What’s the big deal about beliefs anyway?

Cal Beverly's picture

If the contingent of Fayette Free Thought Society members and supporters of newly appointed Fayette Board of Education Chairman Leonard Presberg thought they needed to turn out in strength to protect him from harm — whether mental or physical — from rabid, Jesus-spouting Christians last week, they needn’t have bothered.

The few Christians who showed up at the Peachtree City Library Community Room to question Presberg on his beliefs and worldview were easily outnumbered, mostly silenced and maybe even intimidated by Presberg’s vocal platoon.

The remainder of Fayette County’s Christians and other monotheistic believers, it seems, were otherwise engaged in more pressing matters.

Here was the deal. A Catholic named Steve Thaxton read about Presberg being appointed without any voter vetting. Thaxton was concerned that Presberg’s membership in the local Free Thought Society raised legitimate questions about whether the new, unelected school board member could fairly and without bias represent the mostly conservative, mostly Christian mainstream in Fayette County.

So, come Tuesday night, more than 50 locals crowded into a too-small meeting room. Given the show of support from the group, Presberg’s backers numbered well over a majority of citizens there. He even brought several family members to witness his ordeal.

Presberg had asked a Peachtree City on-duty police officer to watch over the crowd as a precaution against things getting out of hand.

Turns out Presberg himself had to overrule his supporters at several points when some got a bit raucous about the few timid questions that touched on his belief system.

It lasted for about two hours, and Presberg himself noted that he spent a good portion of that time not answering questions about his belief system.

One of his supporters noted that the U.S. Constitution specifically prohibited “any religious test” for public office in the United States, thus implying that questions from voters probing an official’s religious beliefs are similarly prohibited. (The exact wording is this: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”)

But of course such questions from voters are NOT prohibited. What the Constitution says is that you don’t have to be a member of any religious group or hold to any religious belief system in order to offer yourself for or to hold public office.

However, the voters are empowered to inquire of you whatsoever they desire and make voting decisions accordingly.

The nation’s best-paid black actor recently stated that he voted for Barack Obama mainly because Obama is black. Should that actor’s vote be disallowed simply because he made a voting choice based on race?

Change “black” to “Christian” in that statement and the mainstream media would still be erupting in indignation.

Give Presberg some political points for this: He said that he intended to model “certain values,” including “kindness, love and respect” such as one finds in elementary school character education.

Presberg said that all of us are more complicated than simple labels and that the county “tends toward diversity.” There’s a “huge range of what those faiths may be” among Fayette County citizens, Presberg said.

But, Presberg insisted, politely but firmly, “My personal faith is not a topic for discussion.”

“I want to make sure everyone knows I respect their beliefs and I will never try to impose my beliefs on them,” Presberg said.

That’s reassuring, I guess, if only that he said he actually possesses some beliefs. I mean, he seems to be a nice guy.

Some otherwise intelligent commenters have said that Presberg’s beliefs are irrelevant. What matters — they say — is whether he can “do the job,” the job presumably being to influence the teaching of facts, critical thinking skills and a set of core character values to most of the children of this county.

If Presberg’s job were to install the same set of bolts on identical automobiles coming down the assembly line, I would agree that his value system, his core beliefs, his worldview would have little to no influence on whether he could perform that mechanical job.

But of course, that’s not his job. His job is to set policy, to make budget decisions based on his internal guidance system of what our children should be taught.

It is ludicrous and ultimately hypocritical to declare that personal beliefs — ideology, if you will — don’t enter into such deeply important policy decisions.

Beliefs drive policies, not the other way around. Ask Barack Obama. I repeat: Beliefs drive policies. Just a question of whose.

So, I suggest, Presberg will indeed impose his belief system on the school board and the school system, to the extent that his one vote and support from fellow board members Terri Smith and Janet Smola will permit him to influence how the schools are run and what they teach.

After all, isn’t that why we elect the people we elect: To impose their shared belief system on the government? Isn’t that what voters do: Elect a candidate whose belief system is most like theirs? But, of course, Presberg never submitted to voters.

Thus, it would be helpful, even necessary, for taxpayers to know just what belief system drives appointee Presberg’s public policy pronouncements. But Presberg says, politely but firmly, those questions are “not a topic for discussion.”

I disagree. Any public official’s ideology is fair game.

And a word to the folks who attend churches here in Fayette.

There’s a battle of beliefs going on in the public arena right here in Fayette County. Evidence indicates that most of the pastors and most of their flocks haven’t showed up for the fight.

I think most of them don’t even know there’s a battle going on. AWOL is the term that come to mind.

Prove me wrong. Wake up. Suit up. Show up. Engage.

[Cal Beverly is the editor and publisher of The Citizen.]

S. Lindsey
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Correct in your assessment Cal

I have had more then a few battles with the "Free Thinker" Society and their minions.

Like I specifically told Mr. Presburg and the rest, they squeal and yell if a Christian were to place their beliefs in front of policy, however at every turn the Atheist lobby will do the same in the name of "Science" instead of myths.

You are absolutely correct about the assault on Religious beliefs. It has been going on for years, but now it seems to have hit it's stride. I will not force my beliefs on others.... I expect the same from them.

Ask Mr. Presburg how he feels about the Ground Zero lawsuit over a cross. Did they ask the families that lost loved ones? Did they ask anyone? Nope, they just took it upon themselves to decide for everyone else that it had to go.

Sounds like they don't mind forcing their beliefs on everyone else do they?

Gort
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Cal, if you want to increase attendance

perhaps you could sponsor a science book burning, a mock Spanish Inquisition, and maybe even a good old fashioned Elvis Presley record smashing event out in the parking lot, where the meeting takes place.

Fun for everyone in the family and a moment we can all look back on with pride!

RKS
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Religion and Wars

If you study history, you will know that wars are all started because of religion. I don't blame the guy for wanting some support. I have met some pretty crazy right winged wackos in our fine County. It's too bad that all of those right winger religious people aren't as accepting of others as Jesus would like them to be.

Mike King
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RKS, Really....

...All wars are started because of religion? Please enlighten us on the causes of WWII, Korea, Viet Nam just to name three.

RKS
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Pick up a book
Mike King wrote:

...All wars are started because of religion? Please enlighten us on the causes of WWII, Korea, Viet Nam just to name three.

A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam [Paperback]

Mike King
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RKS

Your response is definitely lacking. Perhaps you spoke without thinking, or could it be your liberal slant making you feel entitled to be believed regardless of the voracity of your words?

Better yet, what experience do you possess that makes you an expert on the history of world conflict?

Veritas
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RKS .... Blanket assumptions= foot in mouth

Your Reference to the former nun's book has little to nothing to do with your assumption about religion and all conflicts.

Davids mom
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Actions/words of the Christian faith

A man who is considered the example of the Christian faith said: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Now Mr. Presbergs words are not too dissimilar - but those who profess to be 'good Christians' seem to be uncomfortable with his words. Interesting. What is wrong with his words which mirror his beliefs?

Quote:

He said that he intended to model “certain values,” including “kindness, love and respect” such as one finds in elementary school character education. “I want to make sure everyone knows I respect their beliefs and I will never try to impose my beliefs on them,

The mainstream media - and the public in Fayette County see where you're going with this attack on a man's belief system. His actions will tell us if his words are false. Your words are an attempt to have the citizens of Fayette County suit up against person because of his beliefs is very telling - and getting a little old, If this man does anything to discredit his office or hurt our children, you can believe that he will not be voted in to return, No one wants to be associated with a person who pretends to be a church goer - but feels that in order to market their paper, it is best to get the crowds to show the ugliness that was shown to blacks, non-christians, etc., etc., in the past. Report the news, and as is your right - express your opinion in the editorials. Don't be guilty of race-baiting or faith-baiting. Evidently citizens did wake up and showed up at the meeting. You can take credit for that. Thank you.

Robert W. Morgan
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Cal's Call to Action

Yes indeed, it would be nice if the AWOL voters would show up and get engaged for a change. That is something that hardly ever happens around here and no better time to start paying attention than this year. 3 county commission seats are essentially open due to the actions of the 3 incumbents. And oddly, 4 school board seats are able to be contested. In many ways the school board election will be more interesting because of empty schools, declining enrollment, out of county students illegally using our resources and the other tasks the new board will have to deal with - mainly closing some schools, consolidating districts and shedding some teaching and admin jobs.

You will notice I didn't mention the school chairman's character, his religion, his belief system. I must respectfully disagree with Cal on that issue. I won't vote for Mr. Presberg for 2 real good reasons. 1. He was appointed to that board and made chairman under some shady circumstances that involved Smith and Smola and almost certain under the table dealmaking. Won't be voting for Smith or Smola either. 2. I don't live in his new "district". And maybe that's the 3rd reason - the voters didn't get to decide on this new district voting. Not saying it is good or bad, just that it was done under pressure from a racist organization for the most farfetched of reasons and endorsed by just 3 people and now we all have to live with it. That really upsets me - Presberg's religion or lack thereof does not.

But whether Presberg wears a tinfoil hat when he's chanting at the moon with his fellow truthseekers or not discussing evolution or creationism with his family is as relevant as Santorum railing about abortion, Gingrich being a serial adulterer or Romney being a Mormon. In short - nothing to do with the job they are all auditioning for. Even Smola's lack of education and social liberalism isn't as important as her role in the district voting fiasco or her role in building schools we don't need or her role in actively looking the other way while Clayton kids cheat and lie their way into our school system.

So, for sure get involved, pay attention, do your research and perform your duty as a voter and get rid of politicians who waste our money and do stupid things. And replace them with people who can do the job we are hiring them for without regard to race, religion or national origin.

G35 Dude
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I agree RWM
Quote:

He was appointed to that board and made chairman under some shady circumstances that involved Smith and Smola and almost certain under the table dealmaking. Won't be voting for Smith or Smola either.

I too would like to hear more about the under the table deal making that went on here. All we can get from the citizen is more and more religious baiting. I guess real reporting is just too much work.

bladderq
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Here is the Under the Table Deal:

Let's see, the 3 of us can imagine that in house counsel is correct and after an expensive legal fight the FCBOE is a LOSER and 2 of us would have wasted even more of the taxpayer's money..Let's settle! Yet to see where our elected representative that is an attorney has gone Pro Bono on that county commission battle, which they too will LOSE! Even if he does believe some battles are worth fighting.

Davids mom
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G35 Dude
Quote:

I guess real reporting is just too much work

It is difficult for a 'newcomer' to get a hand on the under the table deal making. I don't doubt it - but there is no factual reporting of it in any of the local newspapers. (If I've missed it - please let me know)

G35 Dude
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Exactly DM
Quote:

It is difficult for a 'newcomer' to get a hand on the under the table deal making. I don't doubt it - but there is no factual reporting of it in any of the local newspapers.

Thats my point DM. Maybe there was no under the table deal making. Maybe there was. All we really know is that a here to fore unheard of individual was appointed to the board and then immediately appointed chairman right before the board makes one of it's most important votes ever. Seems fishy don't you think? At least enough that someone should look into it? Yet all the Citizen wants to do is attack the man for not revealing his religious beliefs.