Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bible Class in High Schools Just Ain't a Good Idea

Nampa charter school to use Bible as textbook - Salt Lake Tribune

Like my Dad used to say: Just because you can get by with something, doesn't mean it won't bite you in the butt one day.

Well, teaching the Bible is public school is one of those things that will come back to haunt us one day.

Now I'm sure the folks up in Idaho at this charter school think they will be educating the students but we all know that indoctrination is ever so closely behind. One doesn't have to whip out the King Jim to teach the Genesis Creation Myth in comparison to the Enuma Elish since most literature books include the relevant passages.

The problem is not the legality of teaching the Bible but the functionality of teaching the Bible in a public school. The dangers are legion. Too many extremists on both sides have prayed for a class like this (pardon the pun) --- the Extremist Religious Right/Dominionists just can't help proclaiming the Genesis Myth as historical fact, that dinosaurs were on the Ark & that our nation was founded on Christian principles; ardent atheists can't wait to impress on these young, evolving minds that the Bible is a collection of fairy tales.

The possibility of a Pat Robertson teaching a high school Bible class scares me as much as Richard Dawkins teaching it.

Or what about a Bishop Spong teaching a Bible class? Would a conservative believer want Spong's ideas presented to high schoolers?

Then comes the very real political question: if the Bible can be taught in public schools at the insistence of a majority, the same law should then allow any other religious text to be taught in the schools. Who wants the possibility of a radical Islamo-Fascists teaching the Koran to 16 year old Johnny? Is that any different than a Christian Fascist telling high schoolers that the Bible teaches anyone associated with abortion is a murder & the righteous thing to do is to do everything possible to protect life --- imagine what can happen when impressionable minds hear that sort of rhetoric?

It is the same thing teenagers in Iran are told when they become suicide bombers to get Allah's glorious reward.

Here in GA, the Macon Telegraph reports that despite the Georgia State Board of Education's approval in 2007 of courses in the Bible as history and literature, at least ten school systems in central Georgia are not offering the courses in their high schools. Their reasons are varied-- cost, scheduling problems, church-state concerns and problems in finding impartial teachers. A spokesperson for the Hancock County school system said: "We found that since many of our students have such a strong spiritual upbringing that is firmly grounded in Christianity, there was very little interest on the part of the students to take such a class."

I was quite concerned that the Idaho charter school is using material from the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. (See Rob Boston article on this group.) That;s like Gandhi teach a class on proper shoe design.

Here is my list of questions that I think should be answered before any Bible class is taught to public school students.

1) What Bible translation will be used? KJV? NIV? NLT? Catholic? Jehovah Witness? Jewish OT?

2) What qualifications will you be looking for in a teacher?

3) What supplemental textbook is going to be used, since the group that helped the sponsor write the bill is the same group that sells the extreme right version of the supplemental text?

4) How will issues like tongues & baptism be handled?

5) Who will help formulate the lesson plan since the State is giving no guidelines?

6) Will the BOE members be influenced by their personal faith regarding this course?

7) Are you prepared for the guaranteed lawsuit that will come if this elective is taught since it would be the gov't sanctioning one faith over the rest?

8) Will this single issue become a rallying cry for the next political campaign as to what Bible version is used?

9) Will the content of the course become a political football so that the majority denomination on the school board decides how to teach a Bible course?

10) Are you aware that the other places where the lawsuit over this issue has been filed, it costs the BOE hundreds of thousands of dollars?

11) Will there be public meetings on the design of this course?

12) Will there be a committee of religious leaders to help design the course's content? Why or why not? Who chooses the religious leaders to be on this committee?

13) Will parents be allowed to sit in on the class?

14) Can we bring our attorney to sit on the class also?

15) Can we also bring representatives from the ACLU & AU to sit in on the class before we file the lawsuit?

16) Who's version of creation is given the preferred Biblical interpretation?

17) Will evolution be dismissed as anti-God?

18) Will it be taught that there were dinosaurs on the Ark?
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Liberty University Now Treats Political Clubs Equally

Liberty Learns A Lesson: Falwell School Accepts AU Advice On Political Clubs The Wall of Separation

Looks like Liberty University has decided that political favoritism won't fly.

You remember that Liberty University decided that all Democrats on campus couldn't possibly be faithful to the school's political ideas so the College Dems were barred from being an official school club. That's when the school's tax exemption was challenged for partisanship. (Link)

Now the school has decided that the College Republicans will be treated the same as the College Dems & neither will be given the college's endorsement.

'Bout time.

No political group should be endorsed by a faith, no more than a faith should be endorsing a political group. Faith should be about changing hearts & lives with the Gospel, not the voting booth or political posturing. Treating one political group differently on Liberty's campus is effectively saying God blesses one political view & no others, something I have yet to see in the Bible. Come to think of it, the Bible never mentions anything about public spending, voting bills, social security, health care policy, taxation (except that we are to pay them taxes, even going the extra mile carrying the soldier's burden), or the judicial system, etc.

Liberty is to be commended on treating both the College GOP & the College Dems equally.

Now for the question: why didn't Liberty do the right thing to begin with?

Monday, June 22, 2009

School System Pays Big Legal Fees for Violation of Church & State

Schools' legal fees top $450,000 in prayer suit Pensacola News Journal

You would think the schools would figure it out after a while: neither schools nor their employees may advocate religion. It is a simple concept. It is part of our Constitution. Any history major knows this is not even a gray area. Schools may not give faith a Most Favored Status. Period.

Evidently some Godslingers in one Florida school system are having to pay a price to learn that lesson all over again.

The school system settled the case back in March 2009, agreeing that prayer & religious activities would no longer be promoted as an official act by a school or school employee. Then some employee got the bright idea that the law didn't apply & that one is back in court.

In the mean time, the ACLU has attorney fees of $250,000 the school will have to pay. Ouch.

The school's insurance policy will cover part of the cost but the system will have to fork over the rest --- not to mention the other legal fees still pending.

The reason this is done is simple: the gov't has unlimited resources. The typical tax payer doesn't. The gov't needs a financial incentive to make sure it doesn't violate civil liberties, lest the gov't just outspend the very people who bring the suit after having their rights violated. If a person can't afford the fight, the school/gov't has no reason not to violate liberties if it wants. But the system is set up so that if it is found the rights were violated, the school/gov't has to pay the legal bills. After all, one shouldn't have to pay the legal fees to get the liberties that the gov't should be protecting in the first place. Rights are free, not purchased.

Perhaps this would be a reminder to all schools/gov't bodies across the nation: rights cannot be trampled upon simply because the majority doesn't agree with the minority.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hot as Alabama

Been away on business for the last week and finished early today. All I can say is that Muscle Shoals, AL, is not the hottest place I've been too, but it was almost unbearable last week. 

I don't mind getting away from the office. Kinda like it, though the work just piles up while I'm away. Still, working away from the office, meeting the folks in Bama, all add up to a good opportunity to relax a bit.

Relaxation. I rounded up a gang to play soccer yesterday during the only afternoon when I didn't have any meetings. Managed only 2 shots on goal. My knee held up, thank God. The Good Guys pulled out a 6-5 victory.

We all shared the cold water, laughed, slapped each other on the back & left the game on the field.

Tomorrow will be a travel morning & I have nothing else scheduled until tomorrow evening. While I apologize for not being able to post on my blog or even answer my emails in a week, the respite was good for me.

Now ... early sleep & will hit the road early in the morning.

By the way, the Marriott in Florence, AL, has some serious issues with customer service. I'll leave that scathing complaint to the email.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Prop 8 & Sex With Ducks

I borrowed this from Roy Donkin's blog (Thin Places). He is the pastor at Cambridge Drive Community Church in Goleta, CA. Good blog.

He posted this. Gets the point across.

PBS Won't Allow Sectarian Broadcasting

Although the rule has been on the books since 1985, PBS has decided it will not force six PBS stations that currently carry sectarian programming to end their current coverage. However, no more purely religious programming will be allowed on the more than 350 PBS stations across the nation.

The Mass for Shut-Ins in New Orleans & Denver may continue. So may the Mormon devotionals on Brigham Young University's PBS station. Documentaries on religious topics will still be allowed, as well as news coverage of religious events.

Although Federal statute doesn't prohibit religious programming, PBS execs decided they didn't want to give the appearance of an endorsement of faith while using tax payer funds.

Fox News story.

Godslingers and Miss California, Carrie Prejean

Her 15 minutes of fame is up. Carrie Prejean said she didn't think gays should be allowed to marry. That got the Godslingers' legs all tingly & Miss California became the poster girl of a different sort: Godslingers' 38 ... caliber, of course.

But the news gets even worse. Evidently Prejean had all sorts of problems & The Donald finally had enough of her antics & failure to follow the contract. She got canned. (Click here for news article.) Racy photos. Not divulging all the info to pageant officials. Not abiding by the contract obligations.

Her opposition to gay marriage is more virtuous to Godslingers than honoring her legal obligations & keeping her word. Go figure.
Of course, she is saying the reason she was forced out was her opposition to allowing a legal contract in CA for American citizens in love. Never mind that contract is allowed for straight couples but denied to gay couples on the legal basis of ... well, I can't think of any legal basis. I do have plenty of terms to describe the bigotry that wants to keep gay couples from having the same rights as straight couples.

But then this little gem caught my attention. It is the Christian Index, the GA Baptist newspaper. It seems that when the Christian Index ran an article extolling her virtues, some people took issue with her assets.

The picture above is the same as was printed in the Christian Index. Very tame. But not to Godslingers.

Ms. Barbara Blue of Pinetta, FL, thinks the picture was a disgrace. Worldly. Of the flesh. Satan inspired. Thank goodness for her church's Women Dressing Modestly Conference lest she have been tempted to strip in Walmart to cool off after searching for bargains:

Our church (Morningside Baptist Church in Valdosta) recently had a woman’s meeting on modesty. The ladies were reminded of the basics in dressing. A good guideline is not too short or not too revealing, or too tight and no cleavage. Miss Prejean fails in all areas by these standards. Are we not as Christians to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to the Lord?

Then there is Beth Robertson of Valdosta, GA, the home of high school football & not much else, evidently. Ms. Robertson thinks the picture is "provocative" and there is no excuse for a woman to ever show cleavage outside her home:

For heaven’s sake women, please understand that God made a man to respond to what he sees, so please cover your body up when you are going out in public!! We as women will answer to God for causing men to have thoughts they would have never had toward us if we would just have been dressed appropriately. The world says “showing skin is in” but God says it is a sin for a Christian woman to dress like the world.
Maybe Ms. Robertson & Ms. Blue would prefer Christian women dressed as Muslim ladies, complete with veils so no man can lust? Come to think of it, these two folks sound very similar to the Muslims who insist it is the woman's fault when a man lusts. Hmmm.

But I am also reminded of another Godslinger bunch: the Pharisees. They made all sorts of rules that sounded sooooo pious, complete with Scriptural references to hinge their rules of outward compliance.

Odd. Muslims. Pharisees. Christians. All with the same attitude to make rules. Or is just human nature to be Godslingers?

Ever heard of the Bruised & Bleeding Pharisees?

The Blind (or Bruised and Bleeding) Pharisee: This type of Pharisee was typified by the idea of him walking with his head down or turned away to avoid looking at, or bumping into women (who might be on their menstrual cycle) or other unclean folks. So, because they weren't looking where they were going, they would end up bruised or bleeding from their avoidance of small things (cleanliness laws) - all the while forgetting the more important laws. Jesus refers to some Pharisees as ‘blind guides’, possibly referring to this type of Pharisee.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give
a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel
. (Matthew 23:23-24)

Make sure she covers up because that is sinful but let's not talk about treating other Americans fairly when their view of sin is different than ours. Make sure the sin is in the legal code but justice is thrown out the window.


David Barton: Fox Guarding the Hen House

I see where David Barton has been named to the TX State Board of Education. Golly. Has TX had a complete brain cramp? Isn't that like naming Hannibal Lecter to the Social Committee?

David Barton is not only not an historian --- he has no training whatsoever in the field --- he has never seen a fact he hasn't spun or just made up. Barton is the single most irresponsible person in the Extremist Religious Right to just flat out lie about our nation's history.

Unfortunately, nearly all of the Extremist Religious Right notions about our nation's history has come from --- you guessed it --- David Barton.

Barton has a habit of trying to make our Founding Fathers out to be Conservative & Evangelical, & loves to present our Constitution as a uniquely Christian document. The problem, of course, is that no one can point out a single concept in the Constitution that is uniquely Christian or even of faith.

This is the guy that has gone so far as to get Randy Forbes to present resolutions in Congress to get Christianity recognized as the de facto Faith of the Nation. Chris Rodda has a couple of good
articles on HR 888 from 2008 & HR 397 introduced in 2009, both of which show Barton's shoddy research & poor interpretation of history. And, unfortunately, his falsehoods, something that makes Extremist Religious Right folks to be laughed at by educated folks.

Make no mistake about it: David Barton will say anything in an attempt to spin history to bring about a theocracy in America. And he has said just about everything to make people believe it too, including distortions, misrepresentations, & flat out falsehoods.

Putting this guy in charge of anything remotely associated with Social Studies curriculum in TX is about the most bone headed thing I've heard in a long, long time.

Gay Penguins Hatched Rejected Egg

I'm sure someone will claim this is just a fluke of nature, but we all know it isn't. The fact is that homosexuality is a natural occurrence in society --- even in animals.

News article.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wiley Drake Prays for People to Die, Including Obama

What is it with kooky people & the ministry?

Wiley Drake is at it again. Remember this is the guy that prayed imprecatory prayers for Barry Lynn when Americans United asked the IRS to investigate his political wranglings. (Click
here for that link.)

"I don't believe in the separation of church and state," the California preacher blustered, "'and I believe the IRS should stay out of church business."

The guy really has a way with words, doesn't he? Does anyone else see how silly his statement is?

Well, it seems Drake has now gone a step beyond that.

George Tiller was an abortion doctor murdered while in church. Drake, it seems, had been praying for Tiller's death for quite a while & was quite proud that Tiller was murdered.

Now, Drake says he is praying that President Obama will die.

OK. I'm Southern Baptist. I'm not always proud of it but it is what it is. Drake, however, needs to be muzzled. He is an embarrassment to not only the SBC but to our faith, our cause, our purpose & our Hope.

People like Drake --- in fact, all theocrats --- give us a bad name.

I hope his church in CA have the good sense to send this guy into retirement. He has really lost it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Island Where People Live Longer: Icaria

The Island Where People Live Longer : NPR

A Greek island in the Aegean Sea. The island of Icaria. Modest. Not much to write home about. Except it is one of those rare places on earth where people just live longer than everyone everywhere else.

Why? Well, it seems they do things the European way in the extreme, the exact opposite of what most Americans do.

I've been to Europe several times & I am struck each time by the unimaginable idea that someone else actually does something better than the way do it in America. I'm not joking. That realization was quite a shock to me at first.

For example, & the article noted, that the people on the island walk. A lot. Everywhere. It's not that Americans don't kill themselves for that 30 minutes of cardio workout 3-5 times a week. We do. We have entire businesses built around exercise, something the Europeans do as part of every day, normal existence. Nothing extraordinary. Nothing expensive. They walk.

Of course, they walk because they live near their work, whereas Americans have this idea that everyone needs to be an English Lord & live 20 miles away from the their employment, schools, community, everything. So not only does the typical American drive everywhere instead of walking, we then pay for that privilege in our miniature apartments on wheels that cost a fortune to operate, insure, & purchase, not to mention destroy the public roads much more so than the Europeans with their smaller cars. And don't give me that We need the bigger room for our large family. Bull. Europeans have large families & large framed people too.

And for those excursions that take more than a walk, bicycles or scooters or public transportation is available & utilized. Ask the 100 Americans to take a 20 minute bicycle ride to work & you would be arrested for treason. Ride a scooter? Yeah. Some towns have parking posts all over town for bikes & scooters, but have ordinances that make it illegal to use them --- the posts are just decoration --- not naming any names, mind you (Dallas, GA).

Compare meals. While Europe eats healthy meals & enjoy them, we're just a nation of three hundred million overweight, ill-informed, Wal-Mart shoppers who can't wait for our next Big Mac fix.

Perhaps what bothers me the most, is that most Americans don't even realize how far behind the rest of the world we are in matters regarding transportation, conservation & land use. Maybe the rest of the world will just out live us.

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