This must be some kind of race

Texas has McLeroy driving pro-science people out of the Texas Education Agency, so Florida must be feeling left behind: a member of their state board of education has recently declared her opposition to evolution in the schools.

State Board of Education member Donna Callaway says she'll be voting against the proposed new state science standards because evolution "should not be taught to the exclusion of other theories of origin of life" and says she hopes "there will be times of prayer throughout Christian homes and churches directed toward this issue."

"As a SBOE member, I want those prayers," Callaway said, according to a Nov. 30 column in the Florida Baptist Witness, a weekly newspaper based in Jacksonville that is an official organ of the Florida Baptist Convention. "I want God to be part of this. Isn't that ironic?"

Florida Citizens for Science has been on top of this for some time. It's completely incomprehensible to me: the court precedent is very clear that you don't get to insert your sectarian religious beliefs into the public schools, yet these bizarre creationist uprisings always begin with some clueless, bleating official on a school board babbling about bringing back prayer and god and appealing for Christian support. I thought for a while we might have to seriously worry about a new DI strategy of more effectively divorcing themselves from religion, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards: they are whining about religious persecution in the Gonzalez tiff, and we can reliably trust their followers to bring out the sacred, holy knife of their blessed lord Jesus and publicly slit their own throats with it, guaranteeing that the case will never be seen as a secular issue.

So now I'm wondering which state is going to have the dubious privilege of hosting the next spectacular time-waster of court case. Texas is looking good, and that would be a nice place to drive a stake into the creationist movement, but Florida is coming on strong. There are also tales of a few smoldering possibilities in Louisiana. Or perhaps some dark horse crazy will come galloping out of one of the northern states and surprise us. We should start a pool.

More like this

Donna Callaway, a member of the Florida Board of Education, has an editorial that has to be read to be believed. This is a woman who has drunk deep of the Kool-Aid. First, she's babbles about how surprised she was that the revision of the science standards included major elements, such as evolution…
This from the National Center for Science Education: As Florida continues to consider the draft of a new set of state science standards, there are reports about mounting creationist lobbying against the inclusion of evolution and for the inclusion of creationism. Writing in the Miami Herald (…
Apropos the fight over excellent science education (as opposed to creationism) in Florida schools, is it OK for a church, which I presume has religious non profit status, to engage actively in an attempt to sway elected officials? Regarding the State Board of Education meetings to discuss this…
The Center for Inquiry in Austin hosted a meeting that asked the question, Will Texas Support 21st Century Science Education? The good news is that the place was packed, and there are a lot of rational, intelligent people in Texas who are fed up with the lunatics running the show and are motivated…

I want God to be part of this. Isn't that ironic?

Not yet. It will be when her efforts to inject God into the school system get him banished from the cirriculum forever, though.

This lady should not be allowed to vote on anything other than which colour her toenails should be painted.

"evolution...should not be taught to the exclusion of other theories of origin of life"

That sentence, drenched in ignorance, should be enough to disqualify her from voting. I've never seen anything so stupid.

With the possible exception of this: "I want God to be part of this. Isn't that ironic?"

Well,if Texas is the next big battleground, at least I can get involved in it.

By Curt Cameron (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

State Board of Education member Donna Callaway says she'll be voting against the proposed new state science standards because evolution "should not be taught to the exclusion of other theories of origin of life"

These IDiots will never understand evolution if they can't even understand that evolution is not about the origin of life.

Her understanding of irony is about as good as her understanding of evolution.

By T. Bruce McNeely (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

The Dover case does indeed set a clear precedent, but the decision is not binding outside of the Middle District of Pennsylvania. This will only become binding nationwide if the Supreme Court of the US rules on this.

By Bureaucratus Minimis (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

The problem here is that we're not fighting simple ignorance. That would be easy enough to remedy. No, it's that we're fighting a well-funded, organized, and prevalent disinformation campaign. Creationists like Callaway aren't uninformed, they're misinformed. That's much tougher to undo. And the entire blame lies squarely at the feet of the religious. They've allowed this anti-intellectual, anti-science smear campaign to grow and flourish for decades. They've given time on their radio and television stations and space in their newspapers and websites to these immoral charlatans. It's now gotten to the point that the damage is most likely irreversible. Damnable bastards, the lot of them.

By H. Humbert (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

And, as per usual, when their prayers to get religion injected into science curriculum fail once again, they wouldn't even think that just maybe that's a sign that this prayer shit doesn't work.

What's most frustrating, though, is that it's the people espousing a "theory" based entirely on faith, emotions, and dogma who are accusing the people espousing a theory based on evidence and logic of being "closed minded". The way political and religious ideologues distort terms and phrases into meaning the exact opposite of how they're defined is one of the more deceitful political tactics out there--not accepting beliefs on dogma and faith becomes "closed minded", encouraging rational and critical thought becomes "militant", opposing attempts to impose religion on others becomes a violation of "religious freedom" etc etc. It would be actually ironic if they started referring to biologists supporting evolution as "Orwellian".

The Dover case does indeed set a clear precedent, but the decision is not binding outside of the Middle District of Pennsylvania. This will only become binding nationwide if the Supreme Court of the US rules on this.

Yet, the legal reasoning and principles laid down will be quite influential in any legal proceedings in the US. Any pro-science lawyer would be quite foolish not to refer to it; any creationist would be foolish NOT to develop a defense for it (though I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to ignore it anyway).

Shrug. If some fools want to transfer school district money to plaintiffs who don't like their openly religious agenda, what's not to like? Seriously, we all know the outcome here, there, and everywhere will be another Dover. The fact that some school board members may have to pee on the electric fence themselves to learn is hardly surprising to anyone here, is it?

By David Wilford (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

Because of their influence on the textbook industry, a thorough slapdown of Texas should be our top priority. But that doesn't mean we should let the others off. If the Florida school districts are so flush with money that they can afford to spend millions defending Creationism, by all means let them. Sooner or later the voters will realize that these people are walking lawsuits and stop electing them.

The trouble is that you can't rely on the Lyers For Christ to follow through on anything. Weren't they supposed to all move to a southern state and take over? That would be great, and all the nut-cases could move there and be dumb for christ on their own dime.

Focussing on a mythological Heaven, instead of reality will do that to you everytime, right DI?

Have I mentioned yet how much I hate Florida?

A question on pushback. Admittedly from an adjunct sociology teacher, so myself in a position of complete powerlessness and irrelevance.

How many faculty, particularly in the sciences, would be willing to start organizing on their campuses to have their universities reject any science credits if states were to make such changes, or if schools' biology curricula do not include evolution? At universities that have some form of faculty governance, this will obviously be more important, but it would seem that this is a form of action that ought be considered.

TX wants to go creationist? Their students don't get into college because they don't have the requisite education.

In the Florida Baptist online editorial by James Smith Sr.Witnesshttp://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/8144.articleas one would expect quoted me incorrectly.
Smith also implied that I was aware "there is indeed great controversy in the scientific academy over the tenets of natural selection, even if a large majority of scientists continue to hold to Darwinian evolution."
So the fact that evolution is supported by a 150 years of
empirical, reproducible, predictable evidence accounts for
little, while the advocates of ID behave more like
a political pressure group affirming their religious ideologies over valid hypotheses.
I would remind Donna Callaway that walking the path of disingenuousness is fraught with disastrous consequences particularly when you have an obligation to provide a valid education for our school children. If she really feels that her particular religious convictions belong in the science classroom have the intestinal fortitude to say so, out loud, rather than hiding behind the sham of ID.

By Jonathan Smith FCS (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

"I want God to be part of this. Isn't that ironic?"

In the Morrissettian way, I suppose.

Is it just me or are other people worried about this case being tried by a judge without a clear understanding of logic. I mean these are the same people who want to overturn Roe v Wade and want to build a really big fence along the boarder.

I just think its sad that students in Texas Florida and Louisiana will lose much needed budget money so their indoctrinated parents can fight against their own offspring's education.

By BMatthews (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

Argh! Why do so many of these screaming eedjits have to be female?! You just know that somewhere, Larry Summers is picking his teeth and smirking... *mutter grump fume*

By Interrobang, f… (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

The Dover case does indeed set a clear precedent, but the decision is not binding outside of the Middle District of Pennsylvania. This will only become binding nationwide if the Supreme Court of the US rules on this.

At this point, I'd be happy to settle for a Dover-like decision at a federal circuit court of appeals level because it would set a much larger area of authoritative legal binding. Such an appellate court decision would also likely carry great weight by federal judges within the remaining appellate court districts. Furthermore, it is a fact that SCOTUS only reviews a very small percentage of cases settled at the appellate court level, so a victory for the pro-academically honest science education advocates at this level would definitely be the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the room that could not be easily ignored.

Right now, I would only equate the Dover decision as a 600 pound gorilla. :)

Frankly, I would be worried as to what outcome could be expected from the current Roberts-led SCOTUS. Anyone who has ever read Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion in the 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard could clearly see that Scalia is perfectly capable of ignoring legal precedence and twist the law to fit his desired outcome. Since Justice Thomas is nothing more than a sock-puppet for Scalia; I fear that both of these justices would be lost causes who could never be persuaded to abandon their religious ideology. I have no doubt that Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Stevens would uphold legal precedence and the Establishment Clause and decide against any school board or state board of education seeking to implement a pro-ID curriculum. The big questions marks are Roberts, Alito, and especially Kennedy.

By Engr Tony (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

Interrobang, there's a perfectly reasonable explanation: fundy women are encouraged to be idiots. I mean, how could they please their husbands (For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything) if they're all thinkin' and askin' questions and such?

All joking aside, it's a vile concept.

"Why do so many of these screaming eedjits have to be female?! You just know that somewhere, Larry Summers is picking his teeth and smirking... *mutter grump fume*"

Oy. I am right there with you on this one. There does seem to be a preponderance of female school board members that have a worrying lack of cooperative brain cells.

Or at least the female ones get the press coverage.

By BettyBoondoggle (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

I thought for a while we might have to seriously worry about a new DI strategy of more effectively divorcing themselves from religion, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards: they are whining about religious persecution in the Gonzalez tiff, and we can reliably trust their followers to bring out the sacred, holy knife of their blessed lord Jesus and publicly slit their own throats with it, guaranteeing that the case will never be seen as a secular issue.

Maybe I'm just succumbing to Seasonal Affective Disorder (now that sunset occurs at roughly 4:30 pm in my neck of the woods), but I see a darker possibility: Suppose they've dropped the pretense of secularity because they no longer feel like they need it? You recently linked to a poll re how many Americans profess some level of religious belief versus how many (or should I say, how few) accept evolution, and the numbers were pretty dismal. What if the creos figure they're actually winning this particular battle of the culture wars, and no longer need the camouflage?

What if they're right? Imagine if you will a future in which the Repubs nominate Mike Huckabee and then the Dem candidate steps on his (or her) crank in some way and blows the election. What do you suppose the courts will look like by the end of a Huckabee first term? Would the establishment clause still be working for our side?

When we're all together here laughing about how stupid the other side looks, it feels inevitable that reason will eventually win out... but sometimes I wonder if we aren't just kidding ourselves.

By Bill Dauphin (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

Political Rant Alert:
We all need to remember that this Florida/Texas debaucle is the Bush legacy. W's successor, Gov. Rick "The Prick" Perry, and brother Jeb "Chads" Bush have appointed IDists to key positions in their respective state's government so that even evangelical wingnut Donna Callaway's naive rhetoric will not summarily be dismissed as irrelevant and/or a breach of the separation of Church and State issue.
Spurred on by the decreasing size and number of gaps for God to hide, the Evangelicals have a grass roots agenda set well into motion to promote ID as science at all costs (cause Jeebus told 'em to do it) and Jeb, W and Rick were more than willing to spread open those gaps; to keep a "wide stance" on the issue, as it were; God vs. The Natural World.

Because of their influence on the textbook industry, a thorough slapdown of Texas should be our top priority.

Speaking as a True Blue Texan, I second that motion. It's about time someone bitch-slapped the jackasses on the SBOE back to reality. For those who are unaware of how one gets elected to the SBOE, it's not the usual democratic process common to most states. In Texas, your first step is to kiss some Linebarger ass - the Linebargers are some very rich fundy nutjobs who bankroll other fundy nutjobs for SBOE positions. If you pass their litmus test, the Linebargers will buy you some airtime, pay for the smear campaign against your reality-based opponent, and reimburse others for their generous donations to your campaign. In short, they'll buy you a seat on the SBOE.

The whole system ensures that the curriculum avoids rigorous treatment of topics that are "troublesome" for the fundy crowd, like evolution or birth control. It promotes ignorance, fear, and intolerance. Anything that would drain the Linebargers' bank accounts and end their stranglehold on the SBOE would be a good thing for Texas.

By Rational Jen (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

TX wants to go creationist? Their students don't get into college because they don't have the requisite education.

Or, at a minimum, their acceptance is conditional on a remedial biology class. And I mean that for any major: At least a minimal amount of scientific literacy is a basic requirement for any claim to being "college educated."

PS: Despite being raised in Texas, I was born in Florida, and then lived there for more than a decade as an adult. I'm beginning to feel a bit guilty about this sh!t.

By Bill Dauphin (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

"I want God to be part of this. Isn't that ironic?"

It's interesting to try to unpack this and figure out why she thinks it's "ironic" to want to inject God into public school science classes.

The thinking seems to go like this:

Everybody knows that God exists. Everybody knows that God made everything. Everybody knows that the only real God is the Christian one. And everybody knows that the theory of evolution means there is no God. It ought to be obvious that divine creation should be included in science class, since everybody knows that's what really happened. So is that what we have? No, it's not. You actually have to "inject" God into the science class by making a special effort. That's "an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected" -- in other words, that's just so ironic!

You know what is really ironic? If the creationists get their way, and convince the next generations of the general public that yes, indeed, evolution means Christianity is false, then -- when science continues to advance and the theory of evolution is still being used 50 years from now -- Christianity will be dead, dead, dead. They will have publicly, historically, and irrevocably slit their own throats with "the sacred, holy knife of their blessed lord Jesus."

Way to go, guys.

By Sastra, OM (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

Or, at a minimum, their acceptance is conditional on a remedial biology class. And I mean that for any major: At least a minimal amount of scientific literacy is a basic requirement for any claim to being "college educated."

Agreed.

What's are the rumors about Louisiana?

The same sort of deep-down stupid that results in creationists on the Florida state board of education has also resulted in the government, including the schools, now being flat broke because of bad investments. It turns out billions of dollars in Florida's operating budget was tied to subprime mortgages and nobody was keeping track. Oops. Perhaps they also believe in divinely-ordained economics and thought Jehovah would protect them from the realities of a market economy, too.

I can't say much about Texas; I've only ever spent a couple of weeks living there. Florida, however, seems to be filled to the brim with ignorant, superstitious, uneducated people in a tide of such proportion that it threatens to completely submerge the minority that is otherwise. I was consistently amazed at what a stupid place most of Florida is during the time I was living there. With all due apologies and sympathies to those who from Florida who don't fit this image, Florida really is the most backward place I have ever lived in America.

Can't we just saw the damned thing off and set it adrift somehow? I'm sure we could all agree to live without Mickey Mouse and orange juice in exchange for simply getting rid of that damnable growth on America's bottom.

I want God to be part of this. Isn't that ironic?

Yep. Just like rain on your wedding day. It's hardly ironic given that her stated intent is to force God into the public education process. None of this is new.
Thankfully there are reasonable citizens ready and able to fight for their children's right to a good education. In fact, the thing I try to keep in mind is that there always seems to be a group of fair-minded citizens ready to fight this nonsense when it rears its ugly head.

By Scooty Puff Jr. (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

of the general public that yes, indeed, evolution means Christianity is false, then

The cold hard truth is that it makes it very implausible without doing harm to the story and making necessary lots and lots of rationalizations.

In this regard they may be correct.

Can we please just mock the fuck out of these people and the state's they come from???

Jebus, big states that practically decide our national elections and they're the fucking armpits of the country.

Stop the Stupid. Please.

Agree with John McKay (#11) on the huge strategic importance of winning with Texas. Also, a victory in TX would embolden "us" and demoralize "them."

Engr Tony (#21): Yes. Given what you said, it may be time to turn to state courts for this.

By Bureaucratus Minimis (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

Rey Fox wrote:"I want God to be part of this. Isn't that ironic?"

In the Morrissettian way, I suppose.

There's a word for that, you know: alanic.

By Curt Cameron (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

A) I think in a lot of ways, Judge Jones' decision is very much a response to Scalia's dissent in Edwards v. Aguillard .

B) I think we underestimate Thomas if we think of him as Scalia's lapdog; he's capable of horrendous decisions on his own, starting out from some perfectly reasonable starting points.

There does seem to be a preponderance of female school board members that have a worrying lack of cooperative brain cells.

Are there any stats on what the proportion of males to females is on school boards? It might be rather like teaching itself, where there are more females involved in the first place. So there would almost always seem to be more female creationists on them. Just like the US can have more nutters (of just about any flavour) than the UK, simply because it's a bigger place (and conversely can also be expected to do better in the Olympics etc etc because it's bigger).

Jim C #34:

I know. Isn't that cool?

We win either way --- BWAHAHAHA.

By Sastra, OM (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

if you anthropomorphize the US, texas is the asshole and florida is the penis. I guess that's why there's so much crap and disease coming from those states.

Kansas, hmmm I was going to say lint filled belly button, but I think the colon is appropriate.

I want God to be part of this. Isn't that ironic?

If God wants to be part of it, then God can go right ahead and be part of it. Ms. Callaway wants God to do what God isn't doing. Yeah... that's ironic alright.

By reindeer386sx (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

To me, what is ironic is that the creationists scream 'persecution' whenever they are confronted with opposition to the teaching, in public schools, of their archaic dogmatic views of the real world.
If they wish to teach pseudoscience to their congregations on sabbath days or during youth groups, so be it. And I shall forego picketing their establishments as they do so.
However, as the 'true' christians tout themselves as 'true' patriots, I would think they would want their children to be able to compete, intellectually, with the rest of the world. The United States is losing its ranking in education. Teaching Inane Drivel will not suffice.

By The Reverend (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

Do Texans have some sort of a pronounciation problem?

She can't even say "moronic" properly.

Ooops misread, she's Floridian.

Can't you keep them confined to one state at a time.

Do Texans have some sort of a pronounciation problem?

She can't even say "moronic" properly.

Um, how do you pronounce the penultimate word of your first sentence?

By truth machine (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

"more effectively divorcing themselves from religion"

"more effectively disguising their attachment to religion"

Fixed that for you, PZ.

By David vun Kannon (not verified) on 06 Dec 2007 #permalink