The Atheist Academic: Standing Up for Yourself!
Recently, one of my fellow atheist educators asked the following question:
During a faculty meeting, we were doing a positive things session about each other and our principal was quoting scripture, prefaced by, “I hope this doesn’t offend anyone.” I said nothing. How would you have handled it?
This is a tough situation. I’m not the most assertive of people in most situations, but this is one where I may have stood up and said something. The fact that the principal started off by saying that he hoped that the Bible verse wasn’t going to offend anyone shows me that he KNEW it was the wrong thing to do. I bet that he thought that was a kind of disclaimer, and since no one said anything, that everyone was on board.
When I sit and think about the situation, though, I don’t think the principal did anything that was THAT wrong. I assume that it was a group of adults in front of him. Otherwise, it would be wrong to make situations sit and listen to a Bible verse. I also am assuming that the rest of the session had nothing to do with the Bible or religion at all. In that case, I think it’s fine to quote from wherever you’d like to quote from. As an English teacher, I sometimes need to reference the Bible to explain allusions. I simply explain the story that the allusion refers to and help the students see why the author may have made that allusion.
My advice would be to go and speak with the principal, casually, about the session. I might highlight a few parts of the session that I liked and then mention that a Bible verse may not be the best way to unite the entire staff. If the Bible verses continued, or if I felt like he was proselytizing to the staff, then I would be more forceful.
Readers — how would you respond to this question? Have you ever had a similar situation? What did you do?