“If you’re teaching something, then a student could question that and say, you know, ‘How do you know that’s true?’ And so the teacher would have to come up with different sources, ‘This is why I think this is true,’” Kruse says. Terre Haute Democratic Senator Tim Skinner says Kruse’s proposal is not something that needs to be mandated…. “If Senator Kruse had education experience he would know that students across the country are already doing that every day in the public school classroom,” Skinner says. “They question everything, and I think a teacher who’s actually doing their job will answer those questions.”
I have no problem with the idea of believing in creationism. If you’re a Christian and your faith leads you to believe that God created the Earth in six days and then took the seventh off to relax and knock back a few cold ones, then good on you. (Full disclosure: I don’t believe in God or creationism. I know; shocking, huh??)
Where I draw the line is with politicians from the Rabid Religious Right who believe that their faith ipso facto conveys upon them the divine right to subvert the separation of Church and State…or in this case, the separation of Church and Science.
There are plenty of places where children can ask all the questions they want about creationism and challenge the dominant paradigm if they so choose. They’re called churches, which are private entities not funded by taxpayers (if you look past the tax-exempt status of most churches). Schools, particularly when it comes to science are about the empirical- the provable and the demonstrable (NOT religious dogma requiring a leap of faith because there’s no proof to back it up). The problems begin when lawmakers like Sen. Kruse take it upon themselves to create a legislative end run around the separation of Church and State in order to turn public schools into (proselytizing) arms of Christian churches.
Can you imagine the hue and cry, the weeping and gnashing of teeth that would occur if a Muslim or Sikh politician tried a similar maneuver. The self-righteous indignation would be sufficient to power a small village. “How DARE they interject their religion into our schools!” would be the rallying cry from sea to shining sea. (I know; how DARE they…that’s the purview of fundies, right?)
Kruse’s bill is similar to a Tennessee bill that was passed in April, which encourages students to question teachers on science and protects teachers from retribution if they choose to teach creationism. His former legislation was killed in the House, as House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-IN) believed it would result in costly legal battles. The creationist movement suffered a defeat in the courts last week, when a Louisiana judge decreed that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R-LA) program to give huge sums of taxpayer dollars to religious private schools that teach anti-evolution theories was unconstitutional.
Of course, my opposition to what Kruse is trying to accomplish is predicated on my strong belief in the separation of Church and State…as well as my belief in science and empirical reality being superior to religious faith. This isn’t meant to denigrate the place and value of either religion or faith, merely that neither belongs in our PUBLIC (i.e.- taxpayer-funded) schools.
If you neither believe in nor respect the separation of Church and State, then our public schools are fair game to be turned into a taxpayer-funded opportunity to spread the Gospel. Hmm…so many fundies object to what they (incorrectly and hypocritically) view as “oppression” by non-Christians (pro tip: You can’t be an oppressed majority), yet they see no problem when they are the ones doing the “oppressing.”
Thankfully, courts are beginning to come down on the side of the argument that forcing Christian dogma to be taught in public schools is unconstitutional. Though fundies like Kruse will never admit it, the separation of Church and State means that schools are for learning, not proselytizing.
That’s what churches are for.