Friday, February 18, 2005

News from Home

My hometown (or close enough) is making national news these days. In summary, the local school board met this week to consider changing their WRE (weekday religious education) program. This practice has been upheld as constitutional. The program doesn't receive any tax money, and the students meet off the school property in either a nearby church or mobile trailer. The children are there with their parents consent as well. This is not really my point or problem with this news.

Now again, before you go thinking I'm about to go off on a rant here, stop. I participated in this program myself, and my father even had something to do with it as well when I was growing up (raising funds from our church to support it I seem to hazily recall). The only solid memory I have of the whole experience is contributing small amounts of change every week so we could send it to a needy child, who, in turn, would write us a letter (I believe from Korea). The program didn't really affect the way I turned out, so, I guess the end result is probably a good one.

OK, so I'm rambling here, but my main point is that it seems strange that the only time that the area where I grew up gets any news at all, it has to do with religion, and generally entails church versus state issues. At least they don't get into the news for this as often as Cobb County. I'm just disappointed in this portrayal. The area is about as red as it gets, and it has been for a long time. Rockbridge County just to the south is probably the only county in western Virginia that votes blue from time to time, and that's probably due to the influence of Lexington (home of my alma mater). Most people there go to church too, but with some exceptions, they are not of the Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson variety of Christians. In my experience, they seem a lot closer to what I would call "truly Christian" in that they still worry more about helping those in need than converting people loudly from the nearest streetcorner.

But there's a lot more to the area. The people there, despite this type of portrayal, are more kind, generous, and open than in many of the other places I've been (again, I'm looking at you Cobb County). On top of that, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth, especially in the fall, despite all the leaf peepers that descend on the Blue Ridge Parkway. How about some good press for a change!

Update: Edited for clarity.

Update the second: After speaking with my father, it turns out he was president of the WRE committee (one of those if you show up, you get nominated deals apparently).

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