April 27, 2005

Separation of Church and State- Fuzzy Logic

I just finished reading an article about the Odessa, Texas schoolboard decision to introduce a bible class into the public school.

Barring any hurdles, the class should be added to the curriculum in fall 2006 and taught as a history or literature course. The school board still must develop a curriculum, which board member Floy Hinson said should be open for public review.

The board had heard a presentation in March from Mike Johnson, a representative of the Greensboro, N.C.-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, who said that coursework designed by that organization is not about proselytizing or preaching.

But People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties Union have criticized the council, saying its materials promote religion.

Johnson said students in the elective class would learn such things as the geography of the Middle East and the influence of the Bible on history and culture.

"How can students understand Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper' or Handel's 'Messiah' if they don't understand the reference from which they came?" Johnson said. The group's Web site says its curriculum has received backing in 292 school districts in 35 states.

Call me crazy, call me paranoid, but I have a hard time buying the story they are trying to sell here. If you go to the website of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools you can make your own determination about their objective. I didn't have to read much further than the biography of their president to become concerned. Look at this section:

Like most Americans, Ridenour believed teaching Bible in public schools violated separation of church and state – a common myth she would soon learn had beenpropagated by liberal organizations, such as the ACLU

The code word in that snippet is liberal where it is used as a pejorative term. But I took issue with her introductory message where she said:

The world is watching to see if we will be motivated to impact our culture, to deal with the moral crises in our society, and reclaim our families and children.

Please help us to restore our religious and civil liberties in this nation.

The underlying message here is not the instruction of the bible as a foundation for understanding art or history, but that it is a tool to teach morality and it is clear that this is nothing more than a sordid and sad attempt to circumvent past decisions to separate church and state.

No one has lost their religious or civil liberties here, that is a joke and con job.

Let me add that having an endorsement letter from Jesse Helms is not something that is going to thrill me, but I digress.

And even if I was interested in considering such an idea I would be far more excited if there was a real cross section of people supporting this, but there is not. It is a religious right initiative and something that they are entitled to try, but I would feel better if they were open and honest about what they are trying to do here.

There is simply no place for this in the public school system.

No comments: