Well, neither. He’s a high school student. But he’s growing up to be a jerk. Perhaps even… a fick!
Pray for him….no, wait. Scratch that.
“My graduation from high school is this Friday. I live in the Bible Belt of the United States. The school was going to perform a prayer at graduation, but due to me sending the superintendent an email stating it was against Louisiana state law and that I would be forced to contact the ACLU if they ignored me, they ceased it. The school backed down, but that’s when the shitstorm rolled in. Everyone is trying to get it back in the ceremony now. I’m not worried about it, but everyone hates me… kind of worried about attending graduation now. It’s attracted more hostility than I thought.
“My reasoning behind it is that it’s emotionally stressing on anyone who isn’t Christian. No one else wanted to stand up for their constitutional right of having freedom of and FROM religion. I was also hoping to encourage other atheists to come out and be heard. I’m one of maybe three atheists in this town that I currently know of. One of the others is afraid to come out of the (atheist) closet.
“Though I’ve caused my classmates to hate me, I feel like I’ve done the right thing. Regardless of their thoughts on it, basically saying I am ruining their fun and their lives, I feel like I’ve helped someone out there. I didn’t do this for me or just atheists, but anyone who doesn’t believe in their god that prayer to Yahweh may affect.”
The “give me a break!” line in the tale: “My reasoning behind it is that it’s emotionally stressing on anyone who isn’t Christian.” What self-serving, disingenuous nonsense. More emotionally stressing than knowing you single-handedly unsettled the graduation experience of all his friends? What is so horribly “emotionally stressing” about listening to a prayer to a God you don’t believe in? Damon undoubtedly hears students praising sports team and bands he doesn’t like, or extolling TV shows and movies he thinks are boring. Does that stress him horribly too?
Most prayers contain generally positive messages. Is a prayer at graduation more stressing than, for example, having to listen to a valedictorian whom you thought was a conceited twit? Listening to the cheers for the school basketball star, as if he was really so special, when you know he is a cruel clod? Is Bastrop High School really a training ground for hypersensitive whiners?
What really occurred is grievance bullying, used to make lots of people unhappy so that a smug few can feel powerful by bending the majority to its will. Prayers are said before the opening of a Congressional Session and at the inaugurations of presidents. I’m not sure whether the prayer at Fowler’s high school graduation was necessarily illegal or not; such prayers are not per se a violation of the Establishment Clause, and Damon may not have had a case at all. (The ACLU does not come running every time a junior atheist whistles.) But his threat was enough to panic risk-averse administrators so he could crow his “victory” to anti-religion activists.
Such conduct violates the Golden Rule, as it is gratuitously inconsiderate. It violates utilitarian principles, because it sacrifices the happiness and enjoyment of many for the satisfaction of a few. If there really were some painful “stresses” placed on a few atheist students by having to tolerate a two-minute prayer, a utilitarian argument might be conceivable. The excuse, however, is like Native American activists claiming that they break out in hives because there is a hockey team called “The Blackhawks.” It would sound so much less attractive to describe what the coercive exercise really is all about: “We want to stress out the majority by making them do what we want, because it adds to our visibility, prestige and power.”
This is the recurrent fiasco of diversity politics in the United States. The majority is urged to tolerate the practices and attitudes of minorities, even those they find offensive, and minorities manufacture offenses to stop majority practices they don’t embrace.
Damon Fowler is being cheered and applauded in the atheist community, greatly increasing the odds that he will become completely insufferable as an adult. I believe this is unfortunate for Damon, and also bad strategy. The best way to sell the public on atheism is for atheists to prove that they can be caring, considerate, fair and respectful human beings without the influence of religion. When they encourage unfair, disrespectful, inconsiderate conduct in their young recruits, they are doing far more damage to their mission than a little prayer at a school graduation could ever do.
The fact is that a high school boy used threats to force an unnecessary change to a high school graduation program, damaging the graduation experience for most of his friends and his family.
It’s nothing to be proud of.