Look on the Bright Side

Chad Farnan, a high school student, successfully sued his European history teacher, James Corbett, for disparaging Chad’s religious beliefs.

In all fairness, he had a point. Mr. Corbett, was probably a little too free with his opinions given his position of authority in a public institution like a high school.

What was very interesting was the number statements about religion that the court failed to find afoul of the First Amendment. Statements like, “when you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth” and “conservatives don’t want women to avoid pregnancies — that’s interfering with God’s work”.

It took calling creationism, “superstitious nonsense” to cross the line. Now, I personally feel that stating a fact like that should be legal anytime and anywhere. It is unfortunate that the courts were unwilling to defend free speech in the one instance where the teacher was on VERY solid ground.

So, what is the bright side in this?

By saying that Mr. Corbett was “displaying hostility” towards religion with that statement, the court clearly equated Creationism with religion. That is useful precedent when they try to preach it in the science classroom.

“Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.”
— Bernard Baruch (American financier, stock-market speculator, statesman) via
The Skeptics Guide to the Universe

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If I lived among the Cherokee…

Angie Gambill, editor of The Tomahawk paper in Mountain City, Tennessee, is offended by people taking offense at the prominent display of religious doctrine in her local courthouse.*

“A complaint has been lodged by Washington-based Americans for Separation for Church and State on behalf of a county resident in opposition to the 10 Commandments display at the courthouse,” said [County Mayor] Grayson at last week’s Johnson County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The foundation of the complaint is Thomas Jefferson’s ideal of a wall of separation between church and state.  An ideal that has been upheld repeatedly by the United States Supreme Court.

This carries little weight in Ms. Gambill’s world.  A world where it makes more sense to separate people:

“If I decided to live among the Cherokee, I would expect to see symbols of their culture, religion and history everywhere.”

“I would never question the right of an African American community to display reminders of their heritage and uniqueness as a people.”

Well, Ms. Gambill, you do not have the luxury of excluding African American’s or Cherokee from your society. Because, it is not yours.  It is theirs.  It is theirs and ours, and there is even room in it for you.  All that is required is you follow the laws that have evolved over many societies, many years and many battles.  These laws exist expressly to allow us to live together in one community.

That is what you don’t understand.  While you are doggedly fighting for the primacy of your faith against all others in what you suppose is your little corner of the globe, you ignorantly dismiss the history of this country.  That is why you are being opposed by an organization called Americans UNITED for the Separation of Church and State.

In her crowning rhetorical achievement, Ms. Gambill looks to the children to lead:

In last week’s Tomahawk, little Sam Allen spoke volumes in his honest and obviously heartfelt letter. “We all need to read and know Jesus’ ten commandments because Jesus didn’t make them for nothing.” I can’t pretend to improve on those words of simple childlike faith and wisdom.

Really Angie?  You can’t improve on ignorance?  I feel sorry for little Sam Allen.  To have grow up in a community which cares so little for you that they cannot even correct your mistakes.  Worse, they celebrate them as wise.

“Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt”, Clarence Darrow.

* Link found through Pharyngula, PZ Myers exceptional blog.

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Taxpayers fund faith over knowledge at Colorado school

Colorado Christian University, a college that puts their faith ahead of knowledge (seriously, it’s right on the front page of their website), has just had a courtroom victory to receive state scholarship money.

As an American I can only say I’m appalled. There are many universities in the United States that were founded by religious institutions who receive state and federal money. Serious institutions of higher learning and knowledge. Conversely, CCU is a Christian indoctrination center where students must sign a promise to emulate the life of Jesus and biblical teachings and faculty must sign a statement that the bible is the “infallible word of god”.

They must have amazing programs in biology, geology and astrophysics. I can imagine the excitement looking through the course catalog and finding out that I could get a degree in one of those subjects with a single 30 minute course.

I don’t understand how the state of Colorado can use taxpayer dollars to support students attending a blatantly discriminatory institution.  Faculty must sign a “Statement of Faith” that includes:

“We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.”

In the school’s “Strategic Objectives” the following two objectives are listed first,  “Honor Christ and share the love of Christ on campus and around the world” and “Teach students to trust the Bible, live holy lives and be evangelists”.  The most telling bit, however, is the objective listed last, “Become a great university”.
So, there is the obvious discouragement of a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or non-theist working or attending this institution.  It still begs the question, “Who would want to attend this dogma over knowledge day camp?”

I don’t argue their right to exist, only that their evangelical mission should be assisted through taxpayer dollars.   Let them pay for their proselytizing themselves.

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