Amy Lorber’s husband has written an op-ed piece for The Pilot to further promote his wife’s position about religious-based service at the local high school.
I sent the following email to Steve Bouser, Editor of The Pilot, in response. It’ll be interesting to see whether I receive any response:
Since I’ve had my letter to the editor published just last week, would you please be so kind as to forward this to Mr. Simon in response to his editorial about religious inclusiveness in school?
While I appreciate your concerns about religious inclusion and exclusion in the schools, I do believe you have missed some very important points. Actually, you had my sympathy up until the point your wife threatened to involve the ACLU. Then you lost me. Completely. But I’d like for you to consider a few things, here.
First of all, you’re in the Bible Belt now. The Jewish community is quite new to the Sandhills. When I was growing up, in Aberdeen, in the ’60s, “religious diversity” applied to the friendly (and sometimes less-than-friendly) competition between the Methodists and the Baptists (or the Baptists and everyone else). Catholics were few enough we didn’t even think about them, most of the time, and the “holy rollers” were in a class completely by themselves.
No one intends to be snobbish or offensive in matters of religion around here (I speak as a native whose family has been born and raised within 100 miles of Pinecrest High School for at least five generations on all sides, and a known eight generations on one). We just aren’t used to you folks of different faiths being here. We’re accustomed by l-o-n-g habit to think in terms of Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians… and once in a while we remember there are Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Quakers, and Catholics. And LDS… when we see the nice young men on their bicycles… And now we get to become accustomed to remember there’s a Jewish community here, too.
In fact, if I didn’t sub at Pinecrest, where I know a teacher who is a member of your congregation, I might not have even known a Jewish community exists here, now.
You also need to remember that the event held in the Robert E. Lee Auditorium was not a school event. A local cooperative group of (Protestant) churches rented the facility. You can rent the auditorium. Heck, the Zoroastrians can use the space, if we have any of them around here. All it takes is a few procedural steps with Moore County and appropriate rental fees… there’s nothing discriminatory on the schools’ part, in the event held last week for graduating seniors.
What we locals do have a problem with – and it is a very big one – is when people move here from other parts of the country – usually up North – and decide that we’re a sorry, backwards bunch of so-and-so’s who have to be fixed and brought into the Modern Era and taught how to think like you want us to think. We’ve never had a Jewish community before you folks came to Foxfire – but you have accused us of being deliberately discriminatory. We have men and women here who fought Hitler to liberate the Chosen People from concentration camps in Germany and Poland – and you accuse us of being bigots. We have people here, Christian men and women, who support the Nation of Israel as the political expression of God’s Chosen People – but your wife wants to sic the ACLU on us because a group of long-standing Protestant churches got together, informally, to hold a religiously-oriented service – at the only venue in the area large enough – to bless our graduates as they officially cross the threshhold into adulthood.
Mr. Simon, anti-Catholic sentiment runs strong in the Bible belt (in fact, although I never heard anything derogatory about the Nation of Israel or about Jewish people – quite the opposite! – I grew up hearing anti-Catholic cant) but you don’t see a bunch of Catholics screaming “foul!” over this Protestant endeavor, or threatening legal action against area Protestants, do you?
Now. Don’t you think the nice and effective thing – the neighborly thing to do would be to have called Deborah Richardson, who coordinated this event (and is another long-time native to this area, and a very nice lady – I graduated from Pinecrest with her), and said, “Hey – next year, can we work together to do something that includes non-Christians, too? Like our Jewish kids?” Dollars to donuts, Mrs. Richardson would have said, “That’s a terrific idea! I’m so glad you called!” And if there are still those Christians in the area who prefer a Christocentric religious observance, that doesn’t mean there can’t be more than one celebration – does it? I don’t think so.
So – I find serious fault with your tactics. If I could get past your tactics, I might have some philosophical differences with the forced “inclusive” rhetoric you use; but for now I’ll settle for ironing out the tactical offenses.
Wishing you all the best –