27 March 2009

Oklahoma is poised to enter the Dark Ages

The Oklahoma House of Representatives Education Committee passed a bill, the intent of which was to "promote freedom of religion."
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. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student’s belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct. Science education becomes absurd under such a situation.
The link article from the Edmond Sun newspaper is dated March 7. At the Oklahoma House of Representatives website I found an update from March 13 indicating that the bill had passed the full House by a vote of 71-25 and had been passed on to the state Senate.

This is insanity. One cannot declare (legislate) that religious belief is equivalent to truth. The obvious intent is to promote Christianist principles, but to implement that they would have to legislate that only Christian beliefs are accepted as truth. If not, any religion, including Islamic, Buddhist, Jainist, animist, Rastafarian, or even Pastafarian (depicted above) can decide what is "true" and schools would have to give credit for the answer being correct. Graduates of Oklahoma schools will be viewed with justifiable suspicion by graduate schools and employers in other states and around the world.

That way lies madness, and I don't care whom I offend by saying so. Hier stehe Ich - Ich kann nicht anders.

Addendum: As someone has pointed out in the Comments, the March referred to above was 2008. I haven't been able to ascertain whether it did or did not pass the Oklahoma Senate.


  1. Our elected officials seem as a group to have lost their minds.

    My German was never that good, as you may recall - but I can get through that quote - and recognize it as Martin Luther.

    I don't know where the madness in Washington is going to end - but your article is further evidence that the insanity has reached out to the provinces.

  2. The good news is that the country *is* moving towards secularism. It is only recently when the religious right are getting squeezed more and more that they get louder and louder and start passing laws like this.

    Look at any old movie from 50 years ago, and belief in god was *explicitly* understood to be universal and everyone in the US was assumed to be a christian.

  3. Look at the Pew report on religion, page 18 for the graph of the decline of religion.

    pew religious landscape study pdf

  4. The publishing date on the article is March 2008. I'd say that Oklahoma isn't poised to enter the Dark Ages -- they're already there.

  5. Ich stehe mit Ihnen.

  6. Makes as much sense at promoting evolution, Darwin style, which DNAwise has been shown to be unsupportable as well.

  7. if i was a lazy student in Oklahoma i would probably be trying to exploit the hell out of this

  8. The quote in German was Martin Luther, wasn't it?

  9. I was all set to blog about this, and then I decided to read the actual bill to see what it said. Perhaps there are multiple versions floating about out there, and some more closely resemble what the editorial is warning of. But at least this version does not. This seems to be the relevant section:


    Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of the submission by the student. Homework and classroom work shall be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance and against other legitimate pedagogical concerns identified by the school. Students shall not be penalized or rewarded on account of religious content. If the assignment given by a teacher involves writing a poem, the work of a student who submits a poem in the form of a prayer (for example, a psalm) should be judged on the basis of academic standards, including literary quality, and not penalized or rewarded on account of its religious content."

    There appear to be many problems with the bill, but unless I am missing something, this version does not do what the editorial claims that it does.

    1. Whenever I visit Arkansas, they always warn me about what awaits across the border. It is likened to the pale of civilization. The murder rate triples in the border counties and the air becomes seeped with a humid, ominous tinge. Superstition and madness abound. I thus stick to Arkansas where the company is enlightened and civilized.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...