The Common Good

If Cheerleaders Don’t Convert You, Chuck Norris Will

You know, I always hedge when people ask me where I’m from, because the second I tell them I was born and raised in Texas, all kinds of stereotypes pop up in the conversation.

Chuck Norris. Photo courtesy Christian Piatt.

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Yes, I can read.
No, I’m not a Republican.
Yes, I’m a Christian. No, not that kind.
No, I don’t ride horses, own a cow, oil derek or know JR Ewing personally.
And no, I do not think Texas should become its own republic.

But then, stories like this one come along that only serve to reinforce the negative biases against Texans that I try so very hard to debunk. Come on guys, work with me here!

Texas high school cheerleaders recently won a local lawsuit which allows them to continue to paint Bible verse on the large butcher paper banners the football players burst through when storming the field. They also wave “Bible banners” throughout the day. Not surprising, Texas Governor Rick Perry hailed the decision as a landmark of religious liberty. But a guy has to wonder how they’d respond to the Quran represented next to their Bible verses.

Pro-Christian bias aside, I’d be hard pressed to believe such a case would win anywhere other than Texas. After all, the cheerleaders clearly are acting as representatives of the school, and they are doing so at a public event, also sponsored by the school. So what I can’t figure out is how anyone determines this to be anything other than state-sponsored religion. Apparently I’m not the only one scratching their heads, as the case is now headed for federal court.

I tend to agree with the sentiments of Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who said, “When they (the cheerleaders) misuse their public podium to tell a captive audience that some of you have the right religion and the rest of you need to convert, that is not only bad law, that’s bad manners.”

Agreed. The only purpose this serves is to affirm the sentiments of the majority, or perhaps even that of a very vocal minority, and to shout down dissenters and skeptics into silence. Yes, it may make Christians feel really good to see verses from their holy text being smashed through by a bunch of heavily padded teenage boys, but honestly, how many conversions do they expect from this stunt?

Oh, and I’d also humbly add that claiming God is the reason you win a football game is just bad theology. Pretty sure God doesn’t care.

And if the siren-like allure of young cheerleaders doesn’t sway you, maybe a swift roundhouse kick to your sensibilities will do the trick.

Noted conservative and unprecedented badass extraordinaire Chuck Norris is making a case for every school district in the country to be required to teach from the Bible as a textbook in every public school. He and his wife, Gena, sponsor a program whose phone number is “1-888-BIBLE-NOW” (too many numbers, Chuck, but God knows I ain’t gonna tell him), with the aim, as stated in the video also linked to the cheerleader article, of “changing the course of our country.”

There’s a sort of duplicitousness to this kind of church-state tampering that not only smacks of the dying age of Christendom, but it also reeks of a desperate Christian constituency, yearning to force-feed their religion on people who have summarily rejected such approaches in the past.

As for speaking out of two sides out of the mouth, it’s presented on the one hand as an academic and historic piece of literature, to be taught as such in the schools. And yet, at the end of the video, Norris makes the statement that, “We can change the course of our country, and God knows we need it.” This is such a thinly veiled deception that it only casts further negative light on a Christian faith already notorious for embracing a “win at all costs” strategy of evangelism.

So, I have a simple solution I’d like to offer up that, I believe, will solve all of these problems. See, there are these things called private schools, not funded with the public’s tax dollars, and whose populations are self-selected. Within said schools, you can post as much religious signage and teach the Bible as often as you’d like. In fact, I even went to such a school for years, where I attended chapel twice a week and even took a class that taught an overview of the Bible. About half of my classmates were Jewish, but they and their families didn’t complain about the religious inclinations of the school.

Why? Because it’s private and they had a choice to send their kids there or not!

So, with that said, let me assure you that there is probably no shortage of families who would jump at the chance to pay to send their kids to Chuck Norris High School, where you learn to kick ass and quote scripture while doing it. And meanwhile, those who either can’t afford such a choice or who simply believe in a true Jeffersonian separation of church and state can continue to send their kids to publicly funded schools without being browbeaten by Christians with a clearly subversive agenda.

Christian Piatt is an author, editor, speaker, musician, and spoken word artist. He is director of church growth and development at First Christian Church in Portland, Ore. Christian is the creator and editor of "Banned Questions About The Bible" and "Banned Questions About Jesus." His new memoir on faith, family and parenting is called "PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date." Via Patheos.

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