Orange County School Board Chair Bill Sublette should embrace students having access to all religious materials provided by organizations, especially material from The Satanic Temple.
By Jacob Engels
Let’s start with this basic observation on the latest “Of course it happened in Florida,” moment that gained international attention last week. If you have not heard, The Satanic Temple wants to began distributing controversial coloring books after Christians and Atheists had already been disseminating their prospective materials following a new policy put in place by the Orange County School Board.
Christian Conservatives nationwide have become outraged and here’s why they are wrong.
1). If your product (religious doctrine, trinket, or political candidacy) is the best available option – then why do you need to tear down your competitors?
2). As Ronald Reagan once said “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.” If you are caught explaining why the marketplace should not have the option to be exposed to your competition, YOU ARE LOSING.
3). Conservatives are all about freedom, liberty, and the free market. Why is this any different? Religious groups should have the freedom and right to fight to gain new members, whether they are Catholics or Satanists.
With those three points in mind, it’s hard to understand why the Orange County School Board, or any school board for that matter – would contemplate the ban of the dissemination of ANY religious material to its students, after having allowed local Christian and Atheist organizations to do so.
Yes, there is separation of church and state, but there is nothing wrong with allowing ALL religious doctrines the right to provide materials to be made readily available to students, let them make their own informed decision – if you allow one group to do so, you must allow it all. If your religion communicates the most compelling arguments in your promotional material, then you will win a convert to the faith – if not, then you don’t. Whether that’s the fault of the messaging or the actual material DOES NOT MATTER.
So, when Orange County School Board Chairman, Bill Sublette, said this in regards to the Satanic Temple distributing coloring books in conjunction with Christian Bibles and Atheist pamphlets I became enraged.
“This really has, frankly, gotten out of hand,” Sublette said during a recent workshop. “I think we’ve seen a group or groups take advantage of the open forum we’ve had.”
Really Bill? Out of hand? Is it only now out of hand because of a highly controversial religious doctrine like Satanism has taken advantage of the open forum. You didn’t say jack ***t when Christians and Atheists distributed their material – so why now is it “out of hand” ?
Look, I understand the spot Sublette is in. It was a stretch for him to allow Atheists to distribute material, and that alone probably caused him enough headaches with Christian conservative donors and power-brokers in Orange County, so when the Satanists took advantage of the open forum, it was too far for Sublette’s moneyed Christian boosters.
That’s why he has decided to take a stand and push a vote on the school board regulations that allow Christians and Atheists to distribute their information. But this is where Sublette makes his biggest mistake and forgets his moderate past.
Sublette was never regarded as a right-wing conservative during his time in the Florida legislator and he was in fact attacked by the more conservative factions of the legislative caucus during his tenure. In 2008, he served as New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s top lieutenant in Central Florida during his presidential bid. Giuliani was regarded as one of the most moderate Republican contenders in the field of individuals vying for the GOP presidential nomination.
It was in this capacity that I met Bill Sublette. I volunteered multiple times a week for him, phone banking for Mayor Giuliani. Bill has never espoused right wing religious tendencies and was one of the most mild-mannered respectful people I’ve ever met.
So, when Sublette says that the school board will be reviewing this policy in lieu of the Satanist coloring book, I urge him to embrace the ideas of freedom and the free market – not act at the behest of the moneyed Christian interests in Central Florida and beyond.
With this decision, Sublette has the opportunity to stand for the free market and free exchange of ideas. He has the chance to say, no matter the religion, religious leaders have the right to be involved in an honest and appropriate exchange of ideas with the students of Orange County.
Politically, religious conservatives will hate him and resent him for this. But it’s not like they are going to fund a progressive democrat against him in the next election, and Orange County is far too moderate for a religious zealot to run for school board chair – whether they are Christian, Atheist, or Satanist. So, Chairman Sublette – I recommend that you allow the dissemination of religious material by ALL GROUPS in Orange County Public Schools. It’s simply the right thing to do.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org