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Operation Stress Students?

With words of concern for her student that ring hollow, this teacher's self-righteous opinion piece reveals a cold, closed minded bigotry toward Christianity. Don't miss Flip's response which follows the article.


Posted on Tue, May. 03, 2005

Operation Stress Students?

High schoolers ready to take stand against extremism and hatred


Special to the Observer

Once a week, I tutor a student who attends Myers Park High School. I'll call him David. Like most kids his age, David worries about doing well on the SAT and getting into a good college, so we spend an hour doing practice questions and essays together and, when there's time, discussing books he is reading in class. He has a great work ethic and is making steady progress.

I enjoy working with this diligent and soft-spoken young man, not only because he is dedicated to his education, but also because he is so open-minded, so willing to accept criticism. When David gets an answer wrong, he doesn't grow sullen or angry; he laughs, rubs his eyes, and prepares to try again. But what I like best about him is the fact that he pays attention to the world around him, not just the insular high school environment of which he is a small part.

In the middle of a recent session of intense test prep, David asked me if I had heard of Operation Save America. I said I had read about their visits to North Mecklenburg High School this past March. He told me that he had heard that Operation Save America was planning to come to his school. If and when the group came, he said, he and his friends were going to stage a silent protest by wearing arm bands.

Operation Save America, formerly Operation Rescue, led by the Rev. Philip "Flip" Benham and headquartered in Concord , says on its Web site that it "unashamedly takes up the cause of preborn children in the name of Jesus Christ." But Operation Save America is interested in protecting more than the unborn. The group is also invested in protecting the Christian world from the threat of Islam and the heterosexual world from the threat of homosexuality. The pamphlet given out by Operation Save America during the five-day "Bring God Back to School" campaign outside of North Meck in March was titled, "Abortion is Murder -- Homosexuality is a Sin -- Islam is a Lie."

David and I only have one hour a week together, so I tried to direct our focus back to his vocabulary words. But David wanted to talk more about Operation Save America. "They hate everyone who isn't white. They're like the new KKK," he said. His concern was palpable, and kept us from our studies.

I have always been in favor of teenagers being aware of the world they live in, engaging in current events, and developing a political identity. In the classroom, I have taught literature that challenges preconceived notions and demands that students think hard about why they hold the views they hold.

Discussions such as these are the backbone of a good education -- they encourage critical thinking skills and force students to come up with persuasive rationales for their arguments. But there is a difference between open discourse in the classroom and forced confrontation just outside its walls.

High school students have enough stress in their lives as it is. They have to make good grades, earn a good score on the SAT, distinguish themselves in important ways so as to gain admission to competitive colleges and universities, and negotiate their intricate social lives. They shouldn't be bombarded with pamphlets detailing one group's perception of sin or be forced to look at gory photographs of dead fetuses while on their way to a first-period English quiz.

It is distressing that Operation Save America -- or any group -- plans to target children coming to and from school. But leave it to our kids to teach us a thing or two about limits we should be setting for ourselves. At North Meck, students tolerated Operation Save America and took their pamphlets, for the first three days, anyway. On the fourth, they greeted members of the group with super soakers, water balloons and eggs. Members of Operation Save America clearly need to spend more time with teenagers -- they don't realize that the one thing teenagers really won't tolerate is adults who repeat themselves unnecessarily.

I'm glad to say that my student does not plan to resort to throwing things at members of Operation Save America if they come to his school. Quietly, yet with purpose, he and his friends are ready to stand up to extremism and hatred. In this and only this way, perhaps Operation Save America is doing some service to our children.


Observer community columnist Jessica Flaxman is a free-lance writer. Write her c/o The Observer, P.O. Box 30308, Charlotte, NC 28230-0308, or at jessflaxman@hotmail.com.

Flip's response:

It was with a very sad heart that I read Jessica Flaxman's article in the Opinion Section of the Charlotte Observer concerning the national “God is Going Back to School” campaign of Operation Save America. Her animus toward the God of the Bible and to our Judeo-Christian heritage is blatant and unrestrained. We have known for a long time of the ultra-liberal slant taken by the Observer's reporters, editorial staff, and opinion writers. One would assume that facts and truth are important criteria for those reporting the news, and for those writing opinion pieces in the Charlotte Observer but alas, it is not so. No. Innuendo, careless misstatement of fact, and deliberate obfuscation of the truth are the fare of the day.

Jessica's opinion piece is a prime example of the spiteful writing endemic in the Charlotte Observer.. Her only knowledge of the Christian proclamation taking place on the public sidewalks outside Charlotte High Schools is what she was told by a high school student (we'll call him David because Jessica did) whose school, Myers Park High School, has never been visited by Operation Save America. David gave her what he had heard (hearsay) and of course, what he had read in, you guessed it, the Charlotte Observer. Allegedly David told her, “They (Operation Save America) hate everyone who isn't white. They are like the new KKK.”

With this high school student's statement as her fulcrum she launched into a full scale attack against Christianity and those who dare live it out in the streets. She fulminated against those who would brave to say “Abortion is Murder – Homosexuality is a Sin – Islam is a Lie. Why was she so upset? Because, in her perception, none of those three is true. Jessica is god in her world (whether or not it is even close to reality), and if you don't agree, maybe a good pelting with eggs, water balloons, and super soakers will straighten you out.

Her pseudo concern for David, the students at Myers Park High School , and the stress they endure preparing for the SAT was only a cover for her real agenda – her hatred of Almighty God and His Word. She used David and his honest misunderstanding, to crucify with words those she hates. She talked about adults confronting the students, never mentioning that there were as many students with us as adults in all of the Operation Save America events. She talked about “adults repeating themselves unnecessarily” never taking the time to find out that we pass out a different tract to the students every day. She talked about a few irate students at North Mecklenburg (who believe that homosexuality and Christianity go hand in hand) never mentioning the parents and students who thanked us for being at that high school.

She never mentioned that at Operation Save America's visit to West Charlotte High School, which is predominantly black, we were met with open arms by many of the parents and students. Several of the students came out and prayed with us and asked if they could take our Gospel tracts into the school and pass them out.

Jessica Flaxman calls what we do extremism and hatred. And this certainly would be true if one believes she is god and then is confronted by the fact that she is not. Jessica, you don't have on any clothes. Your words have revealed what is in your heart. It is not hatred, nor is it extreme to tell you this – it is what the Bible calls love.

Flip Benham