How would you feel to receive an angry phone call from your child’s teacher telling you they wanted to speak to you about your child’s language? This happened to me a couple of weeks ago, I still have the message on my answering machine. As I listened to the anger in the teacher’s voice I thought to myself that my son had said “the f word”. To my shock he had not said any swear word.
The message from the teacher said “….I was calling to discuss your son’s language that some people would consider offensive. I told him to stop using that term Jesus Christ and wanted to bring this to your attention before bringing it to the administration.”
After listening to the message I thought to myself “is that what he’s calling to complain about?!” Part of me kind of chuckled while part of me was angry, confused and torn. See, the teachers in the Bay City school have said “the f word” in class, s.o.b., several other words that would be considered “offensive” language to others including calling students faggots.
Now, understand that I was raised by a preacher and my Mother was a devoted christian, we attended church regularly. However, without getting into my particular beliefs, my immediate thought was “I didn’t think public schools could mix religion with state”. One of the first things I did was type into google “student gets in trouble for saying Jesus Christ in school”. To my surprise the first and only relevant page that came up was “Police crack down on students smoking at Bay City Central – Bay …” which happens to be the city that I reside. I read the article or blog to find that a student had been expelled for 3 days for using profanity “Jesus Christ”. All kinds of thoughts began to flood my mind like, why is “Jesus Christ” profanity and not some other deity? and is it just profanity if you say it in the wrong tone of voice or context?
On the day I received this message, I began to feel like the devils advocate since I had been raised in a Christian home. I then did research into the constitutional rights and the separation of church and state. The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires teachers, principals, and boards be religiously neutral. They are not allowed to promote a particular religion as being superior to another or superior to a secular approach to life. They are not allowed to be antagonistic to any religious or secular belief.
I did a lot of reading and for this teacher to state that my son was using profanity is truly a violation of his constitutional rights. Now, being the person that I am, I had a very long discussion with my son and explained my views and the teachers obvious views. I explained to my son that even though we probably had every right to make a stink about this, that probably the best moral thing to do would be apologize to the teacher and watch his tongue so as not to disrespect others.
I was upset about a lot things when this issue came up but mostly about other people’s dogma and interpretation of the scriptures being forced upon my child at school. However, I was glad for the opportunity to discuss a lot meaningful things with my son. I know what that teacher thought, he thought my son was using the Lord’s name in vain and breaking one of the ten commandments. There are many interpretations of the scriptures “..do not swear falsely by the name of the Lord…” .
Jesus Christ stated in Matthew 22 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind….You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these TWO commandments hang all the law..” Jesus was all about love plain and simple. People in the modern world keep putting their own spin on things. I don’t think enough people REALLY understand what Jesus came here to teach.
The Jews were concerned about the use of God’s name for blasphempy so they replaced God’s name “Yahweh” with “Lord”. I do believe that our words carry power and so we should guard what we say and state things carefully. If you have read the Bible even the first verse and you truly believe what it says then you know that words created the world we live in today. Genesis tells you “God said” let there be light and there was. Here’s a little interesting tidbit for you to think about. The name “Abba” meaning Father another common term for God the creator is a portion of the word “abracadabra” a modern day magician term. When you research the word abracadabra it means “I create what I speak”.
Words, we use them every day, most people not thinking about what silly things they blurt out where they came from or what they mean. I taught my kids at a young age that ass is simply a donkey and that it was even in the Bible. Judges 15:16 “…with the jawbone of an ass…” However, when my son wrote ass on the sidewalk with chalk at the school across the street (shortly after learning that it was only a donkey) he was of course punished and lectured by a teacher. I think my son was about five years old at the time. I then had another conversation with my son explaining why it was not considered appropriate, even though he had heard the pastor say ass in church, which is what sparked the original conversation.
As a child growing up in an extremely religious home I was not allowed to say “Oh my God”. However, this was said at school by all of my peers, on television and is still said in school today. I wonder how a school can say “Jesus Christ” is profanity and still allow kids to say “oh my God” in school? I also wonder how a school can allow teachers to swear in front of students. In Michigan there is still a law on books from 1897 regarding cussing in front of any woman or child. In 1999 a jury found a man guilty for using profanity when his canoe tipped over and he began cussing. He was fined and ordered to do some child care. Maybe the teachers at Bay City public schools should think about that before they swear in class again. Not to mention it could probably be deemed as contributing to the delinquency of a minor on some levels.
When you look at the real meaning of words it is all rather silly to say that some words are “bad” or taboo. Even the “n” word that it’s ok for african american’s to say but no one else. That kind of offends me only because that is censorship and yet they can call us crackers. Do you realize it was derived from the spanish word meaning black? It just became a “bad” word because of the way it was used. I suppose I should be more offended about being called a cracker because it doesn’t mean white. However, if you do a little research into that term it comes from the Elizabethan times to describe some “cracking a joke”. I really think what matters is the intent behind what is said.
When my brother and I were very small children we used to get mad at each other and argue. I could not have been more than three years old but I understood what swearing was and that we were not allowed to say those words. So instead my brother and I would start yelling our own profanities at each other. I would start by calling him a “chair” then he would top that by calling me a “table” and this would go on until we could think of no other objects to call each other. Then we’d pull out the big guns and use the unspeakable, I would call him “furniture” , yes the f word, furniture. He would then call me “universe”. Eventually it just got silly and we’d forget what we were mad about and end up laughing. I caught my daughters at the same age yelling at each other with their own made up words. They called each other “bo-bo” which I’m told is some kind of derogatory term now. We named our dog “Bo-bo” not knowing that it is apparently some type of “bad” word now.
I had considered asking the school for a list of censored words that students could not say in school. I considered going to the media especially when teachers are using swear words in class and showing R rated movies. I even considered contacting Bill Maher. I considered a lot of things, but decided instead to start a debate on helium. I am sure many Christians will not agree with me on this matter. But here’s the thing, you can’t say no religion in school and then push your religion on your students.