It’s not surprising McDonald would take that line. Across the country, Catholic schools are being shuttered as more and more parents realize that the public schools are doing a good job and that the money they’re spending on Catholic school tuition might be better socked away in a college fund.
Church officials are essentially seeking a taxpayer-funded bailout for their flagging school system – a system that even many church members have decided they don’t want to patronize. One wonders if McDonald has ever heard of the law of supply and demand?
The issue of accountability is also interesting. My guess is that, given the religious make-up of Tennessee, many of the schools taking part in a voucher plan will be aligned with fundamentalist Christianity. What type of science will these schools teach? What type of history? How will the students who attend them perform on standardized tests? Will they be able to get into colleges?
But the elephant in the room is Islamic schools. Will the state fund those as well with its vouchers?
Beth Harwell, speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, was asked about this recently by the Marshall Tribune. One gets the impression that Harwell was a bit uncomfortable answering the question.
‘I think it would be a constitutional issue,’ Harwell said. She added, ‘It is one that we would have to weigh very carefully as a legislature.’
Still fumbling, Harwell then said, ‘I think that, in itself, causes real alarm in the halls of the legislature. Having said that, I think we will seriously look at vouchers…. All those concerns are valid ones, legitimate ones. There is no easy answer.’
Alarm bells? Do you think? This is the state, after all, where residents actually went to court to try to stop a mosque from opening in Murfreesboro.
And don’t think this is a theoretical matter. Two Islamic schools in Washington, D.C., have received taxpayer funding under House Speaker John Boehner’s federally funded voucher program for the District of Columbia. Courts have been clear on this matter: Benefits that are extended to one religion must be made available to all.
Harwell says they is no ‘easy answer’ to problems like this. Sure there is: Don’t pass a voucher plan. Focus funding on public schools. If some of the public schools are experiencing problems, give them the support and resources they need to improve.
I commented long ago in The Spine about the courtship between fundamentalist Christianity and Israel.
One of the early signs that it was meshing was the meeting between [Israeli Prime Minister Menahem] Begin and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bailey Smith, who had said that God doesn’t hear the prayers of a Jew. That’s a big theological rift already. But Begin tried to finesse the history. When questioned, he said, “Look, about religious truth, we’ll wait and see. When the Messiah comes, we’ll ask him, ‘Is this your first visit or your second?’ He’ll surely be honest with us.”
Protestantism and both spiritual and temporal Zionism have long been intertwined. In America, it began with the Plymouth Brethren before the settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (do you recall the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, a 20th century Scottish evocation of the group?), and it has progressed basically for nearly four centuries from the Mathers, father and son, through Reinhold Niebuhr, who nonetheless worried for the Arabs of Palestine being left behind in history, a salient worry. (But don’t limit your worry to the Palestinians; the other Arabs have had a worse history and will have a worse future.) On the topic of the Jewish restoration, you can read Michael Oren’s masterful Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present for a gripping and textured history. Also, for Britain, Gertrude Himmelfarb’s The People of the Book: Philosemitism in England from Cromwell to Churchill. And, if you can’t get enough of this topic, see also Michael Polowetzky, Jerusalem Recovered: Victorian Intellectuals and the Birth of Modern Zionism. Still, maybe enough is enough: OK, if it is, forget about the books and just read below.
The truth is that even historians of American Christianity have mostly omitted the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from their texts, except that one of the first and most distinguished psychobiographers, Fawn Brodie, did a book (which I read long ago) on Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, and wrote other volumes on Sir Richard Burton (no, not the actor, also a “sir”), Thomas Jefferson, and Richard Nixon (!). The unbelievably learned Harold Bloom, who writes about almost everything, wrote also on Smith. I was not lured or allured and nobody made me feel bad about missing it.
In any case, the Mormons are no ordinary Christian faith. And their faith is certainly different from all of the other Christian denominations, in the first place because their basic narrative occurs in America and not in the Land of Israel. But their American narrative is a narrative of a long wandering to a holy land. If you have ever seen what the Mormon elders and their flock saw in their trek — the journey over the mountains onto a desert plain where there is a sea of salt — you can imagine how vividly Utah must have felt first like Moab and then like Canaan. Please don’t ridicule this journey. After all, there were many not less preposterous voyages, like the 40 years in the Sinai and the baby Jesus’s journey into Egypt and Mohammed’s trip on his winged Horse Al-Buraq, right from where the world was founded and where Isaac was almost put to sacrifice all the way back to Mecca. And how about contemporary weirdities of American Christianity, like the president’s former church?
Given the strangeness of what one has to believe to be faithful even to the most mainstream creeds, it’s odd that so many people think Mormonism especially peculiar. So, yes, “we received the Torah at Sinai … Our whole imagined people / stood at Mount Sinai / and received the Torah. / The dead, the living, the unborn, / every soul among us answered: / we will obey and hear.” Or so wrote the Yiddish poet Jacob Glatstein. And what about the magnificat in its various versions! Please don’t tell me that L.D.S. is more outlandish than other faiths. I’ve had many Mormon students over the years, more traditional in some ways: in their politesse, in their personal honesty, in their discipline with work, in their commitment to doing good. It was no surprise to me that the only sane candidates for the Republican nomination were Jon Huntsman and the front-runner, Mitt Romney, both Mormons.
And what is more American than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?
Now that Indiana Creationists in the State Senate have figured out that their bill is visibly & immediately recognizable as unconstitutional they are considering patching the gap.
Senator Vi Simpson has proposed that creationism shouldn’t discriminate by forcing just one religious view to be taught in science classes, but rather that all should be taught. What most don’t know at this point is that the proposed change is a poison pill effort; Senator Simpson is not just trying to be inclusive with her creationism but is hoping that the zealots proposing creationism in science classrooms might falter. However the theocrat GOP legislator who is proposing the bill is gritting his teeth and appears to be accepting it. I’ll keep following and let you know more as I find it out.
The attitude of the Indiana Senate seems to be: if at first you can’t make a bill constitutional, try, try again.
Yesterday I wrote about SB 89, legislation advancing through the Indiana Senate that would “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science” in public school science classes.
Later in the day, the Senate made some changes to the measure thanks to amendments from Sen. Vi Simpson (D-Bloomington). The new language says any science courses offered at public schools must include theories on the origins of life on Earth from several religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Scientology.
Simpson said she didn’t think her changes would fix the constitutional issues with the bill, but the new language might keep some schools from favoring one religious perspective over others in science classes.
“It does make it clear that a school board can’t just say we’re only going to teach Christian creation theory but we also have to cover other multiple religions,” Simpson said, according to an Associated Press report.
Unfortunately, this legislation isn’t any better from a constitutional standpoint because no religion or religions of any kind should be taught in a science class.
The amended language does, however, make it clear that the legislators know “creation science” is fundamentalist Christianity masquerading as science. So now the Senate is trying to make the bill appear “fair,” but fairness is not the issue.
Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn), the longtime creationism advocate who authored the original version of the bill, said he backed the changes because it would give his proposal a better chance to pass.
More on Senator Simpson’s poison pill effort here:
Simpson said she didn’t think the change would resolve constitutional problems, but she believed broadening the subject matter might cause local school boards to hesitate before deciding to insert religion into science classes.
“It does make it clear that a school board can’t just say we’re only going to teach Christian creation theory but we also have to cover other multiple religions,” Simpson said.
Regardless of final form it’s obvious to most that this will just create costly court battles for the taxpayers of Indiana, and wind up eventually struck down by the courts, since it’s unconstitutional to teach religion in science class. (Kitzmiller)
King of AIDS denialism, Peter Duesberg, PhD is a guest on Bryan Fischer’s Show on People For the American Way. I decided to use Dr. Ludwig Von Drake to stand in for Duesberg… it needed a little light hearted comedy and the accent fit (as did some of the lip synch… creepy). I’m sorry if I ruined any pleasant childhood memories.
According to both of them, AIDS is caused by NOT being a fundamentalist Christian. It’s caused by sin and debauchery. Only bad people get AIDS, and AIDS only affects the bad people. I just can’t facepalm any harder… it’s a perfect storm of stupidity. Duesberg had previously used slightly racist terms for Africans, it makes me wonder how much of his denialism is motivated by bigotry.
Duesberg has hit rock bottom. Fischer has outed himself as an AIDS denialist.
Here’s my video on Duesberg, if you want to know how a PhD virologist at UC Berkeley became the leader of the HIV/AIDS denialist movement:
Thanks to RightWingWatch for linking to the originals:
Here’s Bryan Fischer on his AIDS denialism: