Thursday, June 11, 2015

Religion and despair in the classroom

It is becoming harder and harder to miss the news getting out about a growing fraction of schools in America. It seems that in Louisiana, they're putting the Bible in the hands of kids in science class. Someone honestly believes that the book of Genesis is relevant in science class and that creationism (it's not a theory - not even close), should be taught alongside the Big Bang.

This is, of course, a violation of the First Amendment. But there is something more to it than that. It smacks of desperation. Under the veil of "criticism of evolution" state legislators hope to keep the Bible in classrooms to "debunk" Evolution and the Big Bang. This is all approved by Bobby Jindal, the right-wing governor with presidential aspirations. Jindal says, "What are we afraid?" Oh, I don't know. How about persecution?

In Idaho, Republicans want the bible in astronomy, biology and geology classes. Apparently, they too are afraid that kids will not get the "full spectrum" of materials and instruction so lavished upon the kids in the state of Louisiana. So far, it looks like 10% of high school teachers are promoting or advocating creationism in the classroom across America.

In every case where creationism is taught, the preferred text used to challenge scientific theory in the classroom is the Bible. No word yet on whether the Torah, Quran or the Tipitaka (the Buddhist holy text) will get honorable mentions. Given the fact that all the other religions are shut out, there appears to be a subtext of this agenda.

I can smell the fear in the words and actions of the so-called leaders who profess that American is a Christian Nation when not a single Founding Father has ever concurred. Most of the Founding Fathers were deists and Freemasons who believed that all men should practice religion according to their own conscience. They were building a country where you are free to believe or not. They knew well how explosive the mixture of religion and government can be.

What Christians are practicing today smacks of using the force of government to indoctrinate kids into Christianity. That kind of behavior suggests that they will not rest or find peace until everyone else believes as they do. As if the use of government force to bring their book, and only their book into the classroom, would bring about an era of peace and freedom.

I have tried to read the Bible myself and I must admit, even as a kid, I could not accept the sense I had of reading someone else's fairy tales and being asked to accept all of it as true. It was far and away, one of the most uncomfortable intellectual experiences I have had in my life. I simply cannot accept what the Bible says as a true account of the creation of our world. Yet, I respect those who do believe it and support their right to maintain and nurture that belief. I have a problem when they seek to force that belief system upon me or my kids.

Even in their own book, Jesus (if such a man really existed) said to follow him if you want to. He never expressed any desire to use force. He maintained that people must make a choice to follow him and nothing more. He never said anything about using government to expose kids to his teachings. I suggest that to do so would be to encourage an attitude I think we should call, Christian Supremacy.

Christian Supremacy says that there is no better religion than Christianity. All others must stop what they're doing and follow The Way of Jesus. The subtext of the message is this: "Please, follow us so that we will not be persecuted again as a minority". That's the desperation I observe in the politics of Christians who want to put their book in science class and teach it as fact.

Christians are certainly entitled to their believes, just as anyone else may choose to believe or not to believe. I say that the diversity and expression of human opinion is essential to human survival. I encourage everyone to speak up and consider the opinions of others not as fact, but as information we can use to survive as a species. It all adds up. Just be sure to back up what you say with evidence so that we all know what we're working with.

Given the mounting damage we've done to the earth, we're going to have to cooperate or perish. Indoctrinating kids into one religion or another probably won't help us to survive.
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