Listen, minions. I don’t have a damn clue how many people actually read this blog, except that it’s a number between eight and . . . well, 6 billion. I could probably narrow down the top end of that just a bit, but my point is that it’s hard to work up a sense of obligation to keep writing if I feel like I’m talking to myself.
I go without writing for 5 weeks and then hear from my roommate that some other person he knows who he showed it to is wondering if I’m ever going to post anything. Don’t ask him, ask me. I’m the one writing, and I do have things to write about (though I’ve been in a bit of a dry spell recently), I just need a little motivation. I have added the blog to Facebook, and there’s a little badge on the side of the blog that you can click on if you’re too lazy to actually do a Facebook search. If you like the blog, be a fan. It’s just for my ego, but humor me.
It starts out with an acknowledgment of the individual’s Constitutional right to free practice of religion. I do not have a problem with that right, provided everyone agrees that it includes a right not to practice religion. But apparently, “these rights are coming under increasing attack in the public school system,” which in turn requires “a method to recognize, promote, and enforce these rights.” you can see right away that this is a fair and balanced viewpoint. Let’s examine some specifics.
A public student has an inalienable right to:
(I) Express his or her religious beliefs on a public school campus or at a school-sponsored event to the same extent as he or she may express a personal secular viewpoint.
(II) Participate in a private religious ceremony held on a public school campus outside of instructional time to the same extent as he or she may participate in a private secular activity or ceremony outside of instructional time.
No problems here, though I don’t think schools should be directly paying for private religious ceremonies. If you want to pray on your own time and happen to be on a public school campus, fine. Numbers (III) through (V) say you can exchange religious greeting cards, sing religious songs, and use religious greetings, which are also fine in my book. I can’t imagine that anyone will ever be singing Islamic songs as “part of a school-sponsored or curriculum-related program,” but I don’t see the harm in singing. Unfortunately, these are going to cause problems for…well, ignorant bigots, mostly. If people across the country lost their shit and started hurling accusations of indoctrination over kids singing about Obama (with volatile lyrics like “he said that all must lend a hand to make this country strong again”), you can imagine they won’t be especially chuffed about Arabic chanting in school plays.
(VI) Wear religious garb on a public school campus, including but not limited to clothing with a religious message.
Again, this is going to be a problem. Presumably this is intended to protect the poor Christians from being cruelly persecuted for wearing stupid shirts that spoof the Guitar Hero logo, replacing “Guitar” with “God is My,” which are everywhere and are both incredibly irritating and sickeningly uncreative. And a violation of federal copyright law.
The shirts are moronic, but the bill doesn’t specify “smarmy and insipid t-shirts,” it says “religious garb.” You can bet your ass that as soon as a Muslim girl shows up in a burqa, or a Sikh wears his turban to school, there will be problems. Hell, the military just recently allowed a Sikh, for the first time, not to shave his beard. Being cool with the turban is a big step up from that.
(VII) Express his or her religious beliefs or select religious materials when responding to a school assignment if his or her response reasonably meets the educational purpose of the assignment.
(VIII) Recite religious material when an oral recitation is assigned if the material fairly meets the educational purpose of the assignment.
Oh boy. Imagine an assignment in a biology class to explain how evolution led to the natural world we have today. Unless you can present a rational argument for intelligent design or creationism (you can’t), backed up by scientific evidence (there isn’t any) and grounded in demonstrable fact (it won’t be), this isn’t the place for religion. If you’re in an astronomy class and your response to how the Earth began is that God created it (Genesis 1:1), you deserve an F on that assignment. It’s wrong, and religious texts should not be given any weight as an academic resource. The implications for political arguments are even worse.
If you have further questions, I invite you to examine the Q’uran. Thank you.
Now we get to the teacher’s rights. These are actually quite interesting. Teachers in public schools have the inalienable right to:
(I) Teach a religious topic in public school for historical, literary, or other educational purposes, including but not limited to the religious origins of various holidays.
That word “other” is going to create some issues. A while ago there was a teacher in Ohio who taught, concerning possible genetic correlations to homosexuality, that “science is wrong, because the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin, so anyone who is gay chooses to be gay and is a sinner.” The emphasis there is mine. Now, this is not a scientific viewpoint, nor is it a rational one. In fact, any statement that says “science is wrong because the Bible says” is doomed from the start. That statement is a religious one. The Bible says ________ so it’s true. If religious teaching is allowed in all educational fields, then a statement such as the Ohio example would actually be protected by law, and that’s unacceptable.
(II) Display religious materials and items that directly relate to a topic being discussed in the classroom
This clause is saved only by the words that follow “that.” There may be some teachers that want to hang posters about creationism in an astronomy class, a move that will have to be checked by the administration, but for the most part this will keep Bible verse out of science and in literature, history, and philosophy where it belongs.
Numbers (III) through (V) say that teachers can exchange religious greeting cards, participate in religious activities outside school, and answer questions on a religious topic. That last one is great, since even if the teacher gives a religious answer, questioning and debate can never hurt this issue. Open communication always helps.
(VI) Not be required to teach a topic that violates his or her religious beliefs and not be disciplined for refusing to teach the topic
This is the big one. This means that a science teacher who believes in creationism or intelligent design not only has a legal right to teach ID in the classroom, which is already gross misinformation, but they cannot be fired for doing so. A teacher who spouts the utter horseshit that is ID will be firmly planted, unable to be ousted by the administration until he or she does something else to earn dismissal. That’s not OK. Anyone who brings astrology into an astronomy classroom is not qualified to teach astronomy, and should be fired.