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Solar Power
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Reply with quote  #1 


So, doesn’t this send the message that you can talk about, and analyze, any religion… except Christianity?








The Herald—Everett, WA

Bible essay stirs trouble for teacher



By Melissa Slager

The Everett Herald


LAKE STEVENS - The nature of God will no longer be part of an atheist teacher's American literature class at Lake Stevens High School.


Gary McDonald, 60, said he had no intention of swaying students' religious beliefs during a lesson last month.


"I regret in the strongest terms the trouble that I have caused," McDonald said on Tuesday. The goal, he said, was to get students to think.


The school's principal gave McDonald a verbal reprimand after one student's parents complained he was denigrating their Christianity.


Controversial lesson
Here are two parts of a class assignment on creation myths that stirred controversy in a
Lake Stevens High School teacher's American literature class:


The first asked students to identify how an Iroquois story of creation and the biblical account of Genesis serve the four functions of mythology.


The second is this handout titled "The Problem of Evil" that the teacher gave students to read.


"I would like to convey my deepest regret regarding the assignment given by Mr. McDonald," Superintendent David Burgess wrote in a letter last week to the student's parents. "I too was offended."


On Jan. 31, McDonald gave the class, which consisted of juniors and seniors taking it as an elective, an assignment to read an Iroquois tale of creation, "The World on the Turtle's Back," in the course textbook.


The textbook's teacher edition suggests having students compare the creation myth with other creation accounts, as well as discuss their own concepts of good and evil.


McDonald used the textbook's worksheet. On it, students were to give examples of how the Iroquois tale reflects four functions of myth - to instill awe, explain the world, support customs and guide people.


But he adapted the form, and had the class do the same for the biblical account of creation in Genesis. He provided a paraphrase of the story.


After they completed that assignment, he gave them another handout, titled "The Problem With Evil."


That handout, which was not part of the textbook's materials, asked questions such as how evil could exist if God is good and all-powerful.


Junior Lanae Olsen, 17, said it all went too far.


The assignment was offensive to her Christian beliefs, and came one day after McDonald told the class he was atheist.

"I just don't think it had a lot to do with the literature," Olsen said. "You can learn about religion but not in that way, by putting it down."


She has since switched to another class taught by a different teacher.


McDonald said he's given the assignment this way since he first started teaching at the high school nearly seven years ago.


This is the first complaint, he said.


"I assured all of the kids that it was not my intention to teach religion or endorse any religion. I made it very clear," he said.


As a result of the complaint, Principal Ken Collins spoke with McDonald and ordered him to remove the additional materials.


The teacher's additions are more appropriate to a college-level philosophy course than a high school literature lesson, said Arlene Hulten, a school district spokeswoman.


The lesson was lost, she said.


"It is appropriate for students to discuss their own beliefs on creation in a compare-and-contrast exercise," she said. "However, it was inappropriate for the teacher to share his personal beliefs, as it had a direct influence on the interpretation of the lesson."


In general, schools can teach about faith traditions - say, as part of a course in comparative world religions - but not advocate or oppose particular beliefs.


"From a constitutional perspective, schools can't teach the truth or falsity of religious belief, and atheism would fall in that parameter," said Alan Brownstein, a constitutional law expert at the University of California at Davis' School of Law.


"If this person was trying to influence children's religious beliefs in the classroom by telling them what is true or not true, that is constitutionally problematic."


McDonald said he only shared his beliefs after a student asked him about his faith. The boy had noticed that McDonald skips "under God" when reciting the pledge of allegiance.


McDonald, who was raised by a Jewish mother and Southern Methodist father, said his intentions were misunderstood.


Religion played an important role in early American literature, he said. The goal was to prepare students for the study of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," based on the Salem witch trials.


Ken and Claire Olsen are proud of their daughter.


"She made a stand," Claire Olsen said. She doesn't expect public schools to teach or cater to one religion over another.


"I just know that this was a little over the edge," she said.


Reporter Melissa Slager: 425-339-3465 or

“They can shoot me dead but the moral high ground is mine!” The 10th Doctor

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Reply with quote  #2 

I can see how you might take this stance; that is exactly what this article is suggesting. I remember when I was in Jr. High, my biology teacher was teaching evolution. However, even as a young 7th grader, I knew that half of what she was trying to teach was not based on any of the science she had been teaching us, the 'facts' she proposed were not substantiated by any of the scientific methods and she took offense that I disagreed with her (if I remember correctly, her words were, 'Walter, you are wrong, I am the teacher you go see the principle') Interesting, even today I am remembering how she completely 'protected' the apparent fossil remains of the Piltdown Man as the 'missing link' of human evolution. Oh to see her today) Anyway; I find that it doesn't matter what side of what issue you stand, if your opinion differs from 'mainstream' you are bad, if it happens to be of a religious nature, you best duck! I found, in my life, that christians (the small 'c' was on purpose), muslims, hindis, buddhists, agnostics, AND atheists each have their own feverishly wacko persons within. Remember, 'the squeaky wheel gets the oil'.

I always laugh when someone points out all the foibles of a self styled christian and say, 'They are Christian, why are they acting like that?' I always reply, you are human, they are human, being a christian doesn't mean you stop being human, it means you are saved and you have an afterlife, as long as you continue to try to keep the Word. Some people that claim one thing publicly doesn't always mean they ARE that in private. Count the number of Christians in the world, of those, how many has the news covered that ARE Christians and living the Christian life? None! That doesn't sale advertisements. the same for each and every religion on the face of the earth, for that matter, it applies to ANY group of persons and individuals!

I try not to judge, but I do, I try to be the person my God wants me to be, I don't always succeed, but I am trying. My faith tells me that the ONLY way to Heaven is through the belief that Christ died for the sins of ALL mankind, and all ANYONE has to do to get in is to confess that belief. Of course, once you confess not just through your mouth, but in your heart, God will change you from the inside, mostly because WE cannot change ANYTHING, only God can! Need proof? How many treaties by man have fallen (in some cases before the ink even dried)? How many more warnings from science will be found in next year to not be true at all? How many more times will man try to make a change that will fail over and over again?

Only God can change, and any change that does happen is only through His will.


Anyway, that is my belief on this subject.

I am what I am and that's ALL what I am!

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Solar Power
Posts: 1,904
Reply with quote  #3 


My biggest gripe with religion is that once someone convinces themselves that the religion they have chosen is right, and they have chosen to take what they have been taught about this religion on a faith basis, they then tend to shut out all other possible conflicting views, no matter how solid the evidence against parts of their faith based religion is.


Once someone becomes filled with faith they close their mind off to any and all alternative explanations for the world, events, and the people that their religion is based on. Worse still, people of strong faith often tend to become extremely insulted, and sometimes even violently hostile, towards anyone who threatens their religious views with logic, reason, and strong evidence that contradicts what their religion teaches.


It seems to me that religion is a trap. People of religion get locked into one belief and by pear pressure and their own desires to fit in, they let their faith become and excuse not to grow or accept any new way of thought and to deny or ignore any inconvenient historical or scientific truths that come their way if it threaten their religious views. If it is not written in their bible, then it simply must not be true.


I believe that it is this kind of religious faith based world view, in part, that is holding the human race back from reaching its fullest potential. We need to be able to use logic and reason to overcome old world views and to be able to distinguish what must have been man writing as God and what might actually have been words inspired by God. But if you let faith and an ancient text be your only rules for life and thoughts, and do not let any other competitive thoughts, facts, and theories get through that faith, then we are all trapped into a long dead past way of thinking. I say we are all trapped because those of faith are continuously doing their very best to hold back those who might have otherwise achieved greatness if only the chains of faith would have let up on them.


If your faith in God is strong then you need not be concerned if all the facts in a very old book are true or not. Even if Jesus was just a man it does not change the rightness of his words or the meanings he tried to convey. Perhaps some things were not as written and maybe some things were not said as written. Accept this as a flaw of man, not an attack on God.


People do not have to let the line by line text of an ancient way of life rule their lives today. We do not have to restrict research and scientific endeavors because they would contradict old writings of old world views. We can choose to believe in God and still allow ourselves to have been evolved from chimpanzee like creatures and we can advance as a race without losing the most important moral values that those old text tried to impart onto us. We do need to be flexible enough to understand, and allow, change when it is time to change. We do need to be able to update what is considered right and what is considered wrong because, as we advance ever forward into the future, our world view is bound to change more and more as our way of life changes.


An evolved man does not have to be an atheist and faith does not have to prevent evolution.




“They can shoot me dead but the moral high ground is mine!” The 10th Doctor

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White Dwarf
Posts: 1,154
Reply with quote  #4 

I usually find that the less secure people are in their OWN faith the MORE adamately they close their minds to other faiths & views.


I really would be curious to to learn more about the student.  Unfortunately, with teenage girls I usually feel that there are other "forces," alterior motives,  at work.

Stay open to the possibilities.
Move without fear. Trust in those who love You
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