In 1981, Bell had just moved to Little Axe and enrolled her children in the local public school system. At that time, school officials were allowing a teacher-sponsored student group called the Son Shine Club to gather before school to pray.
Though the fundamentalist Baptist meetings were supposedly voluntary, the school buses dropped students off 30 minutes before classes started. Those who were not attending the religious meetings had to wait outside the building, sometimes in the rain or cold...
One student told a reporter with the National Catholic Reporter in 1984, “If you wanted to be warm, you prayed.”
Bell, who was very active in the Church of the Nazarene, wanted to be able to teach her children about their own religion. But her kids began questioning their beliefs based on what they heard at school. When they came home with Bibles, Bell and another parent, Lucille McCord (a member of the Church of Christ), decided it was time to take it up with the school board.
The two women were met with hostility. Bell recalled that board members told her “they did things the way they wanted to. If I didn’t like it, that was my problem.” Those at the meeting chanted “atheists, go home!” and one school board member handed out homemade placards to the crowd that said “Commies Go Home.”
That was just the start. After contacting the ACLU and filing a lawsuit, Bell and McCord became the subjects of hatred and even violence. Bell’s house was burned down by a firebomb. McCord’s 12-year-old son’s prize goats were slashed and mutilated with a knife. Bell was assaulted by a school cafeteria worker who smashed her head repeatedly against a car door. (School authorities praised the cafeteria worker, and she was forced to pay a $10 fine and Bell’s hospital bills, community residents raised donations on the assailant’s behalf.) McCord and Bell were both mailed their own obituaries.
Oklahoma Baptists, Americans United 63 Comments
[11/29/2008 12:14:03 AM]
Fundie Index: 24
Submitted By: Damned at Random