Otherwise known as “See You at the Pole.” There’s another in the long line of liberal media-bashing of American Evangelicalism in the Daily Beast. Katherine Stewart writes about the program that has kids gather at flagpoles in schoolyards to pray regularly. While including lurid details about rallies leading up to such events, Stewart wants us to focus on the constitutionality of the practice:
At Starbucks I meet up with students who participated in the SYAP prayers at Bradley High School, another public school in Cleveland. “Everybody basically bumps into us on their way into the school building,” says a boy with a wide, freckled smile, “so almost every kid in the school joined in.”
I ask a curly-haired girl, a participant over the past several years, how she heard about the event. “Sometimes they make an announcement during lunch,” she says. “Sometimes your teachers tell you about it.”
I’m shocked! Peer pressure? I read this as I read another in long line of articles from evangelical (and progressive) Christians about the radical decline in religious involvement among young adults. These liberal conspiracy theorists assume teens have no power to resist the attractions of evangelical Christianity, that such acts turn people into unthinking, conservative Christian robots.
It didn’t happen to me. When I was in high school, we were granted permission to leave study hall to attend movies shown in the cafeteria by a local church. They were cheesy attempts to convert us, silly, really, because we were all already saturated with Christianity.
The reality is more complex than Stewart would have us believe. Yes, evangelicalism is a powerful force in American culture, especially in the South and in the heartland. But there are other powerful forces in our culture. Hollywood and consumerism are powerful as well, and have probably claimed the allegiance of all of those kids already, whether they realize it or not.