In a piece that’s light on facts and heavy on ignorance, Pastor Troy Schmidt writes that the Orange County School District should ban atheists and Satanists from distributing their books, but still allow Christians to give away Bibles.
He’s referring to the recent controversy where the district is considering banning all book distributions by outside groups because atheists want to participate and the Satanic Temple created coloring books for the occasion.
After claiming the coloring book mocks other beliefs — which it really doesn’t — Schmidt says this:
The Satanic Temple calls itself a religion. Pull it up on the Web, and see how comfortable you feel reading about its “benevolence and empathy” and “common sense and justice.” It’s Satan. He’s a deceiver. He’s about evil.
The Satanic Temple makes very clear they don’t actually believe in Satan. If it wasn’t for their name, you might mistake them for Secular Humanists. Their website is only scary if you have a visceral aversion to anything Satan-related.
Let’s use our own common sense. There is no Satanic Temple in our community; nor would we want it here. Neither The Satanic Temple nor the Freedom From Religion Foundation has any right being a part of Religious Freedom Day because neither are true religions.
He’s wrong on a couple of counts, the first being that “Religious Freedom Day” matters. It doesn’t. The question is whether outside groups can ever do a book distribution and that’s the decision the school board needs to make. If they say yes to one, they must say yes to all, and they can’t discriminate based on which religions are their favorites — or which ones they consider real.
As for whether they’re true religions, all that matters is that the courts (in theory) treat all beliefs the same way. If it’s a firmly held belief, Satanism must be treated the same as Christianity.
I also wonder whether Schmidt would consider Islam or Scientology “true religions.”
So what’s his solution to this controversy?
There are two ways Satanists can win if their coloring books come to town — if the materials are allowed in the schools or if the day is canceled. That’s exactly the group’s motive. It wants one or the other. However, the community and students can win if the materials are rejected and Religious Freedom Day is allowed to stay.
If the atheist/Satanist materials are rejected, there will be a lawsuit. The school board will lose. And they will have to pay out a lot of money in legal fees. That’ll ultimately affect the community and the students. So Schmidt is just flat-out wrong there. (A pastor being illogical? Shocking, I know.)
He displays a stunning lack of awareness as to how the legal system works. If Religious Freedom Day remains in place, nothing will change. The issue isn’t that the books are being distributed on that day, but that they’re being distributed at all. I have a hunch that Schmidt wouldn’t be cool with the Satanist coloring book being handed out the following day, either.
By the way, if anyone wants to write an opinion piece, it looks like the Orlando Sentinel will print whatever drivel you come up with, regardless of how well-thought-out your argument is. So good luck getting published!
(Thanks to Bill for the link)