A complaint I hear often in debates about church and state is about people who challenge violations who hide their identity. People who oppose separation of church and state think that people who sue should be known publicly as if not knowing their identity makes their case not valid. I respect people who challenge violations of church and state and use their real names, but as a case in South Carolina shows, it’s something you have to be prepared to do with eyes wide open. Some Christians really really don’t like challenges to their privilege especially if the complaint comes from atheists.
In Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Jordan Anderson and his family challenged the systematic proselytizing in his middle school. They won the case but the family was harassed for challenging the Christian privilege in their community.
“I had tons of bullying, just awful stuff I don’t even want to repeat,” Jordan said. “When some people make those death threats, they almost make you think they’ll really kill you.”
A year after “winning” their case — the family received a $2 monetary reward along with assurances that the district would change its ways — Jordan and company are still dealing with the fallout, which has ostracism and worse.
“I’ll put it bluntly,” Jonathan said. “There were a couple of kids telling him if he doesn’t get himself to God, they’re going to kick his ass. Yeah, it’s very Christian-ly.”
Before long the whole family was feeling the community backlash.
“People pulled up right at the edge of the road and cussed Amy out,” Jonathan said.
Said Amy, “Oh yeah, people would drive up in our yard, honk the horn and flip us off. We are still called ‘the dark forces’ sometimes. I’ve heard that a lot.”
Other problems encountered because of the suit are more clear cut.
“I still technically own a landscape design company, but because of all this and my name being out in the community, I can’t get work,” Jonathan said. “I’ve been told straight up it’s because of my religious views.”
For a time he worked for a Florence repo company, but shortly after a co-worker found out he identifies as an atheist, his boss made his job near impossible, Jonathan said, forcing him out.
The lawsuit wasn’t just about a Jesus picture like the recent event in Jackson Ohio but the 1st amendment violations were massive. Even the principal admitted he went overboard but he was trying to “help the children”.
Challenging any kind of social privilege sets one up for a backlash so I don’t blame people who decide to use pseudonyms and I really respect people who attempt these challenges using their real names.
It just makes me sick that a child and family trying to defend their civil rights get so much hate directed toward them from so-called religious people.