Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's The Matter With... Oklahoma?

The other day when I heard this homophobic rant from Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern (of the usual gays are sinners who are trying to destroy America and apple pie variety), I didn't get worked up, because this was just one state representative rambling to a few dozen idiots at a speech.

But this story, on the other hand, is positively frightening-
The Oklahoma House of Representatives Education Committee has just approved House Bill 2211. The bill is expected to pass the full House, and then to go to the Senate. Its authors describe it as promoting freedom of religion in the public schools. In fact, it does the opposite...

...The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student’s religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student’s incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill.

The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law.

A simple rant here about the separation of church and state would not be sufficient.

What we have here are a bunch of lunatics who believe that their personal beliefs are superior to facts, and that 'science' is some conspiracy that seeks to oppress them. But this is not some cult... it is evangelical Christianity, the biggest and most influential religion in the nation. Everyone in America has-- and rightfully so-- a good chuckle when people like Tom Cruise are going on and on with their crazy religious beliefs (spaceships and volcanoes), and yet this nonsense is treated with reverence to the point that we would allow students to dictate reality in an educational environment out of some crazy religious political correctness.

Freedom of religion is a founding principle in this country, but in the sense that people are free to worship as they choose, without fear of governmental interference. But when the government starts codifying religion in the laws and in the classroom, that violates the Constitution, not to mention the principles of reason the founders adhered to more strongly than their religion.

The move toward the latter is one of the lasting impacts of Bush-era conservatism. One can only hope that saner days are ahead. In the meantime, if you live in Oklahoma, you might want to contact your state representatives.

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