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SHS grad shares negative experience with religion in school
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My name is Rosa Elizabeth Town, and I am a 24-year-old graduate student. It has come to my attention that Bulloch County Schools are under fire about the issue of separation of church and state. As a graduate of SHS, I would like to share my perspective on the issue.
I was born in Statesboro. Growing up, I was a “good kid.” I was an honor roll student, cross-country captain at SHS, a member of the marching band, and a big fan of Georgia Southern Football.
I am also an atheist. I have never needed Christianity or God in my life.
As a child, my friends were all Christians. However, religion did not affect our play at Sallie Z. We swung on the swings together belting out “I believe I can fly!” We worked together on the math team, we reenacted the Civil War together. Looking back, I realize the incredible effort my teachers at this school made to be secular. Religion was not an issue; it just wasn’t part of the curriculum.
Everything changed when I entered sixth grade at Langston Chapel Middle School. I was made fun of for reading Harry Potter books, teased for not going to church, and just picked on in general by my peers. As is often the case with bullying, my teachers either didn’t realize the extent or chose to look away. My parents told me just to ignore it.
In seventh grade, my science teacher chose not to teach the chapter on evolution, but instead to “have a debate” since it was only a “theory.”  I was the only student on the “pro” evolution side, and this escalated the bullying. I was pressured by another teacher to join the Christian organization Y-Club, and out of loneliness and general despair I almost considered it. All of the “popular” kids were in Y-Club. I came home from school crying almost every day, and my parents were at a loss for what to do.
I changed schools and the bullying stopped. The infusion of Christianity into the Bulloch County School System, however, did not. Teachers openly supported groups like “See You at the Pole” and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. We said “God” every morning in the pledge of allegiance. I remembered the pain and exclusion of middle school, and I chose to compromise my sense of self in order to make friends, impress teachers, and just keep the peace.
It has been said that we are “losing our freedoms.” There already is a loss of freedom of expression in Bulloch County Schools. If Christianity had not permeated the walls in my schools as the dominant religion, I would not have been ruthlessly bullied or picked on. Just like at Sallie Z., whatever religion I chose to adhere to wouldn’t have been an issue.
The point is that it is fine to express your religion, whatever it may be. What is not okay as a teacher is to imply that Christianity is the only religion.
Rosa Town

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