To the Editor:
During the past several weeks, a seemingly coordinated series of increasingly vitriolic letters to the editor have appeared in The Smoky Mountain News. One specific letter, titled “Religion doesn’t belong in schools” by Ms. Cory was shocking to me, as well as to many other readers of The Smoky Mountain News. Though many of the points seemed gratuitously inflammatory, the anti-Christian remarks specifically stood out to me.
It was stated, “religion doesn’t belong in schools.” I’m not sure if Ms. Cory is aware, but nearly half of Jackson County residents identify as religious, with the overwhelming majority being some denomination of Christian. To say that Christians don’t belong in the public school system is to say that almost half of our community should be disenfranchised from participating in education. Does Ms. Cory expect us to practice our religion in shameful secrecy, so as not to offend his sensibilities? Ms. Buchanan simply identified that she, like so many of our families, is a member of a local church.
When exactly did religion become a dirty word? We are guaranteed the free exercise of religion in the United States; therefore, suggesting that members of any religion should be banned from the school system is a gross restriction of that freedom. There are Christians already in the school system: children, teachers, administrators, and yes — even school board members. Should they be removed from the school system because of their religious views? Over the past few years, the national narrative has shifted to attacking Christians. Not only are these baseless attacks unnecessary and anti-American, they serve to divide our community. They also clearly show that the people making these outlandish claims have no policy to address or positive ideas to implement.
Several of the recent opinion pieces circulating in the local papers insinuate that Christianity is inherently partisan and only Republicans identify as Christian. Given that almost half of Jackson County identifies as Christian and Democrats have consistently won several local elections in previous years, I think it’s clear that these allegations are ridiculous and disenfranchise local Democrats who also identify as Christian. Being Christian does not automatically mean being Republican, which I’m sure many Jackson County residents can attest to. In every election cycle, at every level of government, politicians on both sides of the aisle proudly proclaim their personal religious ties.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi attend a meeting with the Pope himself at the Vatican. President Joe Biden publicly identifies as a Christian. So, should these politicians be stripped of their duties because of their religious ties? The recent opinion pieces should perhaps serve as a wake-up call to Jackson County Christians. Does the current Jackson County Democrat Party, attacking religion and engaging in unbecoming political attacks, truly represent you, the voter? More and more, people are voicing concerns that extreme secularism has taken over the DNC. Perhaps it’s happening here as well.
When going to cast your vote in this (or any election), ask yourself why you are voting. Are you voting against a policy? For a policy? Aligning yourself with a political side because you were born into it? Do you truly feel passionately that a specific candidate will represent you well? Or were you told to vote a specific way, without any details about that candidate’s track record. A school board election is about our children. Research both Ms. Clayton and Ms. Buchanan. Choose the policies that align with how you want your children to be treated. If one side can only offer fear tactics and smear campaigns, is that truly the vision you have for your child’s education?