I was reading the Chicago Tribune today and my jaw dropped when I saw this letter-to-the-editor from Ed Leighton:
Eighteen months after graduating from a public high school, I had a chance encounter with Mr. Clark, my old guidance counselor. In what might have been a fishing expedition, he asked me who my most influential teacher was.
“Mr. Eitmueller,” I replied.
He then asked if it had anything to do with Christianity. It did.
I was a teenager in the ’70s and had succumbed to many of its temptations. As a student of Mr. Eitmueller, he was well-aware of the resulting changes in me, and it seems, of my potential. When he told me I’d be receiving a failing grade in his class, I asked if there was anything that could be done (you know, to fix that).
There was. If I agreed to read the Gospel of John that summer, he would agree to elevate my failing grade to passing.
Certain I had just made a great deal, I walked away quite pleased with myself.
As agreed, he passed me.
As agreed, I read the Gospel of John. By summer’s end, I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior.
Just imagine if Eitmueller had suggested reading any book about atheism…
Better yet, imagine a public school teacher telling a child who failed the class that he would change the grade to passing, but only if the student read the Koran.
There would have been an uproar then. The teacher would have been severely reprimanded if not suspended or fired. There would be an uproar now. Every Christian Right group would rightfully be after that teacher. Every administrator at that school would be inundated with emails calling for their heads.
But because it’s a story about Christianity, it gets a complete pass. Everything’s ok. The teacher is a role model. The letter makes it into the Sunday edition of the Tribune.
It’s sickening to me (as a teacher) that a child would receive a grade he didn’t earn changed in exchange for reading Christian Scripture.
Anyone want to make a bet that the Illinois Family Institute has nothing to say about this story? How about any Religious Right group? Any church? Of course not. They want more exchanges like this to happen.
Maybe some Christians can prove me wrong by writing letters to the Tribune explaining why they oppose this awful form of bribery.