One of the things that made daily life in the bowels of the educorporate training facility we inhabited as youthful transgressors survivable was the occasional field trip. Now, granted most of these were to the local prison to participate in the Scared Straight program, but every once in a while our overlords would take us to a museum, or a Shakespeare play put on by incredibly serious theater majors at the local community college, which we called the junior college back in the day.
"But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? 'Tis the east and Juliet is the dawn. Yo J Cap. Whu dup girl?" Our betters thought that contemporizing the Bard was a way to lure us to the classics.
Anyway, even the field trip where we went to the state forest and the bus driver left without us probably wasn't as interesting as this one.
A mother is angry about a trip led by the head football coach at Breckinridge County High School. The coach took about 20 players on a school bus late last month to his church, where nearly half of them — including her son — were baptized. "Well, it's the boy's fault," said a spokesperson for the school district. "We asked everyone if they would like to be baptized, or if they would prefer to burn in hell for all eternity. Oh, and they could forget about playing time too. It was totally voluntary."
Michelle Ammons said her 16-year-old son was baptized without her knowledge and consent, and she is upset that a public school bus was used to take players to a church service — and that the school district's superintendent was there and did not object. "Well, in the superintendent's defense, she was drunk at the time," said a district spokesperson.
Coach Scott Mooney told Ammons' son and other players that the Aug. 26 outing would include only a motivational speaker and a free steak dinner. "Did I forget to mention that baptism thing? "The coach asked. "Gee, my bad."
Two other parents said in interviews that their sons told them that Mooney had said the voluntary outing to Franklin Crossroads Baptist Church in Hardin County would include a revival. "Darn straight, I told the kids about that," the coach said. "Although I may have called it a pep rally for Jesus, and I totally expected the cheer leaders to be there, except the pastor told me there's a rule against naked thighs in the sanctuary."
But Superintendent Janet Meeks, who is a member of the church and witnessed the baptisms, said she thinks the trip was proper because attendance was not required, and another coach paid for the gas. "So we took a busload of impressionable kids, and used adults they look up to and want to please to put this tremendous pressure on them to take Jesus into their lives, or sit on the bench for the season. I don't see what all the fuss is about," Meeks said. "Of course I was passed out in the vestibule at the time, so I really didn't see the whole thing."
Matt Staver, founder and general counsel for Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based group that provides free legal assistance in religious liberty cases, said there was nothing wrong with trip as long as it was voluntary and no public funds were used. He compared it to a coach inviting players to attend a play or to go see a baseball game. "Of course no one baptizes you as a Cubs fan for the rest of your life regardless of what team you want to root for at a baseball game, but let's not quibble over details."
Meeks said she would have sought the consent of parents for the baptism of students if they had been "7 or 8 or 9" years old. But she didn't think it was necessary for the players who are "16 or 17. Why, by that age most kids around here have kids of their own. And maybe if I'd found Jesus a few years earlier I wouldn't have been one of them."
She said that if Robert's parents didn't know that the outing was going to include a revival service it was because "he apparently was not forthcoming with his parents. Plus it's required that we blame the kids when the adults are stupid because we have college degrees and stuff. Besides, that kid's dad is a catholic. We're really doing him a favor by keeping him from becoming a papist."
Ah, it's so refreshing to find an educator who's concerned with the whole student.