What Will You Do When Your Child Is Persecuted for Her Faith?
It doesn’t matter your child’s age. When your child comes home from school, melts into your arms, and quietly sobs, your heart breaks.
Here is what you need to know about my family: We are followers of Jesus Christ. We identify with evangelical Christianity; meaning, we view the Bible as inspired, inerrant, and authoritative in all matters of Christian living. Our beliefs are sometimes at odds with what is being presented at my daughters’ public school. From the literature they must read, to the curriculum on evolution and sexuality, to vulgar statements made by hormonal teens, I have had many opportunities to discuss with my daughters the merits of a biblical worldview, grace, forgiveness, and love. It’s exhausting.
This school oozes diversity and tolerance. I expect that. My family lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am fully aware what my children are required to learn in the State of California as well as the Bay Area’s liberal leanings. Two months ago this school set aside an entire day for the students to participate in diversity sensitivity exercises. Last month the school chose “Equality” as its theme for its annual school wide lip dub video as students lip-synced to a variety of equality affirming songs, including Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way.” The students view activities like these as ways for all people to be respected and accepted. I get this. But as adults we know these are efficient ways to condition a large group of young people to embrace whatever agenda is being pushed.
I have never demanded a teacher change his or her curriculum because it conflicts with my family’s Christian beliefs. We don’t yell and picket in front of the school or pull our teenagers out each time they are faced with a lesson or point of view we do not agree with. My daughters know they have to learn how to live in this world while showing respect, grace, and love to those who hold very different worldviews.
So when my daughter’s biology class was learning about the theory of evolution, she knew she would have to learn the material, take the test, and then move on.
My rant is not about evolution. My rant is about my daughter having to sit through her biology teacher using his lesson on evolution as a platform to bash evangelical Christians to the entire class:
“Evangelicals are violent and scream at people.”
“All other Christians adopted evolution except evangelicals.”
“When you have free time go to YouTube and look up crazy evangelicals screaming at the camera.”
“I’m so glad I teach in California because I wouldn’t be able to say this in another state.”
Let his words sink in. Imagine how my daughter felt as she sat there in class, while her classmates cautiously glanced at her because they were well aware of who she is and Whom she worships. After class my daughter approached her teacher and respectfully said, “I don’t appreciate you stereotyping evangelicals that way in front of my peers. My family are evangelical Christians.” Her teacher responded, “Okay, this is what I heard about evangelicals, but I’ll look into it and keep an open mind if you keep an open mind about evolution.”
Needless to say, my mama bear instincts kicked in. My husband and I met with the vice principal over this. I cannot offer you details about what action was taken by the school. To be honest, it doesn’t matter. The damage was done. This young biology teacher, in a blatant act of intolerance, used his position to indoctrinate a classroom of students to form an unfavorable opinion of evangelicals. His statements were false, ignorant, and strategic. His words had one purpose: to further his agenda by convincing his students to hate a specific group of people based on their faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible.
When Christian parents face situations like this we have four choices: 1) accept, remain quiet, and retreat; 2) demand apologies and make a lot of noise; 3) pull our children out of the public school system; or 4) make this less about the teacher and his agenda and more about the opportunity for my daughter to grow closer to Christ. In this situation I chose to focus on #4; but I am open to #3.
Isn’t this what we, as Christian parents, want most for our kids: to stand firm in their faith and grow in spiritual maturity, so when events such as this take place they boldly respond in a God-honoring way? Here is how God worked in this situation: Ultimately we knew my daughter’s teacher didn’t have a problem with her; he had a problem with Jesus. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). We knew this was not about getting even and seeking revenge. The Apostle Paul said, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does” (2 Corinthians 10:3). Even when my husband was still fuming over this incident, my daughter witnessed him praying for her teacher and for the students in his classroom. As I expected, this unfortunate incident made a few of her friends curious about Jesus and the Bible: curious enough to ask my daughter questions about her faith; curious enough to attend her youth group the following week. Praise God!
I don’t know what is to become of this biology teacher. There may or may not be consequences to his hate speech. It is in God’s hands how He will redeem this situation. My daughter has forgiven her teacher, and has learned a valuable lesson on the extent some people will go to ensure the next generation is godless.
How Should We Respond?
Parents don’t lose heart. Stay strong. When action is called for, confront the bully. Stand up for your faith. Pray for those who persecute your family. Walk your child through the situation to bring your child closer to Christ.
Pastors, we need your help. Stop hiding in the shadows. Parents need to understand the strategic persecution happening every day in our public school system. It is your job to disciple parents and their children about the motives, plans, and attacks that are brought upon professing Christians. It is not enough to say this young teacher is misinformed. To the contrary, this young teacher is on a mission. He has been taught that when God is removed from the classroom, young minds are opened to propaganda and manipulation. Pastors, now is the time for action. What is your plan to help the families in your congregations?
Teachers, we value your profession, but stick to the curriculum without offering your personal commentary about religion and politics. If you keep crossing the line, you will have more mama bears in the vice principal’s office and more families ready and willing to look into alternative ways to educate our children.
Jessica L. Thielen is a researcher and writer for NETAFIRM. She is co-author of Saving the Saved: How the Church’s Greatest Omission Led to a Post-Christian America. Jessica earned a BS in Psychology and a MA in Christian Ministry from Southern California Seminary. She is married and the mother of three daughters.
Contact Jessica directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saving the Saved is available at Amazon.