"A Stunning Roundhouse Kick to the Separation of Church and State"

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P.J. Tobia at the Nashville Scene reports on the Chuck Norris-endorsed National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which is close to convincing one Tennessee district to start including Bible classes. The organization (Norris aside) is by all appearences a fount of kookdom.

On the NCBCPS's website, there's a link to Baugh's Creation Evidence Museum, which seeks to prove that the earth is a mere 6,000 years old and that man and dinosaurs lived side by side. On the website, Baugh's "scientific" data share space with Bible passages and his poems about the beauty of the Christian God. Also available is a book that Baugh co-wrote called September 11 is in the Bible Code, arguing that the Bible predicted the 9/11 terror attacks. Baugh is also trying to create something called a "Hyperbaric Biosphere" chamber in an attempt to test Biblical claims about the great flood of Genesis.

Elective Bible classes are sometimes seen as an acceptable breach of church-state separation. Who doesn't want their kid to grok the prime document of Western Civilization? But it's worth considering who's pushing this from school district to school district.

UPDATE: Somehow I missed this: Chuck Norris's virgin World Net Daily column.

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  1. Let’s cut to the chase.

    Yes, there are legitimate secular reasons for including the study of the Bible in school.

    No, you cannot use public funding for Bible study if you are doing so primarily to advance a religious agenda.

    Yes, the Adam, Eve, and Dino people are pushing this primarily for a religious purpose.

    No, making noise about secular purposes will not make religiously-motivated Bible classes Constitutional if they are merely a pretext.

    Yes, the NCBCPS are going to make pretextual arguments about their purposes.

    No, it isn’t going to stand up in court.

  2. Sheesh, what do you mean ‘aside from Norris they’re kooks’??? I could maybe buy ‘compared to Norris’ but even then, pot-kettle-black. Or perhaps fuligin… The man’s a raving loon with the IQ of a stupid rock.

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

  3. If Jack Bauer lost his edge he’d change his name to Chuck Norris.

  4. On a more serious note, I hope Jennifer comes to this thread. A while ago she told a story about how some parents got upset when she was teaching about a Shakespeare play and explained the meaning of a Biblical allusion. The parents were Christians, and they were upset because she didn’t share their interpretation, even though she was just explaining the allusion as it related to the play and the common interpretation at the time that Shakespeare wrote it.

  5. Heh, heh. What a great opportunity for wiseguys and gals to poke fun at all the horrific and ludicrous things that the Old Testament God does.
    A real open forum on the Bible with views the
    religious kiddies aren’t likely to hear in Sunday School! I predict this program will create more atheists and agnostics than Madalyn Murray O’Hair ever dreamed about.

  6. Chuck Norris is so dense, his tidal forces crush your skull before he can kick you.

  7. Add Chuck Norris to the list of people who need a punch in the dick.

  8. Chuck Norris is so stupid he drains his opponent?s defensive knowledge, making his attacks even more lethal.

  9. So what will happen if a kid in that class challenges the validity of the text? What is the teacher to say?

    You can’t bring the in bible without the bringing the religion. To claim that the bible is just a bunch of stories is a sin against god. So would the teacher treat the kid as if he was in Sunday school?

    I have been puzzled by the willingness of Christians to allow their beliefs to be “secularized” in order to have them taught in the secular world. They are willing to reduce creationism from “work of the one and only God” to “some unknown being” just to get it taught in public schools. Which, by the first commandment, is a sin. To teach the bible is something other than the “word of God” is to deny God’s word. How would this promote Christian values? It most likely would not. It would promote the idea that God is not needed when learning about the bible.

  10. Lamar broke his hand punching Chuck Norris’s dick.

  11. A loving, omnipotent God would not have let Sidekicks or Delta Force III get the greenlight.

  12. Chuck Norris is a thumb-sucking, pillow-humping, nancy boy. I’ll tell him that to his face.

  13. The notion that the earth is 6,000 years old is absurd. The universe came into existence on the night of June 4th, 1951, at 10:02 p.m.

  14. You can’t bring the in bible without the bringing the religion. To claim that the bible is just a bunch of stories is a sin against god. So would the teacher treat the kid as if he was in Sunday school?

    I don’t think that’s true, Vic. I took a course in Christianity in college, when we studied sections of the Bible and discussed what different sects believe about them. I did the same in a course on Judaism, and with the Koran in a course on Islam. And really, it’s no different that studying Greco-Roman mythology, or Egyptian myths. Admittedly you need a teacher who isn’t a prosletyzer, but it is possible.

  15. There was a man whose tears could cure cancer or any other disease, including the real cause of all diseases ? sin. His blood did. His name was Jesus, not Chuck Norris.

    That gave me what will probably be the hardest laugh I’ll have all week. There’s no need to even parody that; it comes pre-satirized.

  16. Sage is Jack Bauer. That’s how he can so cavalierly dismiss Norris.

  17. I’m so glad Chuck Norris has saved us biologists from wasting any more time studying evolution.

    what a pluperfect asshole, along with all the conservatives who dismiss liberal ideology coming from Hollywood stars as “the ravings of a Hollywood liberal”

    apparently, the ravings of Hollywood conservatives like Mel Gibson and Chuck Norris are A-OK, though

  18. Hi there, Thoreau. Here’s the story you were referring to: my third and last year of teaching, I had to teach “Merchant of Venice.” There’s a scene early in the play where a character is insulting another another character off-stage, along the lines of “he damns the ears of all who hear him, for they call him a fool.”

    When a student asked me what that meant, I explained it was a reference to something Jesus said in the book of Matthew; after the Sermon on the Mount he also said “but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” [Matthew 5:22, King James version]

    I discussed some other uses of the “don’t say fool” idea in literature; Voltaire wrote an essay where an angel appears to a certain priest Voltaire couldn’t stand and says “stop writing your boring stupid pamphlets because you’re not winning souls for God. You’re damning all of France, because everyone who reads your dreck starts shouting ‘Fool!'”

    I also explained that this is why melodramatic cartoon villains always used “fool!” as their standard insult, because that would be significant to a Biblically literate audience: not only is this evil guy trying to blow up and enslave the world, but he goes out of his way to use the ONE insult Jesus expressly forbade!

    So in Shakespeare’s time, I told the class, it was highly unlikely you’d hear someone calling another a fool, but it was considered witty and humorous to say “You’re a total–well, I can’t say what you are, because then I’d go to hell.” Shakespeare was making a joke in the play.

    The next day my principal called me into his office. Apparently a parents or parents (I never learned who) got upset to learn that I told their children such horrible things: surely, savior Jesus meek-n-mild would never say anything so harsh as to damn a guy to hell just for saying a word!

    “But he said that,” I said. “At least according to the New Testament.”

    “Doesn’t matter,” the principal said. “You can’t go around insulting kids’ religions.”

    “Well, the kid asked me what Shakespeare was talking about in the play! What was I supposed to do?”

    “Just tell him you don’t know.”

    I don’t think Bible classes belong in public schools, but if the curriculum covers works of literature which contain Biblical allusions (and they all do), I damn sure think the teacher should be allowed to explain what that allusion means.

  19. Chuck Norris is so holy that the radiant light of god shining from his face will blast sage to atoms.

  20. Creationist thinking:

    The biologists are wrong.
    The physicists are wrong.
    The archeologists are wrong.
    The astronomers are wrong.
    The geneticists are wrong.
    The geologists are wrong.

    Some superstitious goat herder 3000 years ago? Yeah, he got it right.

  21. “…seeks to prove that the earth is a mere 6,000 years old and that man and dinosaurs lived side by side.”

    And this evidence would be… the Flintstones Christmas Special?

  22. joe, I generally agree with your points. But I wish there was some way that Bible/Judeo-Christian studies could be included in public school curriculum for those legitimate secular reasons without causing all kinds of controversey.
    I grew up pretty non-religious, but nominally Christian. My family celebrated Xmas and Easter, but to me they were all about Santa and the Bunny. We never went to church. And I feel like I kind of missed out to some extent — not spiritually, necessarily, but educationally.

    David W.,”Who doesn’t want their kid to grok the prime document of Western Civilization?”
    Exactly. But it seems a lot of parents don’t see it that way. They see any discussion of religion in an educational setting as indoctrination. And a lot of the ones who do want it discussed are indeed looking to indoctrinate. So schools avoid the topic altogether rather than cause controversey.
    I think this was to my detriment, and it’s still to lots of kids’ detriment. Understanding the West’s culture, history, institutions, and ideas clearly requires some understanding of the Bible and of the history of Judeo-Christian thought. Can’t this be done without turning teacher into preacher? Class into mass?

  23. Wow, good story. Almost Mock_the_stupid-worthy.

  24. Can’t this be done without turning teacher into preacher? Class into mass?

    Not under our current system, where the rule is, “If ONE parent gets offended enough to compalin to the administration, the teacher gets in trouble.” What you’d need to do is grant teachers special immunity: non-Christians can’t whine if the teacher discusses the Bible stuff which makes God and Jesus sound like swell guys, and Christians can’t whine if the teacher discusses the Bible stuff which makes God and Jesus sound like intolerant assholes.

  25. Some superstitious goat herder 3000 years ago? Yeah, he got it right.

    Actually, given that the first two chapters of Genesis were written in highly figurative language, what we should really say is:

    “Some translator who either couldn’t convey or couldn’t understand the original meaning of the text? Yeah, he got it right.”

  26. Well this goes a long way towards explaining why Stephen Jay Gould is no longer with us.

  27. “What you’d need to do is grant teachers special immunity: non-Christians can’t whine if the teacher discusses the Bible stuff which makes God and Jesus sound like swell guys, and Christians can’t whine if the teacher discusses the Bible stuff which makes God and Jesus sound like intolerant assholes.”

    How about this idea Jennifer? How about parents teaching their children to think for themselves and not panicking every time Junior is exposed to an opinion? I think if I am so weak and stupid that I allow my child to convert to Jehovah Witness because his teacher told him to at school, what is going on at school is the least mine and Junior’s problems. Seriously, what is the big deal if a believer is teaching any religion? Teach your kid to think for themselves and tell the guy he is full of crap. But, God forbid anyone be expected to have the strength of character to be exposed to something new or something which “makes them uncomfortable.” UGH!!

  28. How about this idea Jennifer? How about parents teaching their children to think for themselves and not panicking every time Junior is exposed to an opinion?

    Sounds lovely, but my own experience as a teacher shows that this idea is currently considered un-American, which is why I got in trouble for explaining a Biblical allusion in a Shakespeare play that was on the curriculum. (And bear in mind the kids were not exposed to an “opinion” but to a fact–the “fool” comment really is in the Bible and attributed to Jesus, Shakespeare really did allude to this comment in Merchant of Venice, and other authors really did allude to it in their own respective works. Nonetheless, I got in trouble because some devout Christians found their faith threatened by exposure to what’s actually in the Bible.)

  29. Punching that sucker damn near broke my back!

  30. Seriously, what is the big deal if a believer is teaching any religion? Teach your kid to think for themselves and tell the guy he is full of crap.

    So if your kid went to public school and the teacher was a devout Muslim who said things like “all women must wear burkas and America must convert to Islam or die in Allah’s holy fire” you wouldn’t have a problem with that? I doubt it.

    When I discussed Bible verses in my class, I was always careful to start with a caveat along the lines of “I am not saying this is what you should believe; I’m saying this is what people believed when this story was written.” I didn’t get in trouble when I taught “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” but “Merchant of Venice” totally kicked my ass.

  31. Jennifer,

    Well, it’s all about “exposure.” Isn’t that what education is? Basically you got in trouble for doing your job, which is insane. What is the point of education other than to have the world “exposed” to you?
    How can you learn about history or literature without being exposed to ideas? I remember learning about The Soviet Union at some point in high school. Obviously, to do so required some discussion of Marx and Lenin and their ideas. Could an anti-communist parent complain that this constituted turning their kids into pinkos? Or, similar to your case, could a Marxist parent complain that they didn’t like the way the teacher was “interpreting” their reading of Marx?
    It seems like the serious and educative discussion of anything could be stifled in this manner.

  32. “So if your kid went to public school and the teacher was a devout Muslim who said things like “all women must wear burkas and America must convert to Islam or die in Allah’s holy fire” you wouldn’t have a problem with that? I doubt it.”

    Yes, I would have a problem, but the problem is with the monopoly school system not with the guy teaching that women should be in burkas. If that is what he believes, we have a first amendment and as long as he doesn’t advocate violence, he should be able to say it, classroom or not. I as a parrent should be free to send my kid to another school. The problem of course is that I am not free to send my kid to another school because the government takes my tax money and forces me to go to the designated public school if I want any value for it.

  33. The more I think about it Jennifer, maybe I wouldn’t have such a problem with the teacher you mention. If he was a serious person and presented the view in a serious way. Saying, this is what I and others believe the Koran says and here why. I might not have a problem. Yes, I would tell my kid, his teacher is a nutcase. But, as long as the teacher didn’t advocate violence, perhaps the kid would learn something. If nothing else he or she would learn that there are some really cracked people in the world with some really crazy views. My guess is that the child would probably learn more from the Taliban teacher in your example than he would from some the PC BS “Islam is Peace” “All cultures are equal” crap being put out by most public schools these days.

  34. I took at class called “The Bible as Literature” in highschool in the early 80’s. There was a good deal of comparitive literature reviewed (Koran, Bgita, etc…) and the discussions were similar to those that were had discussing “The Scarlet Letter.”

    We also had a classed called “mythology” which covered some of the same texts (the bible, Dine’ creation myths, Hindu texts, greek mythology). Religion as topic is not any more of a problem from the standpoint of the first than any other topic. It is all in the execution. Establishing a religion is different than discussing it.

    A few years later, while working as a mid-school teacher, I had parents successfully intimidate the school into cancelling an activity whereby an author was to speak to our class. The kids had written her fan mail because they loved her book so much, and had asked her to come talk to the class. She had agreed. The event was cancelled because her book was about “ghosts” and, obviously, was attempting to sway the children to satanism. The kids were very hurt by the actions of the adults.

    It is far more of a problem when groups try to restrict what can be discussed than when they try and introduce topics into the discussion.

    As for Jennifer’s incident. I am pretty sure that if push came to shove, she would admit that she didn’t “get in trouble.” She just had the principal explain the problems that her actions had created for him. I am guessing that s/he would never have fired, reprimanded, suspended, or otherwise punished her for doing her job.

  35. ” I am guessing that s/he would never have fired, reprimanded, suspended, or otherwise punished her for doing her job.” – Neu

    That’s a heck of a guess. Considering that kids get kicked out of school under “zero tolerance for weapons” insanity that includes kids bringing a toy, plastic gun for a GI Joe character smaller than the size of the first digit of your index finger, I’m inclined to think that if Jennifer had made a principled argument and explained that she’d do the same thing again, she’d probably be looking for a new job.

    Over to you, Jennifer…

  36. I saw a neato pair of bumper stickers yesterday:
    Left sticker said “Church.”
    Right sticker said “State.”

  37. Well, it’s all about “exposure.” Isn’t that what education is? Basically you got in trouble for doing your job, which is insane. What is the point of education other than to have the world “exposed” to you?

    When I first started posting here, the wound from my leaving teaching was still pretty raw and I posted a LOT of infuriated anecdotes about my teaching experiences. (Who knows? If not for the insanity I saw in the public school, maybe I wouldn’t be a libertarian today.)

    I’m trying to figure out the problem without letting my own opinion color my viewpoint, and I think it has something to do with this: since kids are effectively required by law to attend these schools, I agree that they shouldn’t be used for proselytizing. But there’s a fine line between explaining what others believe and explaining what you should believe: it’s the difference between saying “Jesus is the son of God” versus “Christians believe Jesus is the son of God.” Problem is, that line has vanished.

    We’ve already got “zero tolerance” drug policies which require schools to officially ignore common-sense lines and pretend that all drugs and all drug users are equal, so an honor student who takes Midol to make her cramps go away should be viewed the same way as a heroin addict who steals to support his habit: expel them both. And I think the “zero tolerance” philosophy has extended to opinions as well: since we’re already pretending that aspirin users and heroin users are identical, let’s also pretend that anything inherently offensive is identical to anything which someone chooses to view as offensive. That’s why in some school districts, a teacher who discusses the use of the word “nigger” in Huckleberry Finn is viewed no differently than a teacher who says “all black people are niggers. Join the KKK.”

    James Morrow wrote a dark satire called “Only Begotten Daughter,” where we learn that every human who ever lived (except for Elijah and Jesus) is in Hell, because if there’s even one person on Earth who thinks you should go to hell, you go there when you die. There’s a similar idea infecting public education these days: if even one person is offended by what a teacher says, then what that teacher says is clearly offensive.

  38. That Chuck Norris piece is fuckin silliness. Chuck obviously doesn’t realize that all those “Chuck Norris Rules” are tongue-in-cheek, playing off the b-movie campiness of everything he does, whether it be Walker or some terrible action movie. He thinks these kids actually admire him. So sad. Chuck, they’re making fun of you! Someone let this retard in on the joke.

    “But here’s what I really think about the theory of evolution: It’s not real. It is not the way we got here. In fact, the life you see on this planet is really just a list of creatures God has allowed to live. We are not creations of random chance. We are not accidents. There is a God, a Creator, who made you and me. We were made in His image, which separates us from all other creatures.”

    A list of creatures god allowed to live? God’s got a pretty fucking sick-ass sense of humor, then. How does God make these choices? How do you get into the club? Is it like a fraternity? Well, then, the president must be the goddamned cockroach, because he’s slated to survive much longer than we are. And by the way, Chuck, HE was created in OUR image.

    “By the way, without him, I don’t have any power. But with Him, the Bible tells me, I really can do all things ? and so can you.”

    The bible tells you? The bible also tells you to stone your children to death if they disobey you. Call me a novice in the whole “understanding theists” arena, but I just don’t get how, if it’s “god’s word”, you get to choose which parts of it to pay attention to, and which to ignore. That’s a buncha garbage. If I were god, and you assholes invoked my name and my “word” for all these things, but then conveniently ignored the vast majority of my “word”, I’d be pretty goddamned pissed off. See all that violent rape and killing in the OT? You gotta live by THAT too, motherfuckers.

    /obligatory chuck norris rant

  39. This perfectly illustrates the problems with a public school system in the first place. Education, facts, and the world around us are laden with value judgments. Value judgments cannot be separated from the content. So, what we end up with are hidden or supressed value judgments, value judgments acceptable to the majority, and value judgments that have the appearance of neutrality, while actually taking a position.

  40. I posted before I saw Rob’s comment. He and I both drew a connection with zero tolerance.

    As for Jennifer’s incident. I am pretty sure that if push came to shove, she would admit that she didn’t “get in trouble.” She just had the principal explain the problems that her actions had created for him. I am guessing that s/he would never have fired, reprimanded, suspended, or otherwise punished her for doing her job.

    You guessed wrong. Technically I was not fired, but my contract wasn’t renewed.

  41. Jennifer,

    “You guessed wrong. Technically I was not fired, but my contract wasn’t renewed.”

    And you are sure that this was because of this incident? Was it communicated to you that you were not rehired because of the trouble you had caused?

    You’d have a great case against the district if that was how it went down.

  42. rob,

    “heck of a guess”

    After almost 2 decades in education, I would say that this would be an exceptional incident even in today’s “zero tolerance” climate. Good teachers are too hard to find for school’s to get rid of them over this type of incident. It happens, but it is rare.

  43. The problem with allowing a bible class in a very/mostly fundie christian society is that you’ve got a pretty good chance that the person teaching it WILL be a fundie and WILL want to “convert” the students.

    One thing about being a teacher, it’s pretty easy to see why some kids are such jerks when you meet the parents.

  44. And you are sure that this was because of this incident? Was it communicated to you that you were not rehired because of the trouble you had caused?

    I was let go after the end of my third year. The rule was, after three years teachers had to either get tenure or be fired. Before getting tenure teachers work on an at-will basis, and the principal can let them go for any reason or no reason (provided it’s not race, gender, or any other officially protected status).

    I was never once written up during my three years, and I had good evaluations until the very last one when I was told my contract wouldn’t be renewed. In that evaluation, I got the highest possile scores for objective things–I knew my subject matter, I knew how to communicate it to students, I was available for after-school help when students needed it–but I got the lowest possible scores for subjective things, like “respecting student diversity” or “respecting parents’ opinions.” (These aren’t exact quotes; I don’t remember the exact wording.)

    The union president said there was nothing she could do; since I didn’t have tenure, I had no recourse unless I could prove I was fired for my gender, race or religion. And I wasn’t; I was basically fired because the principal and some parents didn’t like me. (True fact: during my second year the principal said I was always unprepared. This astonished me, since my direct supervisor said I was the most-prepared of all English teachers: I always had my tests and lesson plans done well in advance, for example. However, I am a very short woman who’s had a lot of very tall boyfriends, so I tend to walk at a quicker pace than most women my size. The principal thought I was always in a hurry to get something done because of the way I always, quote, “scurried” through the hallways. Brilliant example of the psychological phenomenon that once you have decided a person demonstrates trait X, everything that person says or does will be interpreted as further proof of X. The principal already decided I was a lousy teacher, so the fact that I walk at a quick pace further demonstrates that.)

    Also, when I was let go the principal did mention how many times parents had complained about me. No specific incident was brought up, but the Merchant of Venice lecture was neither the first nor the last time a parent complained for a bullshit reason.

    Some parents and students liked me a great deal, but that wasn’t enough to save my job. Every once in awhile I’ll still get an e-mail from a former student thanking me for this or that. Doesn’t matter. I let my teaching license expire and will never attempt to get a teaching job again.

  45. The smarter half is a kickass genetic engineer. She has 25 people reporting to her (besides me) She also got a wicked sense of humour. The Co. approves of “team building exercises” AKA a paid day off. This year she rounded up all her Igors, made them wash thier hands, and off they went to the Lakeside Creationism Museum. I tagged along.
    Holy friggin moly! 26 microbiologists, inc a half doz PhD’s, not to mention my own skeptical, autodidactic ass.
    These creationists go to very great lengths to try to string this nit wittery together. Scary aspect- like any museum, it was filled with grade schoolers on field trips.
    VERY catchy layout. the dinosaurs in the Ark cutaway were interesting. How the Grand Canyon was formed in a few years was knee slapping funny.
    You REALLY have to be desperate to swallow this idiocy…..I left wondering “why are these people so desperate”?
    I know teaching is a damn tough row a lot of the time.
    Too bad little kids still dont get the benefit of Jennifers wisdom……

  46. Good teachers are too hard to find for school’s to get rid of them over this type of incident. It happens, but it is rare.

    But how do you define “good teacher?” Is it someone who knows her subject and has a knack for expressing it to her students? Then I was a good teacher; when the principal fired me he even told me so, and mentioned all the high-ranking people (other than himself) who’d write me glowing recommendations. (And they did.) But I was a “bad teacher” in the sense that I occasionally said things that someone might possibly, theoretically, hypothetically find offensive. Like explaining the Biblical meaning of a Shakespeare joke.

    I have to get off the Net for awhile and do my actual job for today. I’ll check this thread later, though.

  47. I was also a good teacher. I left because even good teachers get paid crap. Schools are the absolute worst mix of bureacratic inefficiency. They fear litigation like it’ll kill them, yet actually firing a teacher can take years. I know that it has a lot to do with a low-incentive gov’t bureacracy. However, I think more importantly, our education system is what results when you pay people like crap. If you have a smart teacher, they are smart enough to get out.

  48. Lamar,

    I think it’s the bureaucracy, and politics that ruin education more that the salary. Teachers in my area are paid pretty well, especially some of the longer term ones, but the school are plagued with the same problems.

  49. Re Chuck Norris’s column:

    I bet you always wanted to know what Chuck thought about Darwin: “Here’s what I really think about the theory of evolution: It’s not real. It is not the way we got here. In fact, the life you see on this planet is really just a list of creatures God has allowed to live.”

    Understand that here, “God” actually refers to “Chuck Norris.”

  50. David,

    Its the old ice cream question, chocolate vs vanilla. For me, I’ll be leaving my teaching position at the end of this year, in spite of a two year reappoinment offering, because of the bureaucracy and politics leading to my crap salary.

    Lamar,
    “If you have a smart teacher, they are smart enough to get out.”

    Bingo.

  51. David,
    I still stand by you can’t teach the bible without religion. The book is a religious book no matter how you frame it. Having said that, from a secular point of view, we can say that the religion part is irrelevent while learning about the bible. Religon is still present, but with less or no importance.

    However, If your a Christian, you should have a big problem with it that. It entertains the concept that the belief of God is not necessary when learning about the bible. No real Christian could ever agree to that.

    The same thing applies to Intelligent Design. It is a sin for a Christian to believe that a being other than the “one God” created man. That’s a violation of the first commandment.

    Christians should be aware of what they endorse.

  52. Are catholics considered christians? I ask because I was taught by Jesuits that most of the old testament was allegory, that eden, the flood, and assorted miracles all stood for something else, and only the ignorant thought that the bible was the specific word of God.

    This is the official position of the catholic church.

    It caused a lot of strife in class with kids that didn’t want to either accept that or at least pay lip service to it to pass the class.

  53. “After almost 2 decades in education, I would say that this would be an exceptional incident even in today’s ‘zero tolerance’ climate. Good teachers are too hard to find for school’s to get rid of them over this type of incident. It happens, but it is rare.” – Neu

    2 decades of experience and you still guessed wrong? Weren’t you paying attention? Heh… Sorry… Couldn’t resist.

    After my 2.5 decades as a student, I will say that in my experience the reason good teachers are rare is because – like what happened with Jennifer – good teachers are actually weeded out. Of the 3 public school teachers that I think of as “great teachers I actually learned something from” there are ZERO left still teaching.

    Of the 4 college instructors that I thought were amazing, ZERO are still teaching. Of those four only ONE is not working elsewhere, and that’s because he died of cancer.

    In other words, as far as personal experience in the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educational system goes, my experience runs counter to yours.

    But hey, your opinion is the one that counts. You’re on the inside of the system, I was just one of the hoi polloi the system was supposed to educate!

    Good thing I’m an auto-didact…

  54. It entertains the concept that the belief of God is not necessary when learning about the bible.

    I can and have read the Bible, and have no belief in God.

  55. We also had a classed called “mythology” which covered some of the same texts (the bible, Dine’ creation myths, Hindu texts, greek mythology). Religion as topic is not any more of a problem from the standpoint of the first than any other topic. It is all in the execution. Establishing a religion is different than discussing it.

    But suppose there were still a number of Americans who believed the Greek myths? Then you’d have teachers getting in trouble after devout Zeusian parents complained: how dare you show photographs of Mount Olympus topped by ice and snow rather than the palaces of the gods! And you’d have other parents who were non-believers and got upset that Zeus was mentioned at all. And still more believers who are furious because Zeus is a good, decent god who would NEVER disguise himself as a swan or a shower of gold so he could have sex with a human woman, and how DARE you pay attention to those parts of our religion which suggest he’s actually done such things?

  56. Jennifer, Zeus could have sex with human women without changing form. It was Hera that made his alterations necessary.

    Please, have more respect for the Olympians.

  57. And blowing away all this poppycock on the idea that the earth is billions of years old or that we came from apes which came from a leamer which came froma lizard that came from a amphibian which came froma fish which came froma ameba what a bunch of tommy rot evolution is

  58. “””I can and have read the Bible, and have no belief in God.””””

    David, Sure, but if your going to quote me, at least do it in the same context for which I wrote.

    “””It entertains the concept that the belief of God is not necessary when learning about the bible. No real Christian could ever agree to that.”””

    I never said a secular had to believe. Seculars are not bound by religion when reading religious text.

    I don’t call myself a Christian either. I was raised Southern Baptist and I grew up in the Bible belt. I’m merely pointing out the violations of their own beliefs when they try to put their religion in secular institutions.

  59. My apologies, Vic. I misinterpreted you. I still think that most Christians can accept other people learning about the Bible in a secular context.

  60. UPDATE: Somehow I missed this: Chuck Norris’s virgin World Net Daily column.

    Chuck Norris was never a virgin. As a zygote, he immediately went to a hooker.

  61. Wally:

    While there is plenty of scientific evidence in favor of evolution, I have yet to see any evidence that you’re anything other than a moronic troll. Learn to write a coherent sentence and make a legitimate point or take it somewhere else.

  62. JsubD

    The biologists are wrong…

    Funniest thing I read all week. Well said, sir!

  63. But suppose there were still a number of Americans who believed the Greek myths?

    LOL! Jennifer always comes up with the best analogies. That’s outstanding.

    Damn, what’s our next black-is-white foolishness? “Midol = crack”. “Little kids hugging = inappropriate touching”. Maybe we’ve already got our next delusion in “sodas at school = fat kids”.

    I keep waiting for someone to say, “HA! That make-believe stuff was kinda fun there for a while, wasn’t it? Look how crazy we got people to act!! But, ok, time to get back to reality now”.

  64. Jennifer,

    Sounds like you had a twit for a principal. Too bad.

    “But suppose there were still a number of Americans who believed the Greek myths?”

    Well the class covered many mythologies that were actively adhered to in the student population at the time (Judeo-Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Dine’). It was an elective from at least 1979-1985 (my little brother took it). As a student, I had no way of knowing if the teacher/principal had to deal with complaints from parents. I have no idea if it is still offered.

    Rob,
    “In other words, as far as personal experience in the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educational system goes, my experience runs counter to yours….But hey, your opinion is the one that counts. You’re on the inside of the system, I was just one of the hoi polloi the system was supposed to educate!”

    Well rob, experience as a student is hardly experience of public-school-as-work-place (I’ve got around 30 yrs experience as student), but there you go.

    I, of course, can comment with confidence on all matters involving the hiring/firing patterns of television networks cuz I have over 4 decades of experience watching TV.

    I’ll stick with my assessment that it is rare for good teachers to be let go based solely a few parental complaints about curriculum. HS English teachers are, however, the most easily replaced species of teacher, so that should certainly be factored in. And some prinipals are incompetent twits, so factor that in, and add in a dash of the unusually influential parent potential(school board, perhaps) and it does happen.

  65. “Good thing I’m an auto-didact…”

    And so are we all, as any good teacher knows.

  66. Neu – Actually, all I was calling attention to was the fact that your 30 years as a student and 20 years as an educatordoesn’t really make your anecdotal evidence any better than my 25 as a student. In fact, it lead you to make the wrong assumption about Jennifer’s situation.

    You can continue to stick to your assessment, but anecdotally on this thread you’ve been 100% wrong. I think that’s probably an “F” on this particular assignment.

    On a serious non-spitball throwing note, I think you’re probably right that most teachers don’t get fired – even if they deserve it.

    While I’ve never worked as a teacher, I certainly have had plenty of experience with the institution of public education and with teachers and their varying degrees of talent and work ethic.

    From that experience I can report that the few teachers I actually learned from (and realize that I share the blame for this, because I was not always an ideal student), whose enthusiasm for the subject matter was infectious, and whose intellect I admired, are uniformly in other occupational fields. With one notably sad exception.

  67. HS English teachers are, however, the most easily replaced species of teacher

    Wrong again–in my state, at any rate, English was a “core” class; it was not only required of all students, but it was the only class students were required to take every year. So there’s a shortage of English teachers, particularly with Master’s degrees.

    By the way, you also missed my point about the Greek myths.

  68. Jennifer,

    Sorry, but in fact you are wrong (my statement was a relative one, not an absolute)…

    English teachers (nationwide) are more abundent than teachers of other subjects (actually these days the easiest to find are social studies, PE, and English). Compared to math, science, or special education teachers (for instance), English teachers are no problem to replace. Even if your state has a shortage of English teachers…they are still relatively easy positions to fill compared to other subjects.

    As for the Greek myth point…I think it was you who missed your point ;^)

    rob,
    Yes, indeed anecdotal evidence is the weakest form of evidence. It is an astoudingly brilliant point that raises my respect for you greatly. You have taught yourself well (eyes rolling).

    I will point out that there has been nothing presented about Jennifer’s situation that would indicate that I was “100% wrong.” Read back through her account again. Read what I claimed. See if they are 100% at odds. And ask yourself if you have the information needed to make that judgement.

  69. “Yes, indeed anecdotal evidence is the weakest form of evidence. It is an astoudingly brilliant point that raises my respect for you greatly. You have taught yourself well (eyes rolling).” -Neu

    Just because you missed my point, you roll your eyes at me? I’m sure that’s a great teaching technique as well.

    Jennifer was essentially fired. You said you didn’t think this would be the outcome. There is, admittedly, some wiggle room there…

    But that’s a bit like arguing that your answer to a simple math question isn’t wrong because there are areas of higher math that call certain mathematic principles into question.

  70. “””My apologies, Vic. I misinterpreted you. I still think that most Christians can accept other people learning about the Bible in a secular context””””

    Hey, no problem. These messages are ripe for misinterpretation as someone on H&R pointed out.

  71. So basically, NM is saying: Jennifer certainly didn’t get in trouble for her Shakespeare lecture or anything like it. Even if she did, well, it’s only because she was an English teacher. Even though there’s a shortage of English teachers in her state, that still doesn’t matter because she wasn’t a math or science teacher. Furthermore, we can assume Jennifer was the ONLY good teacher who ever lost her job for ridiculous reasons. Also, Rob’s good teachers all leaving the profession does not in any way reflect upon modern public education. Nothing Jennifer or Rob says should be considered indicative of modern education; only MY anecdotes are (despite the fact that said anecdotes led me to a series of wrong conclusions throughout this thread).

    Even if your state has a shortage of English teachers…they are still relatively easy positions to fill compared to other subjects.

    Apparently you do not know what the word “shortage” means.

  72. rob & jennifer,

    We clearly have a case of failure to communicate.

    So I’ll put in the last nit pick.

    Jennifer’s account is an anecdote that is clearly one-sided and one in which she has a stake. It does not provide me with enough information to judge the reason she was not rehired. I have no reason not to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I have no way of knowing why her principal actually made the decision not to rehire. Her own account of the situation says that “the principal did mention how many times parents had complained about me” and that she “got the lowest possible scores for subjective things, like “respecting student diversity” or “respecting parents’ opinions.”

    Because I have been involved in a good bit of hiring and firing of teachers, I could read that as saying that the principal saw (or claimed) a pattern of complaints, and a pattern of responses to those complaints. It is more likely the responses to those complaints that was at issue than the fact that they were made. She might have been piss poor at handling parental complaints. I don’t have enough information to know if that reading would be correct. I can speculate, however, which is all I have done here.

    If Jennifer’s reading of the situation is that she did nothing wrong and it was the parents who had complained “for a bullshit reason,” it is possible that she failed at the part of the job involved in communicating with parents and that led to her not being rehired. But who knows the truth? Only the guy who decided not to rehire her.

    Neither rob nor I nor Jennifer has enough information about the principal’s decision-making process to know the answer to the basic question of why Jennifer was not rehired.

    I claim that it is unlikely that she was not rehired simply because of the merchant of venice incident. I have seen nothing in her account that contradicts that. I have not claimed she is “the ONLY good teacher who ever lost her job for ridiculous reasons.” I have said repeatedly that it happens, but is rare. I have no evidence that Jennifer was a good teacher, that she was not rehired for a ridiculous reason, or that my doubts are unfounded. I can only take her at her word. I do have enough experiece with people to know how far along the road to truth that will get me.

    rob made a point about anecdotal evidence. He missed the point about his own experience being orthogonal to the topic (eye rolling was meant to parallel your spit ball throwing, don’t take it personally).

    In terms of validity of evidence, anecdote related to incident (Jennifer) is better than none (rob and I), but will be biased dependent upon level of involvement (Jennifer has a stake in saving face making her account suspect if push comes to shove), and gives only one data point. This makes it rather weak evidence. Anecdote related to the general species of experience (me) is better than none (rob), and because it is based on a larger sample is more generalizable (but don’t take that too far, for sure). So on this thread, we have a case of someone with a single experience, arguing with someone with many experiences, while a guy with zero experience makes pot shots.

    Who is right. None of us.

    Shortage = fewer available teachers with license than positions available. Now define relative shortage…unless you can show me that there is a relatively greater shortage of English teachers than others you have not even addressed my point.

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