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A Letter to the College Press

Today's workout: an exercise in freedom of speech.

(Originally published May 4, 2014) 
 

I go to the University of Oklahoma. Every morning I read the OU Daily, an indepedent student-run newspaper. I always enjoy reading what is going on around campus; additionally, I like reading stories from student journalists.

 

The paper generally leads with a liberal slant. This normally does not bother me. I find it healthy to read and understand the arguments of people who hold a different view point. Last week, however, I found myself at odds with the paper.

 

The Daily ran a opinion article attacking the Mustang School District for teaching about the Bible in one of their courses. The editors took a strong stance on how introducing the Bible into the public schools is against the constitution and conflicts with the seperation of church and state. The article piqued my curiousity, so I looked to professional Oklahoma newspapers to see what they wrote.

 

That is when I discovered that the Daily had cherry picked facts and left key details out of the story. This caused me a great deal of irritation. I spent the rest of that morning writing a letter to the editors in hopes that they would recognize my argument and run it the next day. Unfortunately the letter to the editor spot went to an anti-Governor Fallon piece, rendering my entry null.

 

I want to post my original letter here, for no other reason than to express myself. I, like the Daily, possess the constitutional right to do so and I will use this platform to do it.

 

(Note: original article here.)

 

The Letter

 

Dear editors,

 

I am writing to you concerning your editorial posted on Wednesday, April 30th, about the Mustang School District’s addition of a religious curriculum. I am concerned with the facts presented to support your opinion.

 

Firstly, let me concede and say that I understand your point of view. Steve Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby and instigator of this new curriculum, is a very vocal Christian. I understand the threat to constitutional rights. I also recognize the unnamed legal precedence in your article, Abington School District v. Schempp, which made it unconstitutional to force children to read the Bible in public schools.

 

That being said, I did not see the full story presented in your article. According to Newsok.com, the class is not required but an elective that is being beta tested. Students choose to take this course, and approximately 170 students are already pre-enrolled according to the school superintendent Sean McDaniel. The fact that students are not required to be exposed to this curriculum rules Abington School District v. Schempp null.

 

The curriculum is not a permanent fixture, but a trial run. The school is consulting attorneys and taking care that they are “being fair…being balanced with the approach and the delivery of the curriculum and that [they are] not delivering a religious perspective to our kids,” McDaniel said.

 

Additionally, there is the use of a hyperbolic statement that is not based in fact and does not add value to the argument. When discussing how Mustang could use the Bible to teach students you asked, “Will they use the story of Noah and the worldwide flood to explain how mountains formed and animals migrated?” As you have not viewed the class curriculum, I would caution you against putting an untrue spin on this developing story.

 

Overall, I am thankful that you brought this story to my attention. It got my interest, and drove me to read stories online that presented a more comprehensive set of facts. While I understand the constitutional significance of this story, I would request that you show more respect when writing an editorial about any faith or doctrine by giving more light to the opposing argument.

 

Yours,

 

Nathan Robertson

Public Relations Junior

 

Finite

 

In the words of author and playwright Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton, "The pen is mightier than the sword." Never be afraid to stand up and speak your mind.

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