Thursday, February 17, 2005

Bible Belt

I really don't want to use much of this space for political or social commentary, but since I raised the subject of Weekly Religious Education in my community some time ago, I thought it would be appropriate to mention an interesting article in Slate on Wednesday, February 16, entitled Bible Belt Upside the Head, reporting on the decision this week by our local (Staunton, VA) school board to retain WRE, but with a modification that the kids who opt out (whose parents opt them out, that is) must be provided a way to occupy their time more usefully while their classmates are out getting their Christian indoctrination. The board's decision was pragmatic, if uncourageous.

The Slate article nicely sums up why the arguments in favor of the program are baloney:
  • it's constitutional--in fact, it isn't clear that the Supreme Court precedent really would protect this program, particularly in light of more recent cases and the current makeup of the court;
  • it's religious persecution to prohibit it--now a favorite argument of the Christian right, the fact is that adhering to the principle of religious neutrality is the height of NON-persecution, of Christians and everyone else;
  • the majority want it--except that the "constitution is subject to neither majority rule nor to popular recall [of elected officials." Slate goes on: "programs can be popular and still be unconstitutional."
  • it's nondenominational--well, no it's not; it's Christian, and furthermore it's Protestant;
  • it's noncoercive--this is the one that the conservatives just don't get, because they are just incapable of seeing any issue from anyone else's perspective; "it's naive to believe that indoctrination [of one group] doesn't affect the outsiders."


Note: This post is closed to further comment because of inappropriate anonymous remarks. To "Anonymous"--either summon the courage to sign your name to your comments or feel free to start your own blog.