Disco. vocalist Rob Crowther wonders What Part of “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine” do his opponents not understand? Writing about SB 733, a creationist bill winging its way to Governor Bobby “The Exorcist II” Jindal, Crowther points out that:

Section 1D of the bill clearly states that it “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.”

Why is it, then, that “a slew of articles have been running in which activists like Barbara Forrest make the false claim that [SB 733] opens the door to religion in the classroom”?

In a press release issued last night, Forrest commented that “It allows local school boards to open the doors of public school science classrooms to creationism with the blessing of the state,” and in a press release after the state House of Representatives passed the bill, Forrest said, “Despite their denials, even the bill’s backers know that SB 733 is a creationist bill written in creationist code language.”

In other words, Forrest is talking about a specific sort of religion, creationism. The usual ID dodge is to insist that their form of creationism is not actually religion. For instance, in the defendants response to the suit filed by parents and teachers in Dover, PA, the Disco.-coached ID advocates on the Dover school board insistently “den[ied] that intelligent design is an ‘inherently religious’ concept if that phrase is taken to mean a concept that is only known or accepted as a result of religious faith as opposed to reason and science.” Later, the filing defends a statement by former school board member Bill Buckingham that “nowhere in the Constitution does it call for a separation of church and state,” which the lawyers parse as Buckingham’s “observation that teachers would not be teaching religion in Dover School District [] in the event the Board, after due deliberation, decided to modify the biology curriculum for the purpose of ensuring that students were made aware of the controversy in the scientific community concerning various aspects of evolutionary theory.” (Quotes are from the defense’s Answer to Complaint, filed January 3, 2005.)

This is, of course, exactly what teachers in Louisiana would claim.

The result in Dover was a million dollar bill to the school district, and a scathing rebuke from the Judge. Judge Jones referred to Buckingham’s statement about separation of church and state as one of “several outwardly religious statements” made at that Board meeting, and concluded his landmark ruling by stating that:

To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Art. I, ß 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID.

The same thing will happen in Louisiana, and all the figleaf of section 1D will do is encourage teachers or school boards (as in Dover) to make expensive mistakes. In passing this bill, the legislature opened the door to big trouble. Jindal can still protect the students of Louisiana from miseducation, and the school districts from costly and distracting lawsuits. Here’s hoping he’ll do the right thing.

Comments

  1. #1 megan
    June 17, 2008

    The Designers could be the folks from the new Indiana Jones movie. They’re not ‘from Space’, they ‘travel between spaces’ so its not crazy talk like aliens. And look at how they taught the Incans to speak Mayan and build pyramids. Who knows what else those crystal skulls could do.

    Man, I reek of sarcasm late at night.

  2. #2 mark
    June 18, 2008

    I wonder if “the sword and shield of people of faith” (aka the Thomas More Law Center) will take up the Crusade in Louisiana, having proved itself in Dover.

  3. #3 Mary
    June 18, 2008

    I remember saying the Lord’s Prayer in school. at the time I had not ever met anyone who did not share my Christian upbringing. Perhaps such a practice does offend but wouldn’t it be a good idea if religion was studied in schools as a way to help us see the similarities instead of differences between the cultures and people of this tiny planet? What we really need to do is keep the psychiatrists out of schools and their drugs away from our kids. If one were to look – I bet there is a close correlation between their entry into schools and the decline in education in the country. There is something of a nature that is not explainable in terms of mechanical bodies and chemical reactions as we are led to see ourselves nowadays. Perhaps an appreciation for faiths of different sorts – as bizarre and wonderful as the range of beliefs can be is just what this country needs to promote understanding.

  4. #4 Modusoperandi
    June 19, 2008

    Mary “I remember saying the Lord’s Prayer in school. at the time I had not ever met anyone who did not share my Christian upbringing.”
    Americas melting pot has more ingredients than it used to. It’s not just Protestants of various denominations and a smattering of Catholics, anymore. You can pray in school all you want, by the way. What public schools (and teachers) can’t do is mandate prayer, Bible readings and the like. School is for education, not religious reinforcement.

    “Perhaps such a practice does offend but wouldn’t it be a good idea if religion was studied in schools as a way to help us see the similarities instead of differences between the cultures and people of this tiny planet?”
    In a comparative religion class, sure. To flesh out history courses, okay. Science class? No way.

    “What we really need to do is keep the psychiatrists out of schools and their drugs away from our kids.”
    Agreed, at least in part. This generation of children is easily the most medicated one ever. Lots of the drugs, too, have had comparatively little testing (“This works in adults…let’s try it in kids”, helped in no small part by the patent extensions that are granted if the drug is repurposed, if memory serves).
    Less sugar, proper diet, more outdoors play, more exercise is the way to go for most, IMO. Unfortunately, people never listen to me. From their mumbled comments I gather that their apprehension is based on my chronic nudity.

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