Should Christian school kids be used as forced labor for politicians? I think the obvious answer to this question is: NO. Schools should not send out their students to work for politicians of any party, unless it might be an optional opportunity for extracurricular involvement–which might be a very positive engagement.
Let me tell you my story about being in a school that answered this question wrong (I won’t mention the school’s name–not looking to ruin reputations here.)
When I was a high schooler the Christian school I attended took my entire class off to a non-optional political rally. At this rally several politicians spoke and they were all from one party (which I won’t mention–again the principle is the point.) In the weeks following this rally we were told that elections were coming up, and while we were all unable to vote we were told we could make a huge impact by helping the campaigns of a few politicians. We had another rally at the school, in the room where our chapels usually took place, and a politician seeking election spoke and was prayed for. God seemed to have appointed this one to win.
We were told that for one whole day we would not have classes (cheers from the student body) and that instead we would all go out into the community and put out political flyers supporting the men who were running for office that we had heard speak over the prior few weeks (groans from the student body.)
The ones seeking election who had spoken had moral positions that aligned with those of the school, they said, and obviously the students too. Not only should we and our families support them and vote for them but we should also go out and work for them. So on the appointed day we came in and were each handed a huge stack of flyers, and then we were sent out to put them in mailboxes and on poster boards and go door to door campaigning for these men. We were told of ways we could use the flyers and told that we could not throw them away or let any blow around town loose–because that would make the politicians look bad. We were also instructed how to have a conversation with someone and convince the to vote for the men. It was surreal.
I was appalled at this. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I didn’t make a stink about it. Didn’t complain to anyone, including my parents. Instead we broke the rules; me and my buddies just threw the flyers away in the trash and found a park to hang out in for most of the day. Part of me wishes I had protested the event–rather than being a quiet objector. We were never told this was optional. We were never given other possibilities for this day. In fact we were given some sense that there would be consequences for those that didn’t do it.
Some of my friends ended up going to the movies that day after spreading flyers. Others spread out the flyers and found a place to smoke cigarettes in peace. One senior class couple stole off by noon to his house as his parents were off on a business trip. These were my fellow Christian school compatriots–the forced labor of the campaign team at work. I wonder how they vote today? I wonder if they might consider themselves Christians anymore? I keep in touch with several of them today–and most of them do not.
This episode left a bitter taste in my mouth about church and Christian schools. It made me think that the church was trying to brainwash young people to think a certain way, to vote a certain way, to have certain beliefs as core to their faith. Whatever kind of faith these people had, I knew at the time that I didn’t want anything to do with it. I understood that people thought the church should be active in state issues–but this just went too far.
I still can’t believe it happened.
Can you? Is it still happening today? I hope not. What’s your take?