Christian vs Atheist

I'm sure by now most of you have either read or heard about the atheist girl at Lenoir City High School who is all out of sorts because the grown ups at the high school wouldn't publish her paper on how she is discriminated against since she is an atheist. Of course the whole thing has now gotten big attention in the local and national media. All the crazy groups, ACLU, Atheists United, etc, have gotten involved to promote their Godless agendas.

The grown ups at LCHS who decided not to publish the atheist paper have probably picked a fight they can't win in this upside down world we live in now but what bothers me most is the unbelievable double standard Christians are faced with.

About two and a half years ago the exact situation came up at LCHS with a very different outcome. A very close friend of mine's daughter and her friend who were on the paper's staff wrote an article for this very same Panther Press. Their article included references of a Christian God. Their article was also rejected by the grown ups in charge of the school paper simply because of the mention of a Christian God. Even with revisions, their article was never published. It was determined that it might be disruptive to the school body.

Where was all the outrage over the discrimination against the refusal to publish a Christian article? Where was the ACLU? Where was the national media coverage? Never happened.

It seems hard for me to see how the little atheist girl feels that because her article wasn't published, she was anymore discriminated against than the Christian children who also had their article quashed for the exact same reasons.

Seems like Lenoir City school officials right or wrong have fairly dealt with both sides of the issue equally.

Below are both the rejected Christian and atheist articles.

A Gift of Life

Fore note: The story below was written by Lenoir City High School students Tori Jenkins and David Ball, members of the school newspaper The Panther Press. The story was rejected by the paper's editor and sponsor due to its "religious content." The students revised the original story to remove any mention of a Christian God except when quoting others, but the story was again rejected for even more frivolous reasons.
The story needs to be told, and I am more than happy to share their story here. I am heartened that we have young people in our community who still hold to Christian beliefs.

Sequoyah Smith started the new school year like all her classmates at Crossroads Christian Academy. Nothing remarkable, except for the fact that just two months earlier, Sequoyah was in a coma at UT Medical Center, clinging to life.

At about 10:30 p.m. on May 17, Sequoyah left a Bible study in her Volkswagen Passat and headed toward home in a rainstorm. Moments later her car hydroplaned on a curve, left the road, and wrapped itself around a telephone poll.

Barry Smith, Sequoyah’s father, knew something was wrong when the power in his house went off at about the time Sequoyah was expected home. Unable to reach Sequoyah on her cell phone, he went out looking for her. Smith arrived to the scene of his daughter’s accident just as emergency responders were trying to free Sequoyah from the tangled wreckage. It was only when he got close enough to see the license plate that he realized it was Sequoyah.

It took rescue workers more than an hour to free Sequoyah. With Lifestar unable to land during the storm, they rushed her by ambulance to UT.  It was quickly apparent that Sequoyah’s injuries were life threatening. She had several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a broken pelvis.

Kelly Smith, Sequoyah’s mother was in Michigan helping her son, Josh, move back to Tennessee when she learned of the accident. She returned immediately, arriving at UT the next morning. There, she found some 150 people in the waiting room for Sequoyah.

Looking back, she expressed her amazement at the sight. “You don’t realize how much people love until you see something like that,” she says.

This was just the beginning of an outpouring of love and support for Sequoyah. Her friends were not there for just a short while; they stayed throughout the whole ordeal.

Sequoyah’s injuries were so great that doctors kept her in an induced coma. Though unaware of all that was going on around her, Sequoyah’s friends and family continued to gather. Soon they had organized a 24-hour prayer vigil. Little did they know how long it would last. “Some of these kids gave up their whole summer to sit in the hospital.” Kelly says.

In time, this group of young teens started to call themselves the “Green Team,” named for Sequoyah’s favorite color. Several LCHS students were among them.

After almost losing Sequoyah several times, Kelly says that it was prayer that kept her alive, “When we would pray, she would come back,” she says. Sequoyah spent a total of 71 days at UT, much of that time in a coma and on a respirator. “The whole time, Sequoyah was sleeping, and God used that time to heal her,” Kelly says.

Sequoyah awoke from her coma, and one week later, August 1, she walked out of the hospital, on her own.

Recently, when asked about the accident, Sequoyah said she doesn’t remember any of it. “I remember my legs getting stuck and I thought I was dreaming my friends were there. When I woke up and figured out what they had done, it made me cry.”

Sequoyah is now on the road to a full recovery, and the lives she touched are forever changed. Members of the Green Team still go to the hospital every Tuesday to pray with patients.

LCHS Green Team members say the experience was nothing short of life-changing. Junior Drew Marable said, “It was amazing being part of the Green Team…to be part of a group of people that after many weeks of worshiping and praying for Sequoyah grew closer together as well as to God. It was an awesome recovery to witness.

Senior Logan Hendrix recalled, “My experience with the Green Team was mind-boggling and life-changing. It is amazing what God does to put us back in place and on track.”

Mazie Perky, a junior, also tells how being a part of the Green Team affected her life. “It was an amazing thing to just sit back and watch. It was also amazing to see students from Lenoir City and CCA come together as a family and pray so faithfully for Sequoyah. We prayed for her from the night of her accident to the day of her full recovery. I feel blessed to be a part of the Green Team.”

Sequoyah’s gift of life touched the lives of countless others. Facebook and Myspace groups dedicated to Sequoyah now promote prayer for her and others. Sequoyah’s story spread across the nation, airing on CNN and elsewhere.

Corey Howell, a sophomore at LCHS, summed up Sequoyah’s recovery and the Green Team story this way: “It was a great experience. I feel blessed and proud. All I have to say, bottom line, God is good.” 

Click Here For CNN Video 'Green team' helps comatose teen* (It loads a little slow)

No Rights: The Life of an Atheist

By Krystal Myers

The point of view expressed in this article does not necessarily reflect the point of view of the Panther Press, its staff, adviser, or school.

As a current student in Government, I have realized that I feel that my rights as an Atheist are severely limited and unjust when compared to other students who are Christians. Not only are there multiple clubs featuring the Christian faith, but youth ministers are also allowed to come onto school campus and hand candy and other food out to Christians and their friends. However, I feel like if an Atheist did that, people would not be happy about it. This may not be true, but due to pervasive negative feelings towards Atheists in the school, I feel that it would be the case. My question is, “Why? Why does

Atheism have such a bad reputation?” And an even better question, “Why do Christians have special rights not allowed to non-believers?”

Before I even begin, I just want to clear up some misconceptions about Atheism. No, we do not worship the “devil.” We do not believe in God, so we also do not believe in Satan. And we may be “godless” but that does not mean that we are without morals. I know, personally, I strive to be the best person I can be, even without religion. In fact, I have been a better person since I have rejected religion. And perhaps the most important misconception is that we want to convert everyone into Atheists and that we hate Christians. For the most part, we just want to be respected for who we are and not be judged.

Now you should know exactly what an Atheist is. says that an Atheist is, “a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.” However, this does not mean that Atheists do not believe in higher causes; we just do not believe in a higher being.

With that being said, I can move on to the real issue. Before I begin, I want you to think about your rights and how your perceived “rights” might be affecting the rights of others.

There are several instances where my rights as a non-believer, and the rights of anyone other than a Christian, have been violated. These instances inspired me to investigate the laws concerning the separation of church and state, and I learned some interesting things. However, first, I would like you to know specifically what my grievances are against the school. First and foremost is the sectarian prayer that occurs at graduation every year. Fortunately, I am not the first one to have thought that this was a problem. In the Supreme Court case, Lee v. Weisman, it was decided that allowing prayer at graduation is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment that says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Special speakers can pray, but the school cannot endorse the prayer or plan for it to happen.

Public prayer also occurs at all of the home football games using the public address system. This has, again, been covered by the Supreme Court case Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe. The Court ruled that school-sponsored prayer is an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. If a speaker prays, it is fine. However, as soon as the school provides sponsorship, it becomes illegal. Sponsorship can be almost anything, even something as simple as saying that the speaker can pray or choosing a speaker with a known propensity to pray or share his or her religious views.

However, it is not just the speakers who we have to fear at Lenoir City High School. We also have to fear some of the teachers and what they might say about their own religious beliefs. On at least two separate occasions, teachers have made their religious preferences known to basically the whole school.

One teacher has made her religious preferences known by wearing t-shirt depicting the crucifix while performing her duties as a public employee. Also, Kristi Brackett, a senior at Lenoir City High School, has said that the teacher, “strongly encouraged us to join [a religious club] and be on the group’s leadership team.” Yet again, this violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. When asked if this was true, the teacher replied, “As a teacher I would never use my power of influence to force my beliefs or the beliefs of [a religious club] on any student in the school.” Regardless, the religious t-shirts are still inappropriate in the school setting. Teachers are prohibited from making their religious preferences known; the Constitution requires them to be neutral when acting in their capacity as a public school teacher.

Not only are religious preferences shown through shirts, but also through a “Quote of the Day” that some teachers write on the boards in their classrooms. One teacher has Bible verses occasionally as the teacher’s “Quote of the Day” for students. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment has been violated, yet again with no regard for non-believers.

But perhaps I would have more hope in our school and the possibility of change on the horizon if our own school board did not open their meetings with prayer. A person who wished to remain anonymous that has been present at school board meetings says, “They do have prayers. They pray to ‘Our Heavenly Father’ and end with ‘In Jesus’ Name We Pray.’” Not only is this a violation of Supreme Court law, but also a violation of the board’s own policy that prohibits prayer at school-sponsored events.

The whole foundation of how our school is conducted is established by obvious Christians. Somehow, this is unsurprising. If our School Board chooses to ignore the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Supreme Court, then it is no surprise that teachers choose to do the same.

I know that I will keep trying to gain my rights as an Atheist and as an American citizen, but I also need your help in educating other people to realize the injustice done to all minority groups. The Christian faith cannot rule the United States. It is unconstitutional. Religion and government are supposed to be separate. If we let this slide, what other amendments to the Constitution will be ignored? I leave you to decide what you will or will not do, but just remember that non-believers are not what you originally thought we were; we are human beings just like you.