#ExposeChristian Schools: Activists Lash Out in Response to Pence's Support for Christian Education
In the aftermath of the news that second lady Karen Pence teaches at a Christian school that holds to traditional Christian beliefs, the left went mad (well, madder than usual). Among other things that I don't want to type, Karen Pence was called a monster and condemned as unworthy to teach children. Vice President Pence quickly rose to not only his wife's defense but to the defense of the right of Christian schools to teach Christian beliefs. Of course, the tolerant left could not tolerate Christians teaching traditional Christian beliefs and the new McCarthyism has swung back into gear. At this moment, by way of protest, #ExposeChristianSchools is now trending on Twitter.
The tweets "exposing Christian schools" are predictable. Running the gamut from "Christian schools hate LGBTQ folks" to "Christian schools are anti-science," the hashtag trend has set the Twitterverse on fire.
I went to a Christian school from kindergarten through college and I want in on the fun, too. Allow me to expose my Christian school.
Before I provide some of my experiences, though, I want to respond to a tweet from Jesse T. Reese. Mr. Reese pompously declares, "If you are reading
#ExposeChristianSchools and want to push back, a few tips: 1. Don’t go the #NotAll route. These are systemic dysfunctions and an organized nationalist movement we’re targeting. Trust our collective experiences."
Really, Mr. Reese? Systemic dysfunctions? Any data to back that up, or are we just supposed to bow down and blindly worship angry Twitter users' personal anecdotes? Oh, wait, you've already answered that. "Trust our collective experiences," you command. I don't know anything about how you were raised, but I assume that you learned your tone of "DON'T QUESTION ME!" from somewhere.
Out of curiosity, Mr. Reese, what about my experience at a Christian school? Does my experience count, too? Or, since my experience doesn't fit your biased narrative, will I be shouted down and not allowed a seat at the #ExposeChristianSchool table? Will I be bullied in an attempt to silence me?
Frankly, it doesn't really matter how Reese or other angry Twitter users answer those last four questions. You see, I have a platform from which to shout my experience. A platform that reaches more people than most of the angry, one-sided tweets pouring out of the typing fingers of the #ExposeChristianSchool crowd. And I'm going to use that platform to help create a different narrative about Christian schools than the intolerant, bigoted narrative currently being created on Twitter.
My overall experience at a Christian school was one of love. It was evident that my teachers loved me and were concerned for my well-being. To be clear, I wasn't one of the good kids. In fact, I was an atheist until my late twenties. Even in disagreement and in times of being disciplined, it was rare that I wasn't aware that the authority figure loved me and was only acting out of genuine concern. Not to mention that during times of discipline, I had always willfully and knowingly broken a well-established rule. Even as an atheist, I couldn't understand people who got mad because the authority figures did what they said they were going to do if you broke the clearly stated rules.
It was at my Christian school that my curiosity was fostered and encouraged. Teaching facts is easy; helping kids develop curiosity takes talented and dedicated teachers. And the majority of my teachers strived to encourage me and my classmates to love learning, to explore, and to not be afraid of beliefs that contradict our beliefs. Reading a variety of books was required. Engaging ideas outside of our context was also required. I learned to think for myself at my Christian school.
My Christian school is also where my love for art was instilled. Music, visual art, theatre, and literature were an integral part of my education in my Christian school. There was no need for anyone to start a "Save the Arts" movement.
Serving others was an important part of my education. Because my school was a Christian school, preferring others was taught and lived. My teachers went out of their way to serve my classmates and me. I watched my school family rally around those who were going through financial difficulties, the death of a family member, or a prolonged illness. The example my Christian school gave was that our resources should be used to help alleviate the suffering of others.
By no means was my Christian school perfect. I have theological differences with the school and I don't agree with all their rules and standards. Of course, there were gaps in my education. The school was strong in some academic areas and weak in others, but that's true of all schools and not a unique trait of Christian schools. Are there things that I would change? Yes. But I wouldn't change my teachers' compassion, desire to see their students excel, and their servant's heart. I wouldn't change my curiosity, imagination, and love of learning that was developed during my years in a Christian school. In the main, I wouldn't change my Christian school experience because I am thankful for it.