Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A to Z Challenge: S is for Satan

I was searching the abyss of memory for a topic for "S,"  and then Satan rose from the depths.  Here's my story about Satan.

Most people think of Oregon as a liberal state, but I live in Eastern Oregon.  It's the red part of the state.   It's sort of the bible belt of Oregon and very conservative.  

For 7 years I was the vice principal in our one high school town.  Early in the school year the Christian students organize an event called "See you at the pole."   Students gather before school at the flagpole and pray.  Because it is a student-led event that does not disrupt the educational activities of the school, the administration does not intervene.

One year several students decided to express their displeasure of this activity by wearing devil horns, tails, and carrying plastic pitchforks.  I started getting phone calls about 15 minutes into the school day.

"My daughter is upset because YOU are letting students dress up as the devil.  It is not appropriate to have the devil at school."

Now, you might wonder how many phone calls I got from secular parents about the hoard of students praying and singing Christian songs at the front entrance to the school.  The answer is one in Eastern Oregon is surprised when people break into spontaneous prayer, even at a public school.

I explained to the Christian parents that freedom of speech allows students to express their beliefs, political leanings, and points of view.  If we allow Christian students to wear a "Jesus Saves" T-shirt, then another student is free to wear red plastic devil horns as a form of protest as long as neither expression creates a "material disruption of the educational process." 

Another reason to be grateful for retirement...I no longer have to participate in these stupid debates!


  1. Sad that neither group could leave the other in peace. The parent’s response: “It’s not appropriate to have the devil at school.” is quite telling.

  2. I am sure that incident made the local newspaper. There is nothing like religion to bring out hate and intolerance.

  3. Isn't it sad that intolerance so often springs from religious beliefs? A mix of viewpoints without judgements can bring such vitality to a discussion. But I haven't found that a lot.

    I faced a storm of criticism, hatred and rush to judgement some years back when various religious right organizations decided to campaign against one of my books -- The Teenage Body Book -- being used as a supplementary text in a high school health class in south shore Boston. My point was that correct information, particularly when discussed with parents, teachers or other important adults in a teenager's life, could help teens to make wise choices and decisions. I can't begin to tell you the hysteria and hatred among the populace, religious leaders, politicians and local media towards me and my book. However, reason and supportive adminstrators won out and the book was not banned in the area libraries and schools. The book, now updated, is, in fact, still selling well and will become an e-book this summer. And not all religious people have reacted negatively. I've had very positive feedback from Catholic nun friends and once got a call from a nun who was a Catholic high school librarian asking if I could donate a copy of another book I had written on sexuality that was out of print and had been repeatedly stolen from her library! Still, I'm so aware of the rigidity of thought and aggressiveness of some groups in pushing their beliefs onto others. This seems to be playing out more and more on the world stage. But it is a particular pain when you're a high school administrator, I'm sure. Happy, happy retirement!!

  4. This made me laugh. I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time, but "It's not appropriate to have the devil at school" is funny. Too bad we can't get away with saying God should stay home too.

  5. I get it. My husband felt the same way for the same reasons.

  6. Ha! Your response was perfect. And yes, it's one more thing to be grateful for: you don't have to intervene in these conflicts any more. :-)


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