Freshwater: October 29, 2009.

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On Thursday, October 29, the morning saw Tim Keib, former assistant principal and for a time interim principal of the middle school, continue his direct examination. R. Kelly Hamilton, John Freshwater’s attorney, introduced into evidence an affidavit Keib had signed and walked Keib through it. Keib is a graduate of Cedarville University, a very conservative Christian school in Ohio.

Keib testified that he was in Freshwater’s classroom for a number of 30+ minute observations for evaluation and perhaps 60 to 100 times for a few minutes over the years.

Over the years Keib did a number of evaluations of Freshwater, and testified that he never saw any problematic behavior in Freshwater’s classroom. Asked if he ever saw Freshwater teach creationism, Keib replied that there was “never any direct instruction pertaining to creationism that I heard.” Interesting locution there.

In a series of questions Hamilton pushed the case that Freshwater was using suspect materials in order to teach analysis and objective consideration of multiple hypotheses per the Academic Content Standards, using those materials to see whether students could use the scientific method.

Keib testified that he never saw Freshwater try to push his faith or proselytize students. He never heard Freshwater put down another person’s faith, though he voiced concerns about that to Keib privately. He testified that he never saw Freshwater teaching intelligent design.

Keib testified that he himself had a Bible on his desk while at the middle school, and knew of a “significant number” of teachers who also had Bibles on their desks. He named half a dozen. He said that Bibles mean one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. They’re used in poetry classes, as a reflective tool, in English classes, and in history classes.

He testified that he never saw Freshwater’s Bible open when students were around. He testified that he could tell the book was a Bible because he was familiar with it. Asked if in itself, sitting on a desk, the Bible denigrated or promoted a particular religion, Keib replied that “Some people might not be comfortable with it, but it’s not hurting anyone just sitting there.” Asked if the Bible on a desk constituted a “religious display,” Keib replied, “Just sitting there, no.”

Asked if it was appropriate to tell one teacher she could keep a Bible on her desk (apparently referring to Lori Miller) while instructing another to remove his Bible, Keib replied that it was hard to justify the inconsistency.

Asked what constitutes “insubordination,” Keib replied that it was a “punitive term,” and in when he uses it it is after “numerous verbal and written reprimands and warnings.” Asked if Freshwater was ever insubordinate to Keib, he replied “Not willfully.” Again, an interesting phrase.

Asked what evidence demonstrates that a teacher is teaching to the academic standards, Keib mentioned his being in the room observing during evaluations, inspecting the teacher’s quizzes and handouts, and student performance on standardized tests like the Ohio Achievement Test. Asked if a teacher can teach “beyond the standards,” Keib replied that it was sometimes desirable to do so, for example to connect classroom material with world events.

Keib testified that he does not consider Freshwater to be a “religious” man. He said that his definition of “religious” does not correspond to that of the rest of the world, that the latter is “too general.” We never did find out what Keib means by “religious.” He said some words, but I flatly couldn’t connect them into some sort of coherent thought.

Keib testified that he had had one conversation with Lynda Weston regarding Freshwater due to some complaints from high school science teachers. She had concerns he might be teaching creationism. Keib told her that he had heard it before, but he has been in Freshwater’s room countless times and never saw what she was alleging. He asked her how he could reprimand Freshwater if there’s no evidence. Keib talked to some students about it and was led to believe it wasn’t a Freshwater issue but was an issue of the town and its religious culture. When Keib asked Weston for evidence she didn’t provide any.

Shown the photos of Zachary Dennis’ arm, Keib said that he would first want to look the student in the eye and talk with him about it. He said that teachers, administrators, parents, and students are not always on the same page. When a child tells a parent what happened, it’s not always the version that another might have. In response to questions, Keib emphasized the necessity to talk directly to the child and parents in order to decide what appropriate steps to take.

Keib Cross Examination

Under cross examination by David Millstone, attorney for the Board, Keib testified that the main concern that Kathy Kasler, the high school principal, had was that Freshwater was teaching material outside the academic standards. Keib said that he analyzed lesson plans and observed Freshwater’s classes and never saw any evidence that it occurred.

Asked by Millstone what the “scientific method” is, Keib replied that it was “the steps to prove if something is a fact or a belief.” “Form a hypothesis and test the hypothesis against known laws (e.g., gravity)” (a pretty close quotation).

Millstone went through a calculation to show that Keib’s total time in Freshwater’s classroom amounted to less than 0.5% of Freshwater’s total class time during the period in question.

Keib was unaware that two teachers, Cunningham and Adkins, had traced one of Freshwater’s handouts to allaboutgod.com.

Keib recommended Freshwater for a Distinguished Teacher Award. He could not remember who else he recommended for that award. Recall that in earlier testimony we learned that there were no criteria for receiving the award beyond being nominated.

Keib Redirect

In redirect Hamilton established that Keib’s observations met the requirements of the Ohio Revised Code.

There was no Recross.

The next witness was to have been Ted Kiger, a former student, but since he had been present in the hearing room while an earlier witness testified he was disqualified (the referee had ruled at the beginning that prospective witnesses were not to hear any testimony before they testified - witness sequestration).

Darcy Ann Miller

Darcy Ann Miller is a resident of the district, a mother of two FCA members (6th and 8th grades) in 2007-2008, and spoke several times at FCA at the invitation of her son, a member of Freshwater’s 8th grade science class.

Miller testified that before permission slips were required for FCA attendance (recall that FAC met during the school lunch period) there were 30-40 students per session (three sessions per lunch period). After permission slips were required attendance fell off drastically, and she found it “heart breaking.” I myself found it interesting that when parents were given some control over the religious influences their children were exposed to in the context of the school, they opted out of the apparently mainly fundamentalist views espoused at FCA. And it was also interesting that Miller apparently didn’t think that was a good thing.

Miller talked to both middle school Principal White and Superintendent Short about the permission slip policy, and they both invoked the issue of parental control over the religious training of their children, saying that without it students might wind up attending a Wiccan presentation. (Wicca is a bogeyman for Mt. Vernon fundamentalists. I think we might have all of two Wiccans in the county.)

She testified that she prayed at FCA meetings and was shocked that Freshwater didn’t join in. She didn’t know faculty members could not be actively involved in FCA proceedings.

There was no cross examination.

Robert Bender

Robert Bender is a local Salvation Army major, and spoke at FCA two or three times, invited by his daughter. He testified that Freshwater did not participate, didn’t pray, didn’t lead a healing session, and that students always appeared to be in charge.

In cross examination Millstone established that Bender was testifing pursuant to a civil subpoena issued by Hamilton and not a subpoena issued by the Treasurer of the school district, the ‘official’ issuing authority for the administrative hearing. I think this has some arcane implications, perhaps for downstream actions, but I’m not at all sure. Is there a lawyer in the house?

There was no redirect or recross.

Kerri Mahan

Kerri Mahan testified earlier in the hearing when the Board was putting on its case in chief. Hamilton elected not to cross examine at that time because he would call her now. Recall that her most telling points then were that she saw the “Watchmaker” video during Freshwater’s science class, that he used the handouts hinting at ID that were identified in the investigator’s report, that Freshwater taught the “hydrosphere” theory, and that humans and dinosaurs may have lived at the same time. She testified later in this session that Freshwater “… often presented things that were ‘off the wall’ to stimulate the kids to think about how they can test ideas.”

Mahan testified that she originally sent the Watchmaker video to Freshwater. She also sent it to Lori Miller and a couple of other teachers she thought would be interested. She thought she may have originally got it from her husband.

She said that she cannot now remember whether she saw Freshwater show it in science class or saw his daughter Jordan show it at FCA. However (and most missed this) she described herself as seeing the video while sitting in her normal place in the back of Freshwater’s classroom with a full complement of students in front of her when it was shown. Now, FCA did not meet in Freshwater’s room; it met either in the band room or a stage off the lunch room. The only FCA meetings in Freshwater’s room were ‘leadership’ meetings at which there were on the order of only half a dozen students, not a full complement of students. Further, Mahan testified that she had never attended a leadership meeting. Obvious conclusion: She saw the video in Freshwater’s science class.

Mahan testified that she did not see the Tesla coil used on students in the fashion that’s been described. (Millstone came back to this in cross examination, below.)

Mahan testified that the OAT (now called OAA ; educational reform by acronym revision) emphasizes abstract thinking, and that Freshwater used numerous classroom demonstrations to stimulate abstract thinking. In response to Hamilton’s question, she agreed that the four handouts could be tools to hep students learn the difference between concrete and abstract thinking.

She talked about the “spiritual nature” of children in 8th grade, and that children come with religious beliefs and some with creationist views.

Asked by Hamilton, she testified that the scientific method was at the heart of everything Freshwater did in classes. She testified that he talked about theories, inferences, hypotheses, and laws. He never used the words “intelligent design” – “Never in front of the class.” (Another of those interestingly phrased responses.) Asked by Hamilton if Freshwater ever talked bad about evolution, she replied “Not in front of the kids.”

Asked about the difference between fact and belief, she testified that Freshwater taught that “There are some things you can’t prove because you can’t go back and test it.”

Mahan testified that during her time in his classroom he used a lot of class demonstrations and experiments, but that following the December 7, 2007 incident he stopped doing so for the remainder of the year.

She testified that she has seen the Tesla coil used to “light up gases,” but not to make marks on students’ arms. She said she never heard Freshwater refer to “temporary tattoo,” “make red marks”, or “make crosses.” She testified that if she thought a student had been hurt she would have reported it.

Mahan testified that Freshwater never referred to the “motivational statements” containing verses from Proverbs that were displayed in his room, nor did he refer to the 10 Commandments displayed on the door of his room.

After some personal comments regarding her distress after her earlier testimony and her hope that testifying today would give her closure the direct examination ended.

Cross

In cross examination David Millstone walked Mahan back through the topics he had covered when he interviewed her prior to her earlier testimony. She agreed that she had said that Freshwater taught hydrosphere theory; that some tracks showed that humans and dinosaurs lived together; that Tyrannosaurus rex’s teeth showed that it could not have been a carnivore; that Mt. St. Helen’s could have produced coal rapidly; and that Freshwater had said that “there are things I would like to say but can’t unless you [students] bring it up.”

There were some questions that tried to establish whether Mahan was in Freshwater’s classroom the day Zachary was allegedly burned, and it was not clear that she was.

She re-affirmed that Freshwater never used to phrase “intelligent design,” and “The kids would ask him. He’d never say.” She conceded that the last line of several worksheets had the question “Was an ID involved,” and that the key had the blank filled in with “ID.”

That ended Mahan’s testimony.

Jeff Kuntz Testimony

The final witness on Thursday was Jeff Kuntz, retired middle school principal.

In preliminaries, Kuntz testified that he was not interviewed by HR OnCall, the firm that did the independent investigation for the Board, and that Millstone had interviewed him in November 2008, after the hearing had begun.

A good deal of Kuntz’s testimony was taken up with walking through 13 evaluations of Freshwater that Kuntz (and in one case, a prior assistant principal) performed over the years. In all cases but the last, in 2003, the evaluations were mostly boilerplate with some specific laudatory remarks. The last referred to “Continue to adhere to Board guidelines regarding religion in the classroom.” Asked by Hamilton, Kuntz testified that that remark was in the evaluation for two reasons.

First, Kuntz had a meeting with high school science teacher(s) and Kathy Kasler, high school principal, regarding problems teaching evolution in high school because of Freshwater’s teaching in middle school. Kuntz then talked to Freshwater about it. Subsequently Kuntz again met with Freshwater, high school science teachers Bonnie Schutte and Dick Cunningham, at which he tried to get the various parties to agree on what was appropriate. Second, Kuntz received a complaint from a parent about a handout Freshwater used in class. He spoke with Freshwater about it. Because of those two incidents Kuntz inserted the language quoted above in Freshwater’s evaluation.

Asked by Hamilton if Schutte and Cunningham and Kasler produced any evidence to support their claims, Kuntz replied that he couldn’t remember specifically but that “something in what what they said had caught my attention.”

Kuntz testified that in his experience Freshwater never failed to do what he was instructed to do.

Kuntz testified that he never sw Freshwater participating in FCA on the occasions he walked through. He testified that he knew Freshwater had a Bible in his classroom, and thought others did, too, but couldn’t remember an specifically. He thought perhaps Tim Keib did. He never saw Freshwater use the Bible in class or have it open when students were present.

Kuntz Cross Examination

Again, Millstone established that the subpoena issued to Kuntz was a civil subpoena issued by Hamilton rather than by the Treasurer if the Board of Education.

Kuntz testified that he may have seen the Tesla coil used in a class perhaps once in his time at the middle school, by a Mr. Farmer.

Kuntz testified that he was surprised to learn that Freshwater claimed to have not received any direction regarding his role in FCA. Kuntz said that on at least two occasions he gave Freshwater specific guidelines covering faculty members’ role with respect to FCA, and went on to recite half a dozen of them. He said he had reviewed the guidelines with Freshwater at least twice, and had also done so at least once with Lori Miller, another middle school FCA monitor. He said he made enough copies so Freshwater could distribute them to the other FCA faculty monitors, and that he regarded Freshwater as the ‘lead’ FCA monitor.

That ended the cross examination. In redirect Kuntz testified that he couldn’t recall receiving complaints about Freshwater following the 2002-2003 school year except the interactions with Kasler and the parent who complained in 2004-5 or 2005-6. He was vague about the dates.

That ended Thursday’s testimony.

60 Comments

Richard, third paragraph, “creaqtionism” - fix, then remove comment

Keib testified that he himself had a Bible on his desk while at the middle school, and knew of a “significant number” of teachers who also had Bibles on their desks.

He testified that he knew Freshwater had a Bible in his classroom, and thought others did, too,

Bible on desk… Bible… Bible..

What is with these people? Why does everything always have to be about “Why can’t we pray here?” Is it so freakin difficult to just go into work and, ya know, just plain teach?

Paul Burnett said:

Richard, third paragraph, “creaqtionism” - fix, then remove comment

Got it. Thanks. I like to leave a trail for edits of posts, so I’ll leave the comment.

Again, thanks for your effort in posting, and attending the hearing. Very interesting material.

While we’re talking typos, you’ve got a “Kunta” in the 4th paragraph on Kuntz, but my real question is about his quote in the 5th para:

that “something in what what had caught my attention.”

Was he saying the lack of evidence would have caught his attention, or the it wasn’t something he normally would recall?

He said that Bibles mean one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. They’re used in poetry classes, as a reflective tool, in English classes, and in history classes.

What??? Not that I remember.

How is the bible a “reflective tool”? There is plenty of literature in the English language besides the bible. The history is mostly legend and myth and ends about 100 CE.

In my entire academic career from kindergarten on, no teacher ever bothered to stick a bible on their desk. We all survived just fine.

Really it is just a religious statement. Like wearing a crucifix or cross or a jesus tie.

In the grand scheme of things no big deal but why should anyone care whether the teacher is a xian religious fanatic or not? They are hired to teach and that is it.

stevaroni said:

Keib testified that he himself had a Bible on his desk while at the middle school, and knew of a “significant number” of teachers who also had Bibles on their desks.

He testified that he knew Freshwater had a Bible in his classroom, and thought others did, too,

Bible on desk… Bible… Bible..

What is with these people? Why does everything always have to be about “Why can’t we pray here?” Is it so freakin difficult to just go into work and, ya know, just plain teach?

Indeed. Aside from the fact that this teacher burned a student (Why isn’t he in jail?), this is the most disturbing part of this case. Someone needs to explain to these nimrods that a bible on a desk is most definitely a religious display. How do they think the non-Christian students feel when they see something like that sponsored by an authority figure? Included? Welcome? I’d guess not.

There is no secular nor pedagogical reason for a teacher to have a bible on his or her desk. The Mt. Vernon school administration clearly needs to learn this lesson.

Keib is a graduate of Cedarville University, a very conservative Christian school in Ohio.

I grew up about 20 minutes from Cedarville U. Many, many of the student teachers I had in public school throughout the years were from Cedarville. I don’t recall any of them doing anything religious in the classroom, even though all of us students knew they weren’t just religious, but were REALLY religious.

The fact that this very conservative college is pumping out school teachers year after year never even struck me until just now. I imagine there’s all sorts of Cedarville grads in teaching and administrative positions in Ohio public schools. Wow. Likely, Mt. Vernon is just the tip of the iceberg.

Maya said: There is no secular nor pedagogical reason for a teacher to have a bible on his or her desk.

I have a bible I bought for 30% off…it has a big red sticker on the front that explains why: “Slightly Imperfect.”

While not a schoolteacher, I could see some pedagogical value in displaying it. :)

Someone needs to explain to these nimrods that a bible on a desk is most definitely a religious display. How do they think the non-Christian students feel when they see something like that sponsored by an authority figure? Included? Welcome? I’d guess not.

Presumably Moslems put a Koran on their desk, Jews the Torah and Talmud, Hindus their holy books and so on.

So what do Buddhists do? Or Nordic pagans? Agnostics? Atheists? Wiccans? Deists?

I can see a small industry being created. The desk top friendly religious display for 100 or so different religions.

The Atheists can always just pile up Bertrand Russell, Hitchen’s, and Dawkin’s books. The Deists and Pantheists are going to be a problem. The Wiccans and Druids will be…interesting.

e-dogg said:

While we’re talking typos, you’ve got a “Kunta” in the 4th paragraph on Kuntz, but my real question is about his quote in the 5th para:

that “something in what what had caught my attention.”

Was he saying the lack of evidence would have caught his attention, or the it wasn’t something he normally would recall?

Ack! That should read “Something in what they said …”. I’ll correct it.

raven said:

He said that Bibles mean one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. They’re used in poetry classes, as a reflective tool, in English classes, and in history classes.

What??? Not that I remember.

How is the bible a “reflective tool”? There is plenty of literature in the English language besides the bible. The history is mostly legend and myth and ends about 100 CE.

In my entire academic career from kindergarten on, no teacher ever bothered to stick a bible on their desk. We all survived just fine.

Really it is just a religious statement. Like wearing a crucifix or cross or a jesus tie.

In the grand scheme of things no big deal but why should anyone care whether the teacher is a xian religious fanatic or not? They are hired to teach and that is it.

FWIW…Centerburg (also in Knox County) Elementary School in the late 70s. I was in 6th grade.

My English teacher was the wife of a local pastor. I doubt that she had any influence over the placement of the 23rd Psalm in my textbook. We didn’t just read it, everyone in the class was required to memorize it and present it. Around the same time, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” was also in the textbook and we all memorized and presented it.

Through the entire time I was a student at Centerburg and then my own children, there was a man on the board (still is - up for re-election on Tuesday) who would not endorse or attend any school function that was held on a Wednesday evening. Wednesday evening was a time for worship and that would be where he could be found.

One of my daughter’s high school history teachers found a way to work his own proselytizing into world history class. I can appreciate a discussion of religion as it pertains to world history. My answers to her questions regarding the teacher’s own religion usually involved a statement regarding how many other religions had she learned about, followed by the question “Do you really think his church is the only church that matters?”

As a young parent, I really didn’t understand the battleground that was forming. “Dover” was a city in Delaware as far as I knew. Now that this war has found a battleground in my own backyard, I look back at events such as these and realize how naive I really was.

One of the newer small churches that sprang up around my neighborhood recently has a sign out in front which currently reads “It’s still wrong, even if everybody else is doing it.” It doesn’t matter if it’s due the the “religious* culture” of the community, if you’re a teacher then you can’t keep putting Bibles on your desk at a public school.


*Whatever THAT means when Mr. Keib says it.

Someone needs to explain to these nimrods that a bible on a desk is most definitely a religious display. How do they think the non-Christian students feel when they see something like that sponsored by an authority figure?

I suspect that when Freshwater had to go to the principals office to discuss this for the first time, if instead of “Kathy Kasler” the name on the door was “Kamila Kasslah”, she was known to be a fervent Muslim, and there was (just coincidentally) a shiny Koran front and center on her desk, Freshwater’s lawyer would be singing a wholly different tune right now about how inappropriate it was for her to have her personal religion on prominent display in the workplace, and how that clearly intimidated those like John Freshwater who might disagree with it.

He said that Bibles mean one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. They’re used in poetry classes, as a reflective tool, in English classes, and in history classes.

The immediate follow-up question should have been “Well, you’re the assistant principal, how many Biblical poetry classes do you offer here at Mt Vernon?”

raven said:

He said that Bibles mean one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. They’re used in poetry classes, as a reflective tool, in English classes, and in history classes.

What??? Not that I remember.

How is the bible a “reflective tool”? There is plenty of literature in the English language besides the bible. The history is mostly legend and myth and ends about 100 CE.

In my entire academic career from kindergarten on, no teacher ever bothered to stick a bible on their desk. We all survived just fine.

Really it is just a religious statement. Like wearing a crucifix or cross or a jesus tie.

In the grand scheme of things no big deal but why should anyone care whether the teacher is a xian religious fanatic or not? They are hired to teach and that is it.

As a teacher of both English and Social Studies, I must say that I have used the Bible extensively over the years in both subjects. One cannot, for example, teach Paradise Lost without knowing the early books of Genesis. One cannot teach medieval history without understanding key Christian texts. One cannot teach ancient middle eastern history without understanding the foundational myths of the cultures. I have, fr example, just finished teaching a comparison of ancient hebrew society with ancient sumeria. We compared the Book of Job to the “righteous Stranger.” In another lesson, we compare the epic of Gilgamesh Flood story to the Noah story. Clearly the Bible has an important place in the study of western lit and civilization.

Now, having said that, let me point out that I am not a Christian. I am merely saying that to understand the literature and culture of the european traditions means understanding Christianity.

At the same time, this is clearly different from the kind of religious display that is being described above. And, it has no place in science class. There is a right way and a wrong way to treat religious texts in the public schools. Any professional knows this. Fresthwater et al are either ignorant of what every other teacher knows or they are simply trying to get away with prosletyzing in teh classroom.

Jason F. said:

Keib is a graduate of Cedarville University, a very conservative Christian school in Ohio.

I grew up about 20 minutes from Cedarville U. Many, many of the student teachers I had in public school throughout the years were from Cedarville. I don’t recall any of them doing anything religious in the classroom, even though all of us students knew they weren’t just religious, but were REALLY religious.

The fact that this very conservative college is pumping out school teachers year after year never even struck me until just now. I imagine there’s all sorts of Cedarville grads in teaching and administrative positions in Ohio public schools. Wow. Likely, Mt. Vernon is just the tip of the iceberg.

You ought to live in Bob Jones U. country…

So what do Buddhists do? Or Nordic pagans? Agnostics? Atheists? Wiccans? Deists?

And for us First Amendment absolutists, we’d have a copy of the Constitution topped by the Federalist Papers and Antifederalist Papers, a couple of Martin Gardner books, “Memorial and Remonstrance,” Notes on the State of Virginia, Gamow’s One, Two, Three … Infinity,”, both of Feynman’s autobiographies, Silent Spring, The Jungle, Zinsser’s Rats, Lice and History some stuff by Stephen J. Gould, “Common Sense,” A Sand County Almanac, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” all the works of Charles Darwin, and the rest of the library funneled through a wormhole.

There wouldn’t be room for the class to meet there. We’d have to meet in the library, and outdoors, and other places.

It would be the most popular class.

John Freshwater would have a heart attack.

stevaroni said:

He said that Bibles mean one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. They’re used in poetry classes, as a reflective tool, in English classes, and in history classes.

The immediate follow-up question should have been “Well, you’re the assistant principal, how many Biblical poetry classes do you offer here at Mt Vernon?”

Ever hear of Milton and Paradise Lost? Or William Blake? Or Gerard Manley Hopkins? T.S. Eliot? Use of the Bible in poetry class need not mean a “Biblical poetry class” as you suggest.

Of course these folk are apologists for creationist BS, but lets not get ridiculous… knowledge of the Bible, even reading of the Bible is appropriate in any number of different contexts when studying poetry. I’m not a Christian, or even religious but knowledge of religion is crucial to understanding the history of western literature, art, and culture.

I’m not a Christian, or even religious but knowledge of religion is crucial to understanding the history of western literature, art, and culture.

Not buying that knowledge of the bible is crucial to anything like western literature, art, etc. Most xians, especially fundies have almost no idea what is really in the bible, none. Their leaders carefully explain redacted sound bites of a small portion.

I would concede that it could be useful. But you don’t need a bible to explain the legends and stories, Jonah and the fish, Samson with the enchanted hair, Lot impregnating his 2 daughters at their insistence, and so on.

Actually reading the bible is a known gateway to atheism.

The real problem is that fundies can and do abuse the bible if they can get away with it. Everything they touch becomes a battleground for their cult’s advancement. Bible as literature or world religion classes inevitably end up being fundie indoctrination classes

They took over the boy scouts, an outdoor camping adventure group, and turned them into arms of the fundie and Mormon churches who openly discriminate against gays and atheists. You cannot be an atheist and join the boy scouts!

The schools are now cultural and religious battlegrounds because of this and that is the way it is. Even my West coast highly secular, highly pluralistic school district is getting hit. A few parents complained that the Antichrist Moslem demon aka as “President Obama” was going to televise to kids and holy Cthulhu, tell them to study hard and get a job. It was canceled. No president of either party will ever try that again. Another group of Commicrats in the district are now trying to fire the superintendent over this. They might actually get him fired, heard the school board is mostly Commicrats and they are ticked off.

I’m really going to have to repeat my central point. It is a brave new world of spiritual and cultural warfare. The schools are now cultural and religious battlegrounds because of the fundies and that is the way it is.

We never had this where I was growing up, never had it through several higher ed. institutions either. Took me a while to realize it. These days schools are going to have to walk a straight and narrow line of neutrality or people on one side or another are going to make life miserable for them or have their jobs. Down in Texas, you can be fired as a “suspected atheist” in public schools. You don’t even have to actually, you know, be an atheist and evidence is of course, not necessary.

Everything the fundies touch becomes a battleground, politics, the GOP, schools, the boy scouts, science, and who knows what next.

raven said:

I’m not a Christian, or even religious but knowledge of religion is crucial to understanding the history of western literature, art, and culture.

Not buying that knowledge of the bible is crucial to anything like western literature, art, etc.

I’m personally pretty incredulous at the idea that you can grok Western Lit. without rolling up your sleeves and reading through the Bible at least in part, on occasion. Jeez, especially if your unit is covering William Blake.

Most xians, especially fundies have almost no idea what is really in the bible, none. Their leaders carefully explain redacted sound bites of a small portion.

That kind of proves the point: fundies are not (anecdote warning: in my experience) very good at Literature. Really understanding the literature requires things like context and knowledge of the culture in question, things that Literalists tend to shun.

I would concede that it could be useful. But you don’t need a bible to explain the legends and stories, Jonah and the fish, Samson with the enchanted hair, Lot impregnating his 2 daughters at their insistence, and so on.

Actually reading the bible is a known gateway to atheism.

This seems kind of rambly and you’re not really making a strong point. I think the next part is clearer:

Bible as literature or world religion classes inevitably end up being fundie indoctrination classes.

That’s more like it. However, I think that’s a bit of a slippery slope fallacy, of the kind some people make when they say that philosophy classes reading Marx will inevitably end up being Commie indoctrination classes.

I took two different English classes that used parts of the Bible as required reading, and neither of them turned into fundy indoctrination classes. The teachers really did just use it as literature.

wheels:

I’m personally pretty incredulous at the idea that you can grok Western Lit. without rolling up your sleeves and reading through the Bible at least in part, on occasion. Jeez, especially if your unit is covering William Blake.

So OK be incredulous. Our Western lit. class never did. We are talking high school at most here not Harvard English majors. A lot of public secondary schools are more concerned with keeping guns and knives out of school than making sure everyone understands the references in William Blake. My school didn’t have a metal detector at the door either but that was then, not 2009.

wheels:

That’s more like it. However, I think that’s a bit of a slippery slope fallacy, of the kind some people make when they say that philosophy classes reading Marx will inevitably end up being Commie indoctrination classes.

So slide again. One social studies teacher in my HS assigned The Communist Manifesto as a reading during Evil Empire week. Parents complained and the next day he canceled it while looking rather nervous. He was not a commie but you never know. Remember we are talking high school here, not college.

ts:

I took two different English classes that used parts of the Bible as required reading, and neither of them turned into fundy indoctrination classes. The teachers really did just use it as literature.

That’s good to hear. I doubt the teacher burned a cross on students with a Tesla coil either.

I’ve heard from people in Texas that bible as literature courses usually are taught by hardcore religious fanatics and tend to end up as straight bible studies classes.

As a boomer, my high school was long ago in a different era and age. The fundies existed but never registered on anyone’s radar screens. You could even teach evolution in HS without half the kids claiming demonic possession and fainting while the parents called you an atheist or worse.

The point I’m trying to make is that things are different now. It is 2009, not 1969 or 1979. The public schools have been turned into religious and cultural battlegrounds and there will be casualties. That is also the point being made by the whole Freshwater-Mount Vernon saga or Dover.

In my first post, the conflict about Obama’s TV broadcast was mentioned. Our school superintendent didn’t broadcast it after a few parents complained. A few more parents complained about that move. I just looked it up. His job is now being advertised as “open”. To be sure, I have no idea why he is leaving, resigned, better job, fired, or what. He seems to have been a well regarded and competent administrator.

Astonishing. Raven, I had no idea that it had gone so far. Is it really the case that teaching evolution in public high schools in America produces that reaction? I have heard that there are kids here and there who are encouraged to “challenge” science teachers by fundy parents whose main source of information is Jack Chick comics, but I thought that most of those wouldn’t be in the public schools.

Are there really at least a half-dozen in every class? I can see why teachers would be reluctant to take teaching evolution on, then. Half a dozen kids trying to disrupt a class will always succeed.

raven you push too far. And the danger in pushing too far is that you let fundies frame the argument into their desired culture war I am a martyr mindset. If a person is using a world religion class to preach, bust them for that. It does not follow that one must teach a distorted history and incomplete history that pretends there was no significant effect of religion on Western Civilization. Far from every school in America has given in to the kind of dysfunctional inner city version you paint with the metal detectors reference.

truthspeaker said:

I took two different English classes that used parts of the Bible as required reading, and neither of them turned into fundy indoctrination classes. The teachers really did just use it as literature.

In high school?

That was a long, long time ago for me, but I’ve been racking my brain trying to find examples from my high school education where some Biblical knowledge was really used, and all I come up with are discussing Paradise Lost, and some of the religion-driven historical events, like Henry’s split from Catholicism and the actions of Martin Luther, or the travails of Gallileo.

I suppose that a current-events class might discuss the evolution debate, or talk about abortion politics or the rise of militant Islam, and those might require some context from the Bible or Koran.

But really, all these instances are not much more than framing references and most of them are more about organized religions than any specific holy book. Paradise Lost is more about Renaissance Italy than it is about Judea, even though some of it’s characters are Biblical references. How far into Genesis do you really have to get to explain why Lucifer is in a perpetually miserable mood?

These subjects might require having a Bible on the reference bookshelf for the sake of getting the quote right, but at a high school level, it’s hardly a case of using the Bible as a supplemental text, and you certainly don’t need it front and center on your desk, like a literary version of the Physicians Desk Reference.

Especially in a physics class.

Dave Luckett said:

Astonishing. Raven, I had no idea that it had gone so far. Is it really the case that teaching evolution in public high schools in America produces that reaction? I have heard that there are kids here and there who are encouraged to “challenge” science teachers by fundy parents whose main source of information is Jack Chick comics, but I thought that most of those wouldn’t be in the public schools.

Are there really at least a half-dozen in every class? I can see why teachers would be reluctant to take teaching evolution on, then. Half a dozen kids trying to disrupt a class will always succeed.

Dave, depends on the area. In many areas it is far worse than that.

1. Evolution isn’t even taught in many or most public schools in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, and the surrounding south central USA. Even when it is mandated in the state standards.

2. One science teacher in California states that every year, students leave messages about praying and god on his desk among other activities. Ironically, he is a church goer himself.

3. One teacher states that he was harrassed out of a school in rural NC for teaching evolution. The administration and parents just made his life hell till he quit.

4. The above is not uncommon. No one keeps tally of how many secondary science teachers are harrassed or fired for teaching evolution but it happens and is probably a lot. It even happens in colleges occasionally. Bitterman was fired from SW Iowa CC for not teaching that Western Civilization started with a Talking Snake.

FWIW, below is documentation of another crime against humanity that can get you fired these days. Suspected Atheism Bad show, at least when they hunt witches, they collect evidence such as tying them up and throwing them in a pond.

Teacher suspended after accusation of atheism — Bligbi It appears that a teacher by the name of Richard Mullens of Brookeland, Texas was suspended after a parent accused him of being an atheist. …

Raven - I completely agree that fundie nonsense has turned many schools in battlefields. I deal with this everyday in the classroom, both in my secondary and in my college classes. My point was simply that you are going way too far in suggesting that the Bible has no place in the classroom. It has a definite place, right next to the other reference books on my shelf.

raven said:

I’m not a Christian, or even religious but knowledge of religion is crucial to understanding the history of western literature, art, and culture.

Not buying that knowledge of the bible is crucial to anything like western literature, art, etc.

What I actually said was that knowledge of “religion” not the Bible was necessary. But understanding Christianity means understanding the central text and how christians have interpreted it variously over time. This doesn’t mean promoting Christianity; it means studying it. Do fundies abuse this. Yes, they can. But the point is to challange them on professional terms not the kind of wholesale disregard for legitimate professional rpactices that your somewhat hasty remarks seemed to imply.

I’m sorry that you don’t “buy” the necessity of the Bible for understanding the topics that I teach. let me just say that professionally, assigning Paradise Lost without assigning the first chapters of Genesis as a point of comparison is doing a disservice to students. Reading the actual texts is always best, rather than paraphrase.

Similarly, a high school course on “Tragedy” will most likely assign Job.

raven said:

Most xians, especially fundies have almost no idea what is really in the bible, none. Their leaders carefully explain redacted sound bites of a small portion.

Of course. But what does this have to do with my point? How a text is used can be part of the discussion and analysis of the text. Just because Christians are selective in their use of the Bible does not mean the Bible is not an important cultural document. Anymore than the fact that politicians use the Constitution selectively means that we should not be reading it if we want to understand American history.

I just got back from a delightful talk last night by Dr. Eugenie Scott here in Ashland, Oregon. While there, I ran into one of the local middle school teachers I know. She told about teaching in the small town of Brookings, on the Oregon coast. In her science class, she couldn’t even say, “Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe”, without getting irate fundie parents storming in to her classroom and the principal’s office to complain. Literally: “Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe” was too controversial for those parents, and threatened the very fabric of their existence, as well as the moral certitude of their children.

I wouldn’t have said so before last night, but yes, sad to say, I think it has gotten that bad.

stevaroni said:

In high school?

Yes, in high school. Just over the past few weeks I’ve assigned readings from two different books of the Bible for two different classes. For legitimate pedagogical reasons. I’m not even religious, let alone Christian. My original post to Raven gave a short list of the contexts I would assign readings from the Bible.

But really, all these instances are not much more than framing references and most of them are more about organized religions than any specific holy book. Paradise Lost is more about Renaissance Italy than it is about Judea, even though some of it’s characters are Biblical references. How far into Genesis do you really have to get to explain why Lucifer is in a perpetually miserable mood?

Renaissance Italy??? Are you confusing Milton with Dante? Or is this some sort of reference I’m unfamiliar with?

Anyway, the point:Understanding Milton means udnerstanding teh text he drew from. We read early Genesis to draw comparisons with Milton. The comparison is highly instructive becaues it demonstrates that Milton is putting much more emphasis on Satan, even constructing a new mythology that borders on a kind of heroic stature for Satan. This in turn suggests how complex the relationship between the Rennaissance notion of individuality and orthodox christianity was. Asking students to make such connections and analysis in high school is what contemporary standards expect. You may not find this valuable personally as your rather dismissive tone about “being in a bad mood” conveys, nevertheless this is considered good practice.

These subjects might require having a Bible on the reference bookshelf for the sake of getting the quote right, but at a high school level, it’s hardly a case of using the Bible as a supplemental text, and you certainly don’t need it front and center on your desk, like a literary version of the Physicians Desk Reference.

Um, yes, exactly. That was the whole point. But Raven and others such as yourself seemed to be dismissive of the whole notion of teaching from the Bible in high school. Which is quite another matter altogether.

Raven,

I have to disagree with you regarding the Bible and its role in public school education. As Sylvilagus has already addressed, there are literature classes and activities that simply don’t make any sense without some mention of the Biblical roots, etc. Also, in the states where I have held a certificate, they have required a teaching of comparative religions in their world history standards. I have taught that class a number of times and each time have done projects with comparative analysis of the five major religions of the world as well as select less expansive religious beliefs.

I will agree that the fundies can, and do, use these opportunities to force their beliefs into the system, but they do so in biology classes, English classes, and even math classes. The issue isn’t the realities of history and literature, it is the tenacity of the religious fundamentalist and their desire to preach to captive audiences.

I also have to dispute your presentation of the problem in somewhat hysterical terms. I happen to teach in a fundie, ultra-conservative area. I teach an advanced, college level, history class and in it use, Marx and Darwin, Nitche, Voltaire, and others who present very controversial issues (from the point of view of the fundy ultra conservative). I do have students who object, argue “it’s only a theory,” insist that teachers leading prayers are okay, even that mandatory prayer would be “just fine,” but I still don’t see a half dozen kids in every class making these objections. I also don’t back down or cower before the objections and, at least this week, I still have a job. I’ll let you know about next we…

Kind of amusing when people think High School education = readin’ ritin’, and rithmatic!

Sylvilagus said:

stevaroni said:

In high school?

Yes, in high school. Just over the past few weeks I’ve assigned readings from two different books of the Bible for two different classes. For legitimate pedagogical reasons. I’m not even religious, let alone Christian. My original post to Raven gave a short list of the contexts I would assign readings from the Bible.

In her science class, she couldn’t even say, “Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe”, without getting irate fundie parents storming in to her classroom and the principal’s office to complain.

Wow, just wow. Drawing a blank here, to a fundie xian what is wrong with the hydrogen statement and what is the most abundant element in the universe?

So how long will this middle school teacher last? Most people don’t want a job to be a martyr, they want one to pay the bills. Without compelling reasons to be in Brookings, I’d likely be on the next train out

They can get a lot uglier than just storming the principal’s office. The NC teacher had parents invade his class and scream at him. He quit.

I also have to dispute your presentation of the problem in somewhat hysterical terms. I happen to teach in a fundie, ultra-conservative area. I teach an advanced, college level, history class and in it use, Marx and Darwin, Nitche, Voltaire, and others who present very controversial issues (from the point of view of the fundy ultra conservative). I do have students who object, argue “it’s only a theory,” insist that teachers leading prayers are okay, even that mandatory prayer would be “just fine,” but I still don’t see a half dozen kids in every class making these objections. I also don’t back down or cower before the objections and, at least this week, I still have a job. I’ll let you know about next we…

Who is hysterical. See Scott’s strange story above. I can name 5 or 10 teachers off the top of my head who have been harrassed or fired for “suspected atheism”, teaching evolution, or not being “conservative” enough. It hit home with the local school district flaming up over Obama’s speech. As of last night, the superintendent is gone for reasons unknown to me but likely to do with the decision to cancel that speech.

And I live on the west coast, not exactly fundie territory.

At any rate good luck with your job. With the administration’s backing you should do all right. Without it,.…the next Richard Mullens.

When I said the schools are cultural and religious battlegrounds, that is just a fact. It certainly doesn’t mean we back down from the battle, not if we want to keep our civilization and democracy running.

Remember, they have a god given morality. Since their god is an inept, genocidal maniac that looks a lot like satan, you can imagine what that is worth. Watch your back or end up picking knives out of it.

Scott said: Literally: “Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe” was too controversial for those parents, and threatened the very fabric of their existence, as well as the moral certitude of their children.

Like “raven,” I am mystified as to why fundagelicals, given their monumental scientific illiteracy, would be offended by this statement of scientific fact. Most of the baryonic matter in the universe, about 74%, is hydrogen (most of the rest is helium, at about 24%).

(Would the fundagelical ignorami be as offended if somebody said “Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe”?)

Maybe it’s too late in the evening, but I’m flummoxed as to what is objectionable about hydrogen. Does anybody have any ideas? (Can one of the fundie trolls possibly help us out here?)

Sylvilagus said:

Yes, in high school. Just over the past few weeks I’ve assigned readings from two different books of the Bible for two different classes. For legitimate pedagogical reasons.

Wow. You have better lit classes where you teach than we did when I went to school.

All I remember from my High School lit classes is that Miss Havisham held a grudge for a long time, Charles Darnay did a far, far better thing, and if you did the reading equivalent of squinting, you could find all manner of dirty stuff in Elizabethan stories.

My original post to Raven gave a short list of the contexts I would assign readings from the Bible.

No, I saw that. I just didn’t realize that you really were teaching at a high school level. From the Milton reference, I had assumed intro college.

Praytell, what particularly do you have students read?I always found the Bible to be kind of a narrative mess, full of anachronistic language that requires a lot of “inside baseball” knowledge about ancient Judea.

Psalms is nice in spots, though.

stevaroni, the “anachronistic language” is largely a by-product of the King James or “Authorised” version, a translation completed (as I recall) in 1614 that deliberately used language that was old-fashioned even then. As you say, it does very well translating the poetry of the Bible, generally, less well with the chronicle, biography and theology, but it is still nevertheless “the Bible” to most English-speaking Protestants.

There are better, more recent translations with extensive footnotes using contemporary language to get around the difficulties you mention. I recommend the Revised Standard Version, myself, but YMMV.

I should say that with the more extreme of the fundangelicals, any translation other than the KJV is, for some reason known only to them, the work of the Devil. This would no doubt lead to fights if some other translation were used in class. As we say down here, you wouldn’t read about it.

Paul Burnett said:

Scott said: Literally: “Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe” was too controversial for those parents, and threatened the very fabric of their existence, as well as the moral certitude of their children.

Like “raven,” I am mystified as to why fundagelicals, given their monumental scientific illiteracy, would be offended by this statement of scientific fact. Most of the baryonic matter in the universe, about 74%, is hydrogen (most of the rest is helium, at about 24%).

(Would the fundagelical ignorami be as offended if somebody said “Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe”?)

Maybe it’s too late in the evening, but I’m flummoxed as to what is objectionable about hydrogen. Does anybody have any ideas? (Can one of the fundie trolls possibly help us out here?)

Not to step on any troll toes, but I believe be related to size of universe and energy source of stars arguments. While guest lecturing at a local Christian High School, I ran into students who would accept that the sun’s energy comes from nuclear reactions. They cling to “the sun can’t be billions of years old – Lord Kelvin said so– and that means scientists are wrong” type argument and refuse to move out of the 19th century.

I would venture that anything that threatens their worldview – like mentioning there’s a lot of hydrogen about to accumulate into stars – is the beginning of the slippery slope of deception engineered by Satan, his demons and scientists.

Sorry, the first line should read “…I believe this may be related…”

Never post before first coffee of the day.

My guess about the “hydrogen is the devil’s element”.

1. The parent was going to complain no matter what the teacher did. And was too stupid to know the difference between hydrogen, evolution, or fantasy.

They may have been acting under orders of a cult leader.

2. The parent might have been mentally ill. Schizophrenia runs about 1% of the population and the mentally ill are targeted by xian missionaires.

One deranged xian cultist might not represent the town of Brookings. This does seem to be standard fundie cult tactic in the “schools as battlegrounds” model of education.

It behooves the administrations and teachers to expect it and learn to deal with it.

Sylvilagus:

Last night, I asked you… “Praytell, what particularly do you have students read?”

I didn’t realize that you had already answered the question - sometimes comment updates don’t reload very promptly on my browser and I run a few hours behind. My apologies if I appear to be badgering the witness.

bk said:

While guest lecturing at a local Christian High School, I ran into students who would accept that the sun’s energy comes from nuclear reactions.

That should read:

While guest lecturing at a local Christian High School, I ran into students who would not accept that the sun’s energy comes from nuclear reactions.

– I have my first cup now.

Renaissance Italy??? Are you confusing Milton with Dante?

Sorry. You’re right. I’ve gotten my Milton and Dante completely intertwined. My old high school English teacher, Mrs Kramer, would be rightly appalled.

Dave Luckett said:

There are better, more recent translations with extensive footnotes using contemporary language to get around the difficulties you mention. I recommend the Revised Standard Version, myself, but YMMV.

I remember reading a note in the New International Version to the effect that many passages, to emphasize immediacy, were originally written in the present tense. I found that amusing. Like listening to teenage girls gossip.

Scott says…

In her science class, she couldn’t even say, “Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe”

BK says…

I ran into students who would not accept that the sun’s energy comes from nuclear reactions.

Seriously?

This is all news to me (and I live in Texas for cryin’ out loud).

Does anyone have any idea what the theological issue with light elements and nuclear fusion might conceivably be?

And, praytell, what might be the alternate explanation behind all the energy coming off the sun?

bk said:

bk said:

While guest lecturing at a local Christian High School, I ran into students who would accept that the sun’s energy comes from nuclear reactions.

That should read:

While guest lecturing at a local Christian High School, I ran into students who would not accept that the sun’s energy comes from nuclear reactions.

– I have my first cup now.

An anthropology colleague of mine at an Ivy league university tells me that she regularly has fundie students insist that men have one less rib than women (even though this is not a necessary reading of Genesis). When confronted with actual male and female human skeletons, one such student insisted that they must both be female.

stevaroni said:

Sylvilagus:

Last night, I asked you… “Praytell, what particularly do you have students read?”

I didn’t realize that you had already answered the question - sometimes comment updates don’t reload very promptly on my browser and I run a few hours behind. My apologies if I appear to be badgering the witness.

No problem. Thanks for the conversation.

stevaroni said: Does anyone have any idea what the theological issue with light elements and nuclear fusion might conceivably be?

Well, as bk pointed out fusion power is a mechanism that allows for billion-year-old suns. Which some people find heretical.

I would also suspect that most creationists are smart enough to realize that the same nuclear theory underlies both fusion and radioactive decay processes, so giving weight to one concept gives weight to the other.

I’m also flummoxed about the hydrogen abundancy issue. Maybe its just close enough to other uncomfortable scientific ideas that they reject it out of hand; guilt by association, as it were.

stevaroni said:

And, praytell, what might be the alternate explanation behind all the energy coming off the sun?

The energy released by gravitational collapse. If no nuclear processes are involved, you still can get the energy flux we have now (a near obvious results since gravitational collapse “ignites” the nuclear reactions), but the Sun would burn out too soon to have been here for billions of years. Lord Kelvin did a bounding calculation that gave an upper bound of about 20 million years (according to wikipedia), and the creationists are unwilling to give up a “proof” that the Sun can’t be billions of years old – even though having a Sun that could burn for that long has nothing to do with fundamentalist reading’s of the Bible.

bk said:

stevaroni said:

And, praytell, what might be the alternate explanation behind all the energy coming off the sun?

The energy released by gravitational collapse. If no nuclear processes are involved, you still can get the energy flux we have now (a near obvious results since gravitational collapse “ignites” the nuclear reactions), but the Sun would burn out too soon to have been here for billions of years. Lord Kelvin did a bounding calculation that gave an upper bound of about 20 million years (according to wikipedia), and the creationists are unwilling to give up a “proof” that the Sun can’t be billions of years old – even though having a Sun that could burn for that long has nothing to do with fundamentalist reading’s of the Bible.

This is an important point to make about where energy exists and how it can be triggered to be released.

In effect, the gravitational potential energy is the trigger for these nuclear reactions by confining the particles with high kinetic energies into a small enough volume where collisions among them are highly probable. Thus the nuclear potential “hills” that must be overcome for fusion to occur are surmounted by the high kinetic energies of the particles colliding frequently.

Much of that kinetic energy of the particles comes from having fallen into the gravitational well of their mutual gravitational attraction.

This sequence of processes is representative of many other such processes in physics and chemistry; and it is a fundamental characteristic of matter, and its interactions, in the universe that ID/creationists overlook when they start waving their “improbability calculations” about the formation of complex systems.

Does anyone have any idea what the theological issue with light elements and nuclear fusion might conceivably be?

My guess: the Big Bang theory makes predictions about the relative abundance of elements and isotopes. So observations of those ratios is one of the pieces of evidence that scientists are apt to mention when discussing that theory.

Henry

eric said:

stevaroni said: Does anyone have any idea what the theological issue with light elements and nuclear fusion might conceivably be?

Well, as bk pointed out fusion power is a mechanism that allows for billion-year-old suns. Which some people find heretical.

Oooo kaay.

But it could just as easily be an elegant mechanism that powers a 6000 year old sun.

So now they’re throwing out simple physics because some apparent explanation doesn’t explicitly disallow an olde earth?

Part of me thinks that we should just stand out of the way till they get around to loudly denying a round earth and moving sun in a Fox News prime time roundtable.

Sigh, but then I remember all the damage they’d do to the education of millions of kids in the meantime.

stevaroni:

Part of me thinks that we should just stand out of the way till they get around to loudly denying a round earth and moving sun in a Fox News prime time roundtable.

What!!! The fundies already do so. 26% of the fundie xians believe the sun orbits the earth, Geocentrism. They say so often. Jeanson the Harvard Ph.D. grad stated that the earth is the center of the universe. Anyone who sees the Milky Way galaxy at night knows this isn’t possible. The Flat Earthers still exist in small numbers although it is more common among Moslem fundies.

Significant numbers believe the moon is a self glowing disk because it says so in Genesis. Strange that the astronauts never noticed that on their walks about the surface.

About the Brookings parent. It is clear that no matter what the science teacher said, they were going to storm the school and complain. It could just as easily have been diagraming the solar system with the sun at the center.

As to what to do about it, what can you do? Throwing out 2,000 years of science because one student’s parent is a religious kook isn’t an option.

I probably would have smiled and nodded and hoped they never come back. Most likely what happens in these situations is that after the parents have screamed and yelled and threatened, they yank their kid out of school and “homeschool” them.

I’ve seen that twice among people in my area. The problem is they do take their kids out. They don’t educate them. One kid barely reads a few words in his 20’s. The other kid reads on a third grade level.

Fundies have a habit of setting their kids up to fail. Then they fail.

raven said: Fundies have a habit of setting their kids up to fail. Then they fail.

Then they blame the Worldwide Baby-Eating Atheist Consipiracy.

Raven, the moon landing was a hoax, fundies know that.

stevaroni said: Part of me thinks that we should just stand out of the way till they get around to loudly denying a round earth and moving sun in a Fox News prime time roundtable.

You mean like this?

You’ll also like this one. In case you were under the mistaken impression that the ignorance was limited to science.

Granted, these are from an ABC daytime roundtable, not a Fox primetime roundtable, and Sherri Shepherd is hardly representative of anything, but nevertheless we’re not too far away from where you despair we’ll go.

fnxtr said:

raven said: Fundies have a habit of setting their kids up to fail. Then they fail.

Then they blame the Worldwide Baby-Eating Atheist Consipiracy.

No, then they go out and vote.

Raven, the moon landing was a hoax, fundies know that.

Yeah, if it was real they would have brought back cheese, not rocks. :)

Richard, It’s Kerri Mahan, not Terri.

lyn said:

Richard, It’s Kerri Mahan, not Terri.

Oops. Thanks.

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