Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Life is Wasted Without Jesus

William Swimminer, a Nova Scotia high school student was suspended for twelve days recently for wearing an offensive tee-shirt which the school and board deemed a violation of the human rights of others. What was the horrific slogan on the shirt? Well, you see it above: "Life is Wasted Without Jesus." My God --whoops, can't say that-- what depravity will young people sink to next?
Swimminer seems to be an earnest and some would say zealous --even obnoxious at times -- young man who believes that life without Jesus is unthinkable. Certainly not everyone would agree, but they are free to feel that way in this country. Somehow the school concluded that Swimminer's public but non-verbal expression of this conviction warranted more than two weeks of suspension.
There was considerable public outcry about this absurd exercise in political correctness. Among the most vocal were atheists who believe in reasonable freedom of expression. Officials first of all claimed that if the shirt read "My Life is Wasted Without Jesus" would be acceptable, as though the specifically subjective stance would make it more palatable. Eventually cooler heads prevailed and they decided that there was no violation of anyone's rights.
How bizarre. Walk the halls of a high school and it doesn't take long to hear profanity which, ironically, invokes Christ's name. There are slogans on tee-shirts which I find offensive but apparently don't upset the sensibilities of authorities. Why pick on a religious slogan, one obviously worn out of deep conviction? Surely William is well aware that this sort of statement will draw the derision of others but chooses to wear it anyway.
Does anyone else find this to be just plain strange? What does it say about the growing conviction that religion can't have any place in the public square?


Lori-Ann said...

I was sitting here thinking about all the things I could say about this, but I think today I will stick with an abreviated version of those thoughts. It's crazy."

Geo said...

Can I respectfully disagree? Surely you can "wear your faith" without disrespecting followers of other religions.

Kathy said...

Is it the phrasing of the message? "Life is Wasted Without Jesus".

Would it be OK for kids to wear t-shirts that said "Life is Wasted without Allah" or "Life is Wasted without Buddha".

In any of the three cases above it's a proclamation that your way is the right way. [And I understand that he behaved that way too]

Nancy said...

This is the first I have heard about this, but it doesn't surprise me. I have a colleague who teaches music, she was teaching music from around the world to JK/K students and included the Swahili song we have sung in church "We are marching, in the light of God", and she did it in Swahili. When a student asked her for the translation she gave it. A parent accused her of teaching hymns to the students. Not the case at all! This is just another example of the craziness we are faced with in the PUBLIC school system!!

lionlamb said...

Thanks all. It's great to get different outlooks and I appreciate where you are coming from Geo and Kathy.

From my perspective it isn't about whether I agree with this young man, which is why atheists are defending his right to wear the shirt even though they don't believe in Jesus, Allah, or Buddha. Apparently the board didn't think a modified shirt would be offensive, even though it mentions Jesus. As Nancy suggests, at times it appears that anything vaguely religious is considered a violation of rights when more than 80% of Canadians claim belief in God. How did we get here?

And don't you think a twelve-day suspension is a little over the top?

Keep the conversation going!

Geo said...

First I should say that I have just started my journey to God, and am not a member of your church. I do feel an affinity for the progressive social values espoused by the United Church.
So just where does your church stand with regard to religion in public schools? Does it make me a bad Christian if I believe the status quo seems best? Or should it be majority (80%) rules? I still recall having to recite the Lord's Prayer each day in school, some 45 years ago. What if the majority wants that?

lionlamb said...

Good questions. The United Church does not support sectarian religious educatino in public schools or opportunites to prosyletize for any group.

The UCC has supported including education abour religion in its various forms in the school system, with the argument that relgion shapes the human endeavour.

Geo said...

@lionlamb: thanks for taking the time to respond; I enjoy your blog!

sjd said...

Too many people spend too much of their time trying to control what other people are doing.
It's a control issue plain and simple. This person had a reputation of marching to his own drummer, and the school was looking for something to bring him into step.
Not a good choice though.