If Almost 1/4 of US States Can Now Fund Creationism...
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed May 25, 2011 at 12:48:43 PM EST
"Religious schools across the nation are receiving public funds through voucher and corporate tax credit programs. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of these schools use Protestant fundamentalist textbooks that teach not only Creationism, but also a religious supremacist worldview, with a shocking spin on politics, history, and human rights." - from Vouchers/Tax Credits Funding Creationism, Revisionist History, Hostility Toward Other Religions

Does it matter that, as Talk To Action contributor Rachel Tabachnick has documented at length in a new groundbreaking story, state tax money in almost 1/4 of the states in the US can apparently now fund religious schools that teach from textbooks promoting creationism*, which call the Theory of Evolution a lie and link liberal views to an alleged national decline? Or that the UK government, moving in the opposite direction, has just opted to ban government funding for creationist schools? Regardless, isn't the march of atheism and secularism an inevitable trend?
[below: excerpt from Vouchers/Tax Credits Funding Creationism, Revisionist History, Hostility Toward Other Religions]

A quiz in the teacher's guide for the A Beka eighth grade text Matter and Motion asks, "Why did superstition take the place of science during the Middle Ages?"  The answer key tells us, "People did not have the Bible to guide them in their beliefs.  Many looked back to the false ideas of Aristotle."23  The next question is, "Why did modern science begin so suddenly in the 1500s?" The answer given is, "As people returned to the authority of the Scriptures during the Protestant Reformation (1517), they started learning the truth about God and His creation." 

A three page section in this A Beka text leads with a headline "Two Faiths: Creation and Evolution" and states, "Creation, not evolution, is based on a reasonable faith."24  The section on Darwin is headlined "Evolution: Faith Disguised as Science."25 A Bob Jones science text includes a chapter titled "Biblical Creationism," claiming that evolution cannot be a part of science, since it can not be observed and must be accepted by faith.

The same Bob Jones text explains, "From a Christian standpoint, there are only two worldviews from which to choose - a Christian worldview or a non-Christian worldview.  The most important beliefs in a Christian worldview are the beliefs that the Bible is the Word of God and the only completely reliable thing in this world."26

The text suggests that sedimentary fossils were formed in Noah's flood.  One-and-a-half pages are dedicated to the possibility that the Bible refers to dinosaurs and closes with the warning, "Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation.  Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years."27  

On young-demographic big social media sites such as Reddit.com I read a great deal of sentiment to the effect that atheism, as movement, is winning and will inevitably prevail. Often, reasons given center around the alleged decline of Christianity in the US and other nations, and a supposed corresponding rise in secularism.

Without getting into the numbers game (fewer Christians? More atheists?) I'd like to point out that energized and organized minorities can very effectively organize for political power.

One trend that radically bucks the claim that atheism is prevailing is a disturbing (for supporters of church-state separation) trend in which more and more federal and state money flows, each year, to religious entities in America. Outrage over this phenomenon breaks out sporadically, with Kentucky's tax-credit supported Noah's Ark theme part as the latest provocation du jour but rarely do people so outraged back up, to survey the wider pattern in which more and more government tax dollars flow to the "faith based" sector.

The trend really took off with George W. Bush's Faith Based Initiative, which diverted several billion dollars to religious groups during the Bush years but the flow hasn't stopped, and as independent journalist Andy Kopsa has chronicled, FBI money has recently gone to virulently bigoted, antigay organizations such as the Iowa Family Policy Center, which has claimed that homosexuality poses a great threat to public health than secondhand smoke.

In the end, it really doesn't matter if the politicized Christian right amounts to only a fraction of the American population. With enough financial support, both from the private sector (which likes the movement's radically libertarian pro-corporate business views) and from state and federal government, the movement can persist perhaps indefinitely and, more to the point, attempt to achieve political supremacy.

This is part of a strategy mapped out decades ago, in which the movement would both try to destroy existing societal institutions (such as public education) and build corresponding parallel institutions--such as religious schools. The movement is also aggressively infiltrating and attacking liberal and centrist religious institutions in America, and ideologically targeting the US military.

And, it is now common knowledge that the US evangelical right comprises the key Republican electoral base, to the extent that GOP politicians with serious presidential aspirations are now forced to court evangelical leaders, such as Pastor John Hagee, who a decade or two ago would have been considered too controversial for the mainstream political stage.

So, no: atheists aren't clearly winning, neither are committed secularists. It's easier to mock, and to scoff, politicized religion than to study and analyze it, and captains of the religious right no doubt welcome the misguided approach. But if the rise in state funding of creationist curriculum is any indication atheists and secularists aren't winning--they're losing, perhaps in large part because they're not really paying attention.

What would the founders think, that one day in the nation they launched it would be commonplace for states to fund the teaching of the notion that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old? Or the proposition that theocracy is the best form of government? It's fair to say, they would be aghast. As Benjamin Franklin is alleged to have warned, at the founding and with prescience it now seems, "a Republic... if you can keep it."

"The textbooks' position on social issues are virulent anti-gay, similar to those of Religious Right organizations (heavily funded by Betsy DeVos and family) that have been labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and they are fiercely anti-abortion; but they also teach a radical laissez-faire capitalism. Government safety nets, regulation, minimum wage, and progressive taxes are described as contrary to the Bible. Many of these textbooks were first published in the 1980s, evidence that the merging of Religious Right ideology with extreme free market economics predates the Tea Party movement by many years.

The textbooks exhibit hostility toward other religions - Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, traditional African religions, and Native American religions - and other Christians are also targeted, including non-evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics.

All three series include biblical Creationism in their science curriculum."

---- from Vouchers/Tax Credits Funding Creationism, Revisionist History, Hostility Toward Other Religions

*note: I've changed my title--in my original post, I suggested that the twelve or so US states that now allow state tax money, via voucher programs or tax credits, are providing that money to religious schools that teach creationism. Florida and Pennsylvania, with almost 10% of the US population, clearly are, but there's lots of legwork to be done to map out the national pattern.

According to the 2010-2011 yearbook of the Alliance for School Choice, which promotes "school choice", voucher and tuition tax credit money (via scholarships) from states is being dispersed by Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Georgia, Louisiana, the District of Columbia, Utah, Rhode Island, Indiana, and Oklahoma (numbers of scholarships per state in descending order--Florida gives the most, at 54,000 scholarships in the 2010-2011 school year. According to the Alliance For School Choice tally, such funding now flows in states with a combined population of about 83 million Americans, well over 1/4 of the entire population of the United States.)

Given that there appears to be negligible scrutiny of the flow of such funding to religious schools, and the fact that Christian religious schools in the United States rely heavily on creationist curriculum from Bob Jones University and the A Beka Book company, it is a statistical likelihood that states dispersing significant numbers of voucher and/or tuition tax credit grants will wind up funding students who attend schools that teach from such curriculum.

To put a sharper numerical edge on things, states which grant at least 1,000 of these scholarships per year represent over 68 million Americans, over 1/5 of the US population. The two most populous states that disperse these scholarships and unquestionably provide them for students going to religious schools that teach from A Beka and/or Bob Jones books, Florida and Pennsylvania, have a combined population of over 30 million, almost 1/10 of the entire US population.

Education being one of them. And our gov't helping them along? Is this another example of Obama's pragmatism as he calls his accommodation of them?

by Nightgaunt on Sat May 28, 2011 at 11:41:32 AM EST

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