Another religious assault on education

Conservative religious groups are once again making grade school textbooks the battleground. In California, supremacists and revisionists are trying to make radical changes to kids' textbooks, inserting propaganda and absurd assertions that are not supported in any way by legitimate scholars. The primary effort is to mangle history, but they're also trying to make ridiculous claims about scientific issues.

Such as that civilization started 111.5 trillion years ago, and that people flew to the moon and set off atomic bombs thousands of years ago.

(OK, everyone, let's all do our best imitation Jon Stewart double-take: "Whaaa…??")

Yeah, these aren't fundamentalist Christians, but Hindu nationalists with very strange ideas—still, it's the same old religious nonsense. Two groups, the Vedic Foundation and Hindu Education Foundation, have a whole slate of peculiar historical ideas driven by their religious ideology, and are pressuring the California State Board of Education to modify textbooks. They want to recast Hinduism as a monotheistic religion, whitewash the caste system and the oppression of women, and peddle racist notions about Aryan origins.

This is what happens when religious dogma is allowed to dictate educational content—reality and evidence and objective analysis all become irrelevant. The earth is neither 111.5 trillion years old, nor only 6,000 years old, and the errors and misperceptions of old priests are not a sound foundation for science. It doesn't matter whether those priests spoke Sanskrit or Hebrew, since their ideas are the product of revealed 'knowledge' rather than critical, evidence-based research, they don't belong in a public school classroom.

Heck, what am I saying? It's just another idea, right? Let's teach the controversy and allow orthodox Hindu supremacists to battle it out with fundamentalist Christian dominionists in front of sixth graders. It should be exciting and enlightening.

(via Butterflies and Wheels)