Tuesday, September 25, 2007

See You at the Pole?

Tomorrow is the date for the annual "See You at the Pole" events here in the U.S. Years ago organizers settled on the fourth Wednesday of each September.

The idea behind "See You at the Pole," a decidedly-Christian thing, is simple: students gather at their school flag poles and pray. There's even a suggested meeting time: 7:00 AM. Adults, whether staff of the school or not, are also invited.

I have never gone to one of these. When I first heard about "See You at the Pole" back in the mid-90s the event was described in a way that made me want nothing to do with it. What I gathered was that it was all about getting around and even thumbing your nose at an assumed government hostility towards religion, especially Christianity.

Once again, I heard again all of that defensive and silly talk about God being kicked out of the schools (who managed to do that?), and about how, in the 1960s, the evil U. S. Supreme Court had outlawed Bible reading and prayer in public schools (lies!).

So I never went.

Earlier today I visited what appears to be the official website for "See You at the Pole." The wording there comes across as more reasonable than my original take. I still don't plan to attend "See You at the Pole." Maybe you (or a son or a daughter) do, or definitely don't plan to attend.

Why? What do you make of this?

6 comments:

Arlene Kasselman said...

Frank I am not sure about this either. On one hand, it is a way for kids who are believers to feel a sense of unity, and I can live with that. Yet the bigger issue is the whole "God and County" issue and that I can not live with.

Would I feel better if SYATP had developed a multi-cultural flag to represent the world that needs compassion and Jesus and kids were asked to meet around it for contemplation, mission, and prayer? Yes, definately. Not so much on the other. These kinds of reactions to the perceived lack of God in American culture crisis seem a little "Dobson-esque" or "moral majority-ish" to me and that makes me uncomfortable.

Royce Ogle said...

"Dobson-esque"? Of course James Dobson is not a tower of morality like say an Al Gore or Jessie Jackson. He has only spent his life trying to keep families together, insuring that kids have parents who are male and female, and preaching Christ as the only hope for fallen humanity.

Very dangerous huh?

Royce Ogle

Christian said...

Good Day :) God is Love, May you experience God's Love this Day, may we really learn to Praise him in all things :) Lets Share God's Love today :) You are Loved!

Arlene Kasselman said...

Royce, I believe that James Dobson has done some wonderful things in the world of parenting and family. His positions on God and country make me a little uncomfortable.

Do I think of him as dangerous, no. Does some of the other stuff make me uncomfortable, yes. I can live with the fact that some of Dobson's stuff I appreciate and some I don't. In this particular case it was in direct connection to the SYATP stuff.

I was definately not comparing his moral character to any other public figures. I am not a huge fan of either man you mentioned.

Deb said...

I'm with Arlene on most of this. I was teaching in Texas when SYATP began, and as a teacher I did not appreciate feeling bound to support this, as it felt polemic and contrived.

There are many wonderful, genuine Christ-followers who are teachers in America’s public schools, and they are going about their witness to Christ in quiet yet very effective, non-demonstrative ways. It seemed to me at the time that the SYATP campaign felt very like a Rah-Rah pep club initiative much like when our school admin had the high school basketball team run through the school halls encouraging all the kids to do well on their TAKS.

The whole separation of Church/State issues America seems encumbered with – a principle instituted into its Constitution by some influential founding fathers who were themselves sceptics of the Christian faith – has, to me, been a divisive issue with potential to keep the wider Christian community in that country from remaining focused on the essentials of Christ’s teachings. To be fair, I have to remind myself that America’s separation of Church/State principle is only meant to be applied inside its borders within the context of the historical fabric of its culture. If American Christians truly believe and adhere to this principle, then they should not whinge when the State comes down on any religious group for expressing its ‘rights’ publically. In America, it seems then that one’s inalienable right to freely practice one’s religious beliefs gets somewhat quashed when the State comes into the public classroom and tells the teachers not to openly witness to those students, parents, and colleagues in their line of contact. How free is that as far as freedom of expression is understood?

Contextually it does not fit within the culture where I now live, as we do not have separation of Church and State – which, believe it or not, can be quite liberating!

What both our cultures (American and British) struggle with is pluralism. Until we as Christians can learn to live peacefully and demonstrate Christ’s love to all those living within our pluralistic societies, initiatives such as SYATP, and political religious programmes such as Focus on the Family could viably foster polarity and create fears through intolerance.

Perhaps we need to continually revisit and study the ways Jesus and his followers in the First Century lived and moved in their society which was both very pluralistic and where, within the cultural context of its time and place in history, violence was used to keep corporate order. The Holy Spirit helped them transform a dynamic and enduring movement with subtlety, conviction, great debate, AND Christ’s new style of love.

Royce Ogle said...

Deb,

Have you ever read the Constitution of the United States? If so please point out to me where it even hints at a separation of church and state? Of course other than in the 1st amendment where the verbiage is "Congress shall make no law expecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

The founder’s fear was a state mandated religion such as our ancestors had fled in England. Or, the congress telling me or you we can’t pray at the flag pole at the local high school. The idea was to keep government out of religion, not the reverse.

Perhaps I am not as learned as you but I just don't see much of a problem with people gathering at a school and praying for students, teachers, and administrators. When I went there to pray my motive was not rebellion, my motive was to show my support for our school, and to ask God’s favor and blessing upon all involved.

Sadly, any religion is tolerated by the left so long as it is not one whose adherents are solely devoted to Jesus Christ. The fact that Christians are buying into the politically correct drivel of the day is truly sad.

I suppose you gals would have not approved of the Apostles who when warned about preaching Christ replied "we ought to obey God rather than men".

I'll take one man with solid convictions over a city park full of mush heads with no convictions any day of the week.

Royce Ogle