No, I haven’t gone off my meds – can you stop asking that question?
After such a huge worldwide response to my posting of 14-year-old homeschooled Jasmin’s letter to the Northern Outlook last week, I thought a follow-up was necessary.
Many of you thought it was a hoax, and fair enough – the Internet is full of rubbish. But this morning I received the following email from Geoff Mein, editor of the Northern Outlook, in response to some questions I sent him about how the letter came to be published and if it was kosher:
The letter is real.
It was submitted by Jasmin, and because of her age we checked with her mother before publishing it.
Geoff Mein, Editor
Jasmin’s mother has herself spoken out in the wake of the global coverage here. I hope that will go some way towards satisfying some of the more vociferous scoffers, like “Denizo”:
I’m so embarrassed that I ended up here and read this. Please, PLEASE tell me the author is not so profoundly stupid as to fail to realize that this is complete satire, please tell me I’ve been trolled by all of these “commenters” who can’t figure it out either. For goodness sake… what is causing this? Must be something in the water.
There is something in the water, but it’s in the water that secular liberals drink. Some of us are hermetically sealed in gated communities of like-minded thinkers, and while this may be great for finding friends that you don’t want to block when you see their name come up on caller ID, it can over time create a kind of person who finds it impossible to comprehend that there are indeed people in the world who believe exactly what they say – and there are a lot of them.
Author and neuroscientist Sam Harris has been at pains to point this out on numerous occasions when he has been accused of cherry-picking extremist religious views to point out the folly of theism. His response?
“…religious extremism is not rare, and it is hugely consequential. America is now a nation of 300 million souls, wielding more influence than any people in human history, and yet 240 million of these souls apparently believe that Jesus will return someday and orchestrate the end of the world with his magic powers.
This hankering for a denominational, spiritual oblivion is extreme in almost every sense—it is extremely silly, extremely dangerous, extremely worthy of denigration—but it is not extreme in the sense of being rare. Of course, moderates may wonder whether as many people believe such things as say they do.
In fact, many atheists are confident that our opinion polls are out of register with what people actually think in the privacy of their own minds. But there is no question that most Americans reliably claim to believe the preposterous, and these claims themselves have done genuine harm to our political discourse, to our public policy, and to our reputation in the world.”
Most of the views on my post on Jasmin’s duck apocalypse scenario have come via the United States. It would seem that Harris is right.
Jasmin is part of the next generation. Google “homeschooling” in Australia and you’ll come up with Australian Christian Home Schooling on page 1. They boast to be “the largest home schooling organisation in Australia with hundreds of families being actively supported and three decades of experience.”
In the ACHS statement of faith, this is article number 1:
That the 66 books of the Bible are the Word of God, divinely inspired in all parts without error in its origin and the sole authority for doctrine and practice;
“Scripture and Biblical principles are woven into the curriculum, ensuring students are not exposed to humanistic teaching which conflicts with the Bible.”
This is not satire. This is real.
But you may still decide to go with the response of my friend John, who when I texted him to tell him the truth about Jasmin responded:
“And we really don’t think the ‘mother’ was the author? I think it’s a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top…”
At least he was joking. These people aren’t.
PS. By the way, according to ACHS, the kids mark their own work.