Faith, Pluralism, and Chapel by Samantha Thompson

Here are a few thoughts from a previously posted article drafted by then salutatorian Samantha Thompson on a chapel and pluralism. Again, Sam was a dual star in both my AP US and AP European History courses, as well as a National Merit Finalist. She is currently a junior at Rice University in Houston, Texas. I post this out of great respect for my campus; I missed this chapel talk due to presenting a paper at a European historians conference in New York. But upon my return, students informed me of the heavy political nature of this gathering. This was a bit of an anomaly in that HCHS avoids political talks during its chapel meetings; I do respect that.  Below Ms. Thompson addressed the topic of faith and pluralism.

What is the one time each week where some teachers grade, others sleep, and still others skip altogether? It is the same time that students sleep, study, or text message. What else could it be besides chapel? It isn’t really the chapel’s fault that every speaker comes in from one or the other end of the spectrum and either way expects to rock our world. It could be a recovered drug addict or a life long believer that can now do something crazy impressive with his or her love for God, but everyone ends up the same in our minds. So imagine the excitement when we walked into chapel this past week to find something new, different, and, dare I say, interesting.

Although I do not think chapel an appropriate setting for a political message, no matter its Godly influence, I will not complain too loudly on that point considering the unusual ease at which I stayed awake. I’m also not writing to refute the entire Republican platform or attack any party’s beliefs. No, I will just touch on a few of the points made by our speaker.

I think it’s pretty much ridiculous to claim that the moral decay of this nation is linked to the removal of prayer from school. The fact that this happened in the early sixties as the sexual revolution was just taking off is purely coincidental. Let’s try the Vietnam War or the pill as more influential factors to the events of the sixties, not taking away that moment of prayer every morning sandwiched in between the pledge and announcements. Great examples of how prayer makes no moral impact on the student body as a whole are found in religious schools across the country. Students of such schools act “immoral” at just as great a degree and frequency as those at schools with no prayer. Besides, it isn’t as though God has been taken out of school completely. Every public school I have heard of has numerous religious organizations such as FCA and/or Young Life. Now religion in school is a choice, some people just get upset when young people don’t make the choice they want them to.

Also, it is true that the men who founded this country were for the most part men of God. It is probably additionally true that religion played into the decisions they made in shaping our government. But that is not any kind of proof that church and state should be one. Our country is not completely, but to a significant degree a reaction against Britain. Therefore these men knew how religion and government working as one panned out and weren’t too fond of it. Religion was taken out of government to protect it and the people’s choice to worship as they chose. On the other hand, I do agree that religious people can not separate their religious beliefs from their political. It is true that people of all faiths differ tremendously on the political scale from members of their same religion, but when voting all of your ideologies blend. You shouldn’t let the fact that most members of your religion vote a certain way sway your opinion, but if your faith leads you to decide something on an issue you shouldn’t dismiss it because you reached such a decision through religion.

Moreover, the statement about the polarization of the two major parties is a bit off. Candidates today are so middle of the road it’s a wonder citizens can pick. Worried about alienating voters, candidates dance around issues and compromise to an alarming degree. Take the gay marriage issue in the last election, where Kerry was against and Bush against it a little more forcefully. Such differing opinions that I don’t know how we will ever work things out! Now take that same idea and apply it to Texas. I’ve heard it called a split state, but anyone who knows anything knows it is basically red minus a very few strong liberal pockets. So do you really think that a very liberal candidate is going to win any kind of election in Texas? No, our Republicans are Republican and any “Democrat” elected in is really a moderate Republican or slightly left. Therefore, I find huge policy battles between the two major parties in the Texas Congress a bit hard to swallow.

The picture of all Christians as either Republican or confused old Democrats who don’t understand the parties have changed is a narrow-minded outlook that only alienates students and forces them into this little box of conformity. Forgetting the fact that we are young and just figuring things out and don’t really need to hear that if we believe this or that we’re going to hell, the statement is just plain wrong. While most Christians are conservative that doesn’t mean liberals can’t be Christian. We might as well say that since most African-Americans are Democrats, then if you are Republican than you must not be black…Condoleezza is just really tan. Platforms that include supporting social programs such as welfare, protecting the environment God created, and trying to bring equal rights to all makes me wonder why more people aren’t working to bring down these minions of Satan.

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4 thoughts on “Faith, Pluralism, and Chapel by Samantha Thompson

  1. Wow, I really remember that day and the emotions it stirred up. Have you heard what’s going on at Kinkaid?

  2. when did you give this? i don’t remember it? Good points even though I agree to disagree on some.

    and yes, I believe that you can be liberal and be a christian, you can be a christian as long as you believe in one core belief. Even though I think some of those beliefs previously mentioned are misguided.

    • When did Sam write this, Carson? Thoughtful. She was never at a loss for words 🙂 Keep in mind, too, that the view of Republican=Christian is rather Texan. Yes there is a strong contingency, but I would not say a practicing majority. Sociologically, most conservatives (according to multiple surveys/stats) want their money untouched and are socially liberal or socially apathetic (as in, what you do is your business). Sojourners’ Jim Wallis – an incredible man of faith – and very much a democrat. Outside of our walls there are people of faith with varied political views – across the spectrum. We are in a bit of a bubble – but there are many opinions out there.

  3. Metty,
    I would wager that the view that Republican=Christian may not be the entire nation’s view, but it’s definitely farther reaching than just Texas. I’ve seen and heard a lot of evidence to that fact in the two places I’ve lived, Arkansas and Oklahoma, and more than once have been attacked as a liberal, non-Christian. It’s always bewildered me that you can want small government to get to keep your money, but so many many people want to make social liberty laws, despite their cries for small government. It seems like you can’t have both, and as it turns out, I’ve yet to find one that can justify it. Actually, I’ve yet to find someone that’s even willing to discuss it.

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