Monday, July 6, 2009

Don't mess with Texas

From the Houston Chronicle:

Critics who engineered the recent ouster of State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, in part because of his strong religious beliefs, could end up with someone even more outspoken in her faith.

Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, who advocated more Christianity in the public square last year with the publication of her book, One Nation Under God, is among those that Gov. Rick Perry is considering to lead the State Board of Education, some of her colleagues say.

Critics are gasping and allies are cheering over speculation that Dunbar, a lawyer, could win a promotion to the leadership spot.

“It would certainly cause angst among the same members of the pagan left that rejected Don McLeroy because he was a man of faith,” said David Bradley, R-Beaumont, one of the seven socially conservative members on the 15-person board.

"The pagan left?" Let's read that again, shall we?
“It would certainly cause angst among the same members of the pagan left that rejected Don McLeroy because he was a man of faith,”
That's very Christ-like of you, David Bradley.* Yes, the problem with having the chairman of the State Board of Education advocate for the teaching of scientific fallacies, such as intelligent design, is his faith. Because nobody who opposes the teaching of specific religious dogma (masquerading as science) in public schools could possibly be anything but pagan.

I promised my mom I would swear less on this blog, but fuck you, David Bradley.* First of all, you're towing a fine constitutional line by trying to sneak creationism into public schools under the guise of science. This may come as a surprise to you, but America is not a "Christian Nation," Texas is not a "Christian State," and the Bible is not a science book. It is a lot of things to a lot of people, and there are certainly valuable lessons that can be learned in there, but the specifics of how the world was made and where human beings come from are not among them. And if you believe they are - if you believe that everything we know about science is misleading people and causing them to believe evil lies - then home-school your damn kids. Don't inflict your bullshit theories among the whole state of Texas.

The issue of what to teach in schools is a constitutional issue, not a Biblical one. Back in the days of the Bible, there was no science. There was only religion. As such, there is no Biblical guide for how to deal with scientific evidence that conflicts with the Scripture. The right will try to present science as some sort of pagan half-religion, which it unequivocally is not. It's just science, plain and simple. Science is as objective as it's possible for a field of human study to be. And furthermore, unlike religion, it provides no greater meaning to life. It only explains how things work, not why they do. Most religious people know this. We can see that science and religion are two very different things that are not (or should not be) in conflict. The right, however, isn't satisfied with evidence. They want every word in their precious Bible to be literally true. There is no Scriptural precedent on how to deal with that kind of fundamentalist, except to say that the religious purists are the ones who had Jesus murdered, and the fuck-ups were His pals.

What we do have, however, is Matthew 5:11-12, which says:
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Now I'm not saying that being pagan is inherently a bad thing. If you want to be pagan, be pagan. But it's a complicated word with a lot of different meanings to different people, and when a member of the Christian right uses it to describe the left (in this case, moderates are lumped in there as well), knowing full well that a majority of the left are Christian too, he is mocking the validity of their faith, which is certainly an insult. But in the New Testament, it is the insulted who are the righteous, and those doing the insulting who are the self-righteous. So I ask you, David Bradley*, WTF would Jesus do?

*you unbelievable asshole.


Ksagstetter said...

This is absolutely appalling, but unfortunately a common attitude in Texas. I taught in a private Episcopalian school in Houston where I was the youngest teacher by a decade and literally the only unmarried faculty member. All of the other teachers held advanced degrees. I had never seen a conflict between creationism and evolution and before I became a complete pagan (as David Bradley would call me) I was surprised in my teens to find that there was such a debate, because I'd never thought they were mutually exclusive. I was sitting in the lounge one day among all of these highly intelligent, over-educated people, and the AP biology teacher was complaining about how she had to teach evolution so that her students could pass the test because she didn't believe in all that malarkey, but she also taught creationism because that was "just the right thing to do and she didn't want to lead them astray." I sat there listening to all the other teachers agreeing with her and complaining about the AP testing board and kept my mouth shut. Now I'm terrified at what "science" classes in my (admittedly fucked up) home state will be. Evangelical Christians are all about making a personal choice to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, so I don't understand why they can't at least COMPROMISE. I don't think faith has any place in the classroom, but if it's about a denomination based on personal relationships with God, why can't the schoolboard at LEAST agree to teach both and let students make up their own minds? They don't give them any credit.

Marjorie said...

Does it frighten anyone else that someone who's on a state board of education doesn't even know what a pagan is?

Brett D said...

Just another day in the United States of JesusLand {insert eye roll here}. It never ceases to amaze me, how religious factions bent on securing a constitutional right to indoctrinate kids have it totally backward about science. As Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and other skeptical "pagans" so expertly and repeatedly point out: science, by its very nature, leaves itself open to refutation; religion does not. If they come up with a better theory than evolution, you can bet your life savings science will drop Darwin like they dropped geocentricity. But these superstitious oafs will STILL cling to their fairy tale no matter what.

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