The new pastor is a married 39 year old man, originally from North Carolina, who has a doctorate in church history. I was surprised at how fast the approval process went after the pulpit search committee approved him as a candidate for pastor after checking out his background. One week, he's giving a sermon, and then sitting through a Q&A session with the congregation, and the next week he's approved as pastor by an overwhelming vote.
I'll let you know more what this pastor is like as time goes on, but there's nothing to suggest that he won't be anything other than a typical conservative Southern Baptist pastor. Saying of conservatives, I noticed this in the church bulletin, a message from the Southwest Illinois "faith based pregnancy center" chain, Mosaic:
Harmful Sex-Ed Bill Passes in IL House
HB2675, the sex education bill mandating the type of sex education taught in public schools, has passed in the IL House of Representatives. This bill is supported by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and eliminates the right of school administrators to choose abstinence until marriage education programs; therefore greatly affecting Mosaic's program, ReL8.
ReL8 has taught over 30,000 students since 2006, but will be in jeopardy if this bill also passes in the IL Senate.
We need YOU to contact your Illinois State Senator and ask them to vote "NO" on HB 2675 so that communities may contain local control of their education programs.
(It then goes on to give instructions on how to contact your State Senator)
In short, they are angry that the state of Illinois is wanting to put in place a state standardized, comprehensive, fact based sex ed program, because some districts are allowed religious right groups like Mosaic to enter, and carry out classes, with the blessing of the local school board that promote abstinence education. This bill, HB2675, will put an end to that, here's the synopsis provided by the Illinois General Assembly of what the bill will do:
Makes changes to provide that all classes that teach sex education and discuss sexual intercourse in grades 6 through 12 shall emphasize that abstinence from sexual intercourse is a responsible and positive decision and is the only protection that is 100% effective against unwanted teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) when transmitted sexually. Makes changes to provide that all classes that teach sex education and discuss sexual intercourse in grades 6 through 12 shall satisfy specified criteria.
Provides that an opportunity shall be afforded to individuals (not just parents or guardians) to examine the instructional materials to be used in the class or course. Provides that the State Board of Education shall make available resource materials. Provides that school districts that do not currently provide sex education are not required to teach sex education. Provides that if a sex education class or course is offered in any of grades 6 through 12, the school district may choose and adapt the developmentally and age-appropriate, medically accurate, evidence-based, and complete sex education curriculum that meets the specific needs of its community. Provides that the Comprehensive Health Education Program shall include the educational area of evidence-based and medically accurate information regarding sexual abstinence (instead of the area of sexual abstinence until marriage).Full text of the bill is available here if you wish to read it, but in short, it will still include the idea of abstinence, but all information, must be fact based, and medically accurate, and students should not be pressured into choosing abstinence.
What do you think of this bill? It's still trying to introduce abstinence, but it's trying in theory to push out the religious groups, and teach from a fact based perspective. I wonder how it will work in actuality, but the fact that groups like Mosaic are howling about it, and groups like Planned Parenthood and the Illinois branch of the ACLU supports it is a good sign.
Hopefully progress will be made, but on a personal note, it's kind of disappointing that I still have to be the Undercover Agnostic in a church that is so right wing that I'm finding notices like this in the bulletin (and worse yet from the group Illinois Family Institute) is kind of disappointing, especially considering the fact that I'm still making regular donations to this church in order to keep up my cover (that really burns).
Oh well, freedom will come soon, it will be a great feeling finally coming out of the atheist/agnostic closet, but it will be a wild ride. I wonder how many people will still support me when I come out, not many people know right now.