, greatly influenced by the Bible and Christianity, and if a person is ignorant about the Bible, then they will not be able to fully understand or appreciate many things.

    I think the Bible as a text is great and thought-provoking material that is appropriate to teach within certain contexts. I think it’s also important to teach students about other great mythological works as well. I remember in school we were taught Greek and Roman myths, but nothing about any current religions. I can’t remember if any of my high school teachers even taught about anything remotely involving Christianity, either. It wasn’t until college art and literature courses that I was taught about religiously-inspired artwork and literature. However, my son is in kindergarten this year and at his school before the holidays they taught the kids about “Christmas Around the World.” One of the things they were taught was that the red in the candy cane represents Jesus’ blood. There were no lessons about any holidays other than Christmas. I thought that crossed the line.

    It is something to think about though, because kids do need to be aware of how our culture has been influenced by the Bible. No other modern religion has had anywhere near the same impact, yet if we teach about the one religion that has had the most influence on us, doesn’t that sort of legitimize that religion by only exposing students to it, and not to others? On the other hand, is it even feasible to think about suggesting something like a comparative religions course, or whatever in public education?

  • Cheyenne:


    Great comment to Mom. I 100% agree!

  • Rae Henderson:

    I haven’t seen your blog in a while. I used enjoy reading about your life…you were funny and seemed to be happy. Now, after reading some of your latest work, I find your blog to be….well, no longer a fun read. You seem to have become a bitter woman. Maybe that’s because you lost God in your life.
    I will continue to check in on your sister and read her blog. I hope she doesn’t go off the deep end also.
    Without God….well, I pitty you.

  • jalf:

    Hi Mom! (I’m not sure whose mom, but let’s not get hung up on details)

    “I guess today I am now finding out that atheist are not American’s either.”
    Well, I’m not an American, but I am an atheist… I suppose that’s not what you meant though. :)

    “I have yet to see any happiness with being an atheist. Just the hate for Christians.”
    So far, I’m getting the impression that every atheist posting here is happy. I’m happy, I know that. (Or, well, I’ll be a lot happier a week from now, but that’s because of humdrum deadlines and nothing to do with God or life as a whole).
    Where do you see unhappiness?

    “I am so glad that our children, schools, and nation still believe that we are a nation under God.”
    It isn’t. Your founding fathers weren’t exactly keen on Christianity.

    The “under God” bit of your pledge of allegiance wasn’t added until a few decades ago. Until the middle of the 20th century, the USA was **not** in any meaningful way “a nation under God”.

    Your constitution includes this little snippet: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”

    In 1796, George Washington and John Adams signed a treaty beginning with the words “as the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion”
    The constitution *never* mentions Jesus, God, the Bible or Christianity.

    If anything, the USA was founded as a free-thinking and secular nation. Not a nation “under God”.

    Here are a few quotes from some people you may have heard of:

    John Adams: “God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world”, and “Have you considered that system of holy lies and pious frauds that has raged and triumphed for 1,500 years?”
    Jefferson: “I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.”
    Franklin: “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”

    Just a few examples. The USA was certainly not founded as “one nation under God”.

    “Never saying sorry for hurtful actions (the little boy with the Baptist Minister)”
    How was that hurtful? “Hurtful” is saying things like “You’re going to hell”, which is what Rechelle was told, and for which I don’t believe she received an apology. Saying “Use your brain” isn’t hurtful.

    From reading comments on this blog, it is pretty hard to judge a person’s happiness. There is a distinct lack of people shouting “hurrah” or celebrating. But that’s because these comments are part of a discussion on religion, and nothing else. I might not smile or laugh when discussing a serious subject with others, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy.

    Judging solely from your post, you don’t seem very happy either. I won’t say that it’s because you’re unhappy though. Most likely it’s just because your comment dealt with a serious subject. And the same is true for me, and I believe, for every other atheist commenting here.

    “But just know that your mom is still here to love and pray for you.”
    You know, I was never bothered by statements like this until someone pointed out to me how deeply condescending and arrogant it is, and made me think about what they actually mean. Are you really in a position to pray for me, to fix my life for me?

    Is my life so messed up that only a direct appeal to God can save me? What makes you think that? Why would someone who doesn’t believe in God want to be prayed for? What if I’m happy and satisfied with my life? Why would I want God or anyone else to change it?

    If you want to save me, feel free to convince me that God exists. Or if you really want to, pray all you want to God to interfere in my life. But don’t *tell me* that you’ll pray for me. What purpose does it serve? Is it just to prove that you’re so much more compassionate and caring than an atheist could ever be?

    Most likely it just never occurred to you that a non-Christian could simply not *want* to be prayed for. But consider other religions. Some religions have had some pretty unpleasant ways to ask for favors from their Gods (human sacrifice comes to mind as a good example). Would you want followers of such a religion to tell you that they will ask their God to help you, knowing what that implies? I would want no part of it. And by the same token, pray if you want to, but keep me out of it.

    Asking your God to “save” nonbelievers isn’t necessarily something nonbelievers would want.

    And telling us to our face that “I won’t bother to ask you, I’ll just appeal directly to God to fix your life for you” is just awfully condescending.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m angry or unhappy. I just thought it was a point worth making. :)

    Let’s get the happiness thing out of the way once and for all: I’m happy with my life. The world is a beautiful and wonderful place. People are, on the whole, kind and friendly. I have good friends and a wonderful family. I am doing something with my life that I enjoy. I also love learning more about the world, and every tree, ant, cat or blade of grass I see is a wonder, because it was *not* merely created by God, but instead *just happened*. I think the fact that a world as complex and marvellous as ours can occur out of nothing but nothingness and time is such a beautiful thought that all the Gods in the world pale by comparison. Honestly, where is the wonder in God creating the giraffe? I’m much more impressed at the natural world doing so.

    As for my personal beliefs, or lack thereof, they too make me happy. I am happy that I can use swearwords without fearing divine retribution. I am happy that I can do and say what I believe is right without worrying that I’m contradicting the Bible. I can say that homosexuals should be allowed to do whatever they like, including getting married. The Bible might object, but why would that bother me? I can say that slavery is bad, because I don’t have to contend with the Bible’s many statements talking about slavery as the most natural thing in the world. I don’t have to worry every day about how God will judge me. I know that my life is in my hands and mine alone. I know that if I am unlucky, it is not because God has decided to punish me — it is simply coincidence. I know that when things go my way, it is because I earned it, I made it so.

    I am even able to participate in discussions about belief and religion without feeling the least worried or upset. I don’t have a God that might turn out to be a lie.

    I have a good life. I enjoy it. I am happy.

    Any other atheists want to reassure everyone that they’re happy?

    Oh, perhaps I should finish with actually commenting on the original subject:

    I don’t really see the big deal personally. It’s not something that’d strike me if I walked past that piece of paper. It doesn’t even say that wrestling is an exclusively Christian activity. It doesn’t say that wrestlers should be Christian. It simply says that the Bible just so happens to mention wrestling. A curious fact, and little more.
    But yes, abstractly, I can see the problem. It is the wrong signal to send in a public school that shouldn’t have any religious affiliation. It’s just not something I’d have thought about if it hadn’t been spelled out here.

  • Dee:

    Wow, Mom. If your brand of contemptuous Christianity is representative of what Rechelle has had to deal with all these years, I can see why she has run screaming from the fold.

    For the record, I was raised Catholic. Went to private Catholic school for 10 years and believed in it all hook, line and sinker until I was 19 and began University education when it all became patently clear that Christianity is just one of the many world religions fabricated by humans to resolve an internal need.

    Since then I’ve been an atheist. A very happy one at that. I can truly appreciate the world around me and the people I interact with every day without the yoke of religion clouding my actions or impressions. Morality does not stem from religion – it’s an inaccurate presumption made by the religious.

    And thinking critically and pointing out injustices that Rechelle is now becoming aware of does not make her a bitter person. Okay, maybe it does a little, but imagine what it’s like if you’ve been living a lie and suddenly you realize what overwhelming indoctrination we are bombarded with on a daily basis. There is nothing wrong with pointing out those revelations and sharing them with the world because I am sure, on some level, it helps her cope with it.

    We are not a nation built on Christianity (please refer to jalf’s fabulous response on that topic). We are a nation that is secular, that should be secular and has been only until recently. That’s the injustice. Your comment “I guess today I am now finding out that atheist are not American’s either” I am assuming is alluding to the idea that if you are an atheist you are not an American. This is not only downright wrong it is incredibly insulting. Were our founding fathers not Americans either? And you talk about respect?

    Finally, why tell someone incessantly that you will pray for them when that is clearly what they don’t want? What kind of support is that?

  • Mindy:

    Interesting comments on this one. I’m a happy atheist! And I liked what jalf said about the world being more amazing as an atheist. Having a science background, I find that details in our world are utterly amazing just because of the natural processes that resulted in them. It’s a great thing to take a walk in the woods and be able to marvel at the symmetry and fractal geometry of the trees and the incredible beauty of it all in just one organism and know that you are also a part of those natural processes. It gives me chills.

    As for any perceived bitterness, I don’t see it. But I think looking critically at your surroundings and seeing the religious overtones that you haven’t noticed before is part of becoming an atheist and being annoyed at them is perfectly acceptable.

  • This so so NOT related to the post, but the Google ads today are PRICELESS. So funny!

  • Ted Powell:

    jalf wrote: Any other atheists want to reassure everyone that they’re happy?I’ve briefly commented on this already, but thought I’d add this: as a Canadian, I have health care that I’m not at risk of losing because of leaving a job or any other reason. Of course, there are other sources of insecurity, and feeling secure does not automatically assure happiness, but watching, with dismay, the “progress” of health care reform south of the border, I can’t help thinking that there are a lot of people who find the sense of supernatural protection very important, and who can’t imagine anyone without that sense being truly happy.Sure, there are times when I am briefly unhappy, for example if/when I’m getting to bed, and remember that I haven’t cleaned the cats’ box yet. But—being unhappy because I know that human society generally, Canada, my associates and friends, my wife, are who’re looking out for me, without supernatural assistance? Nope.Living in Vancouver helps, too.

  • And here’s what some loving, American, Christians do:

  • stephanie:

    I really don’t understand the commenters who keep saying that your writing now displays bitterness and unhappiness. I don’t get that at all. You are sardonic and witty. Not angry and hateful.

    I’m sorry that some Christians think that if we don’t believe in your imaginary sky father thjat we are unhappy people who hate Christianity. Criticism isn’t hate, and I’m perfectly happy without a belief in a god.

  • Linda:

    Enjoy reading your blog and find it insightful and intellectual.

    Having said that, I would like for you to learn the difference between the possessive “its” and the contraction “it’s”. You would sound even more educated:-)

  • km:

    Another Jezebel fan!! I’m pschyed. If you enjoy that site take a peek at unhappyhipsters.com . They must be atheists too (grin)
    Thread hijack over.

  • usawife:

    The Truth is still the Truth…even if no one believes it!

  • Ted Powell:

    usawife wrote: The Truth is still the Truth…even if no one believes it!… and a tautology is still a tautology, even with capitalized nouns.For a lengthier answer to Pilate’s question, here is a link to the Wikipedia article.

  • Carol:

    Lori, why do people get so worked up over Islam? Shoot, CHristians have a half nelson on education in this country – especially sex ed with the abstinence only federally funded education. (And some of the lies that go along with it.) It is not as if those of us who are not interested in Hollywood, yet are not Christians have the same kind of clout.
    I think this picture is hilarious, personally, but being in a master’s degree program with logic that is “I believe in God, because the Bible says there is a God, and so it must be true because God wrote the Bible..” I think a nice display would be wrestling through the ages with a picture of one of those lovely Greek marble statues of naked wrestlers. Let’s see how quick that gets taken down.

  • Lori:

    Well, Carol, this is just a shot in the dark here, but I think people get worked up over Islam b/c of the terrorists. Now. Hear me out. Judging EVERY Muslim by the few nut job terrorists out there is wrong. That would be like judging EVERY Christian by the few nut jobs out there that kill abortion providers or the ones that beat their children to death in the name of “spare the rod, spoil the child”. As far as the school system, it is funny to me b/c you say Christians have a “half nelson on education in this country” and every practically every Christian I know feels the “secular” world has a half nelson on education in this country. I think this is a classic case of perception is reality.

  • Cheyenne:

    Anyone else notice the last line on the second photo? The second sentence starts, “The wrestling match took place around 2000…” I’m assuming the caption is telling us when the wrestling match between Jacob and the angel occured.

  • Christina:

    Just wanted to weigh in as another “happy atheist!” I am able to enjoy and appreciate life more now that I believe it ends when I die. And I also love my life as it currently is and don’t want anyone to try to save me from it. :)

  • Cathy:

    Well little Biblical literacy goes a long ways….I had to skim through all the comments but I’m not sure why this image would as you said,”help the wrestlers find Jesus?” No one seems concerned that it’s promoting Judaism, it’s from the Hebrew scriptures, not the New Testament. It’s got nothin’ to do with Jesus!

    The stories in Genesis predate Jesus by a significant amount of time – 1st millennium BC. It’s a piece of artwork based on an ancient religious myth/story in our Western culture. I don’t quite get how it imposes Christianity on it’s viewers.

    I agree with the commenter who said that students should be educated in the Bible as literature. One good reason is it allows them to “unpack” these types of images and stories without immediately jumping to a literal conclusion. There is a “truth” in the poster, that wrestling is mentioned in ancient biblical literature. That’s all I got from it. I don’t feel required to take that story or artwork literally. Myth, metaphor and symbolism work for me. I’d tell my high school student the same thing!

  • kjmb:

    I had to laugh that your google ads today include:
    Earn a Bible Degree
    Study The Bible Online. Earn a Degree Today. Request Free Info!
    Rapid Response Chaplains
    are deploying to Haiti-dont miss this chance to help change a life!
    Sodom and Gomorrah
    Found, the Infamous Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah !

    Interesting…. Kjmb

  • Jadehawk:

    every Christian I know feels the “secular” world has a half nelson on education in this country.

    and they would be right, but it wouldn’t mean what they think it means. you see, the U.S. constitution mandates that all public institutions be fully secular. this includes public education. therefore, the secular world having only half nelson on schools means the schools aren’t as secular as they’re supposed to be.

    i already mentioned that “secular” doesn’t mean “atheist”; it also doesn’t mean “anti-christian”, or “un-christian”. what it does mean is a fully neutral position without promotion of any faiths or positions based on faith at all (or all of them equally, but that’s logistically and logically impossible)

  • Dawn:

    We get it, you’re an atheist. Move on, not every post has state this!! It doesn’t make you edgy Rechelle; it makes you boring. Write about something else. I know, I’ll just read something else. Maybe your sister’s blog. April blogs about many things and she’s funny.

  • just a farm girl:

    I have to agree with Dawn–the angry atheist rants are getting sickening. Unless of course you are an atheist who just loves to hear it over and over again. And then again.

  • Ted Powell:

    just a farm girl wrote: the angry atheist rants are getting sickeningCould it be that you are experiencing sickness because some of the conversation (which you are choosing to characterize as “angry rants”) is beginning to make sense to you? Just a thought. …

  • just a farm girl:

    ACTUALLY I was thinking the atheist “speak” is really no different than the homeschool “speak”. :) Lots of stuff makes sense to me Ted but I am not sure I KNOW what everybody else should believe.

  • Ted Powell:

    Follow the evidence. Back in the days of Roman persecutions, “faith” was “belief in spite of the consequences.” Nowadays it often seems to be “belief in spite of the evidence.”

  • just a farm girl:

    Ah but evidence– my friend– is in the eye of the beholder! And the most effective way to influence opinion is by the selection and arrangement of the APPROPRIATE facts. hah!

  • Dawn:

    Anything over and over and over again is boring. I think it’s more than being an atheist, it the angry part. I’ve been seeing angry on this site since they came back from France. If being an atheist is liberating, why is there so much anger, so much animosity? She said she finally able to be herself, so move on. I loved the posts about flowers (Rechelle is talented and has a great eye for plants), home decoration, raising kids, books, and fun with her family (yes, even her sister). Get a divorce, get a wig, get a potbellied pig, get a clue, those might be more interesting than I’m an atheist, I’m an atheist, I’m an atheist.

  • Tony:

    Did you write the school board?

  • CDW: I’m going to write you a letter.
    CD: Ok

  • Surely I’m not the only one who looked at that picture and thought, “Wow, it’s a good thing that angel didn’t know Kung Fu!” Anyone?

    Okay, maybe it’s just me.

    And sure, for anyone who cares: while I don’t generally self-identify as an atheist – “militant agnostic” might be more accurate – I’m certainly not a Christian, and I have a happy, fulfilling life. I mention this only because I do run into a fair amount of (self-identified) Christians who think that such an existence is impossible. Most of the folks who have posted here are more accepting, and I appreciate that – I know you’re out there, but some days it’s nice to be reminded.

  • Jadehawk:

    “Ah but evidence– my friend– is in the eye of the beholder! And the most effective way to influence opinion is by the selection and arrangement of the APPROPRIATE facts. hah!”

    only if you’re doing it wrong. a valid explanation must account for all the facts and evidence, and do so in a way that others can look at the evidence and the facts and check whether your conclusion is merited; and a newly introduced explanation must account for all the facts and evidence the old idea explained and do so better, more accurately, more completely; if it doesn’t it mustn’t be accepted.

    cherry-picking evidence for your pet-idea is always wrong. claiming that some subjective, unverifiable experience must be accepted at face-value is special pleading, and also wrong.

    follow the evidence: the independently confirmable evicence; ALL the independently confirmable evidence. everything else is intellectual dishonesty.

  • mythstothebank:

    Maybe they were just hoping to make it less homoerotic

  • Alex:

    Another very happy non-religious person chiming in!

    @Mom: you should read up on the Pledge of Allegiance. Quite an interesting little history it has there. Google for photos of the Bellamy Salute (aka Nazi salute) which was compulsory when reciting the Pledge, and read up on the late addition of “under God” during (if I remember correctly) the McCarthy era, thanks to the single-handed influence of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization. The original pledge was written by a Socialist Baptist, and was actually very very short and to the point, and, interestingly enough, had nothing at all to do with anyone’s god. Why did he write it? It was part of a flag-marketing campaign. They were (still are) selling nationalism.

    Compulsory recitation of the pledge has been, by turns, thought to be and officially found unconstitutional a number of times in its history.

    Little side note here: most Europeans find group recitation of the Pledge in schools to be a perfect illustration of the outrageous conservative/religious brainwashing Americans love to accept in their lives.

  • Alex:

    Just one more side note, it is my personal belief that people who refuse to use their brains in this lifetime are reborn as cows or sheep.

  • Keith Allison:

    @ Mom:

    We don’t hate Christians, although I realise that you need us to, so that you can feel that (self)righteous persecution that you seem to love so much.

    If anything, we feel sorry for you, wrapped up in your delusions as you are – although I know that this sounds almost as patronising as your declaration that you will love and pray for all us evil atheists.

    You know, I almost wish that you will never wake up from your magic fantasy world – imagine the humiliation of realising that you have spent your life believing ludicrous nonsense. If you ever do, I hope you can handle it with the honesty, grace and intelligence that Rechelle has shown.

  • Priss:

    @ mythstothebank Loved your analysis :-D