World History Text Mentions Islam—Florida’s Christian Right Shits Itself

So, I see the headline, “Brevard School Board wants 10-member panel to compile textbook supplement,” and as I read just a little further, I believe I smell a religious rat. I want to be objective going in, but the accusation (including the level of response) that Prentice Hall would be selling a textbook with “pro-Islamic bias,” makes me suspect. It isn’t as though they hire Imam’s as their history subject matter experts (SME) or authors. Their authors and SMEs (usually pronounced “smeez”) are qualified, educated, reputable, and generally experienced suppliers of educational content in their areas of expertise. So, I was very interested in what sort of “pro-Muslim bias” they were being accused of selling.

Of course, the entire time, I’m thinking of the Texas School Board’s push for Christian bias, and how they might react to anything about Islam in a history text that isn’t entirely negative. I read further, trying to keep an open mind, but just waiting to hear these “concerns” (which spurred a review panel, a need to produce supplementary material, and legislator complaints) in more detail—because part of me just already knows this has “Christian Right having a tantrum over something idiotic” slathered all over it. And finally, here it is. Here is more detail about one of their “big concerns”:

“One of the big concerns that we’ve heard is that it talks about the five tenants of Islam, and it doesn’t talk about the 10 Commandments, because that was something that was covered in sixth grade,” Brevard schools spokeswoman Michelle Irwin said. “So they may have a copy online of the 10 Commandments.”

So, the world history textbook, for use in U.S. schools, apparently gives a very basic description of the fundamental foundations of Islam. It tells, not sells, the students about the five tenets of Islam. And that’s a “big concern” about “pro-Islamic bias.” Here, let me paraphrase author Katherine Stewart, who once said of the Christian Right, in a lecture I attended, “If they can’t own it, they’ll break it.” In essence, if you mention Islam, Christianity must have equal time. It doesn’t matter that Christianity was already covered in an earlier grade.

The problem here is that Christianity, from a historic perspective, is relevant. But that does not mean it’s relevant all the time just as much as other inputs in every historic situation. If the U.S. becomes involved in trade or military action with, or against, nations that are theocratic, that may make understanding those nations’ perspectives more historically relevant during the study of particular times and events. If the nations covered in the content are theocratic, then there is absolutely nothing problematic about describing their political and religious principles or leanings to students. That’s what education is all about: Informing people about the inputs that impact the situations, about which they are learning. So, in some cases, the founding principles of Islam can be highly relevant, where the founding principles of Christianity, may be not as much.

But the Christian Right will not have it! You cannot talk about Islam, unless Jesus is right there, too, just as prominently, regardless of the point to be made. If information about Islam is clearly more relevant to the lesson, and information about Christianity clearly less so, that makes no difference. They must own the floor, every time, in all things, or else they have a “big concern.”

From a historic perspective, there are reasons Islamic nations have featured more prominently on the world stage in the last century, even the last few decades. Since we’re a culture saturated by Christianity—it’s far more necessary to teach U.S. children about Islam—this other religious-political environment we have been interacting with more aggressively the last few decades—than it is to teach them about the religion they’re soaked with in their day-to-day lives. Despite the fears of the Christian Right, U.S. children actually have heard quite a lot about Jesus, even without trying. They have, on the other hand, heard much less about Mohammed. Kids in the U.S. have actually heard of the 10 Commandments. There’s a movie on every Easter that tells us all about it, and monuments at some of our courthouses, and a Bible in most homes, and a church on nearly every corner with a sign telling us about Our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. And if those get past them somehow, there are the always the cross jewelry, the bumper-stickers, and the t-shirts letting us all know The Good News. And let’s not forget the block of television networks and radio stations devoted to proclaiming god’s Christian love for us all. So, the 10 Commandments—they get. Explaining five points to the students about Islam—the basic founding concepts at the very least—in a modern world history class—is not “bias” toward Islam.

Seriously—the Christian Persecution Complex is pure ridiculousness. It’s absolutely, unfathomably absurd.

“21 dead in religious rioting in central Nigeria”

I don’t have much to comment on here. Just to say we hear often about religious persecution of Christians around the globe from Christian news sites. We don’t usually hear about Christians murdering people of other faiths, even though it happens. So, just to share:

http://news.yahoo.com/21-dead-religious-rioting-central-nigeria-115350915.html

Logic: ur doin it rong!

A crystalline example of whatever it is that goes on between a fundamentalist’s ears that passes for thinking can be seen in this whiny little editorial in the Columbia County News-Times. This would be in Georgia, which would be in the deep south, which would explain much. Anyway, the point Will Fischer desperately tries to convince us of is that if people stop saying “Merry Christmas” in favor of all those “politically correct” holiday greetings, then — all together now, boys and girls, “Slippery slope fallacy!” — Christians will “lose their freedom to practice their religion,” apparently. Uh-huh. Oh, and there’s this rather surreal example of analogy fail:

Just imagine what would happen if you decided to say something nice to everyone that you meet such as, “I admire you because you are such a gay person.” Look out; you might not like their response. Why? Because we have changed a word’s original meaning over time to mean something else. By not saying “Merry Christmas,” we are doing the same thing.

I’ll take “Dumbest Argument Made by Someone Not Named Ray Comfort” for $1000, Alex.

What matters is he gets to play the Christian Persecution card

An amusing tale from the world of sports, which I generally regard with absolute indifference. Oakland Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson intercepts a pass in the end zone, celebrates by dropping to his knees and flamboyantly thanking God*, and is promptly penalized. “”I’m just getting on my knees giving my respect to God. I don’t see how that’s a personal foul or anything like that,” he complains. But it appears that religion is not the culprit after all here. It would seem the NFL passed a rule three years ago prohibiting showy end-zone celebrations on general principles. Now the writer of the linked article makes the point that, religion notwithstanding, the problem here is that it’s a stupid rule in the first place, and one that the NFL doesn’t bother to enforce consistently. But even that misses the point. Christians will run with anything that lets them play the persecuted minority. You can bet that Kirk and Ray and all the fundagelicals who enjoy whipping up fear in the flock by whining about how Christianity is being “criminalized” in America will soon be adding “And the liberals won’t even let football players praise Jebus in the end zone!” to their repertoire of repression. Yawn.


* The spectacle of sports stars constantly thanking God for their victories, as if the creator of the universe wouldn’t have anything better to do, reminds me of the joke where the coach is talking to his team before the big game, and he warns them, “This is going to be a tough one, boys. God is on their side!”

Christian Right defecating selves over McLeroy rejection

And as always, whenever someone of that ilk (I love words like “ilk” — they sound so yuckily apropos in instances like these) opens his yap, lies flow like especially pungent and curdled vomit. Remember, creationists can’t not lie. Here are some quotes from a fundagelical email making the rounds, playing the usual Christian “persecution” card. Crazy Hint #1: strategic use of ALL CAPS.

…The highly partisan Sen. Kirk Watson and Sen. Eliot Shapleigh and the highly partisan TEXAS FREEDOM NETWORK, have successfully brought the Satanic art of “BORKING” to Texas … ; they recently managed to smear Dr. Don McLeroy, a good and decent man, with sickening LIES. This tag-team of DEMONS claimed that Dr. McLeroy tried to force CREATIONISM into the Science Classroom, and they told this brazen LIE over and over again.

Yes, let’s all ignore the fact that members of the creationist special interest group known fondly to us all as The Discovery Institute were appointed by the SBOE under McLeroy to review science education and TEKS test standards. Let’s ignore the fact that that bimbo Terri Leo let her creationist freak-flag fly proudly by publicly spouting such creotard phraseology as “militant Darwinists” in front of SRO public meetings. Let’s ignore the fact that Ken Mercer repeatedly makes an ass of himself by publicly spewing criticisms of nonexistent “weaknesses” of evolution that come straight from creationist literature (there’s evidence for “microevolution” and none for “macroevolution,” and similar bullshit). Let’s ignore that fact that Mac has just plain come right out and stated he believes the Earth is 6000 years old, a belief as moronically contrafactual as saying Los Angeles is a hundred yards from New York City, and that a person that frakkin’ stupid has no business determining the educations of millions of schoolchildren. Nope, no creationism on this board, nosiree.

I have to disagree with one piece of equivocation TFN insists on making (perhaps in an effort not to alienate more liberal and pro-science minded theists), that Mac’s religious beliefs were not the reason he was so vehemently opposed, his incompetence and ideology were.

Mac’s religious beliefs indeed would not have been an issue…until he made them the issue by trying to inject them into curricula.

Mac’s desperate defenders try to peddle the absurd spin that Mac simply wanted students to have the “academic freedom” to examine the evidence, pro and con. You know, the not-so-crafty lie that the creationists have constructed so as to make them seem like they’re the scientifically-minded and intellectually “honest” ones. But the transparency of that spin is readily apparent to anyone who has followed the recent history of American creationism and seen precisely how the movement has evolved to take advantage of political realities.

The “teach the controversy” and “academic freedom” rhetoric they advance now is specifically designed to sow basic doubts in students’ minds about the validity of and support for evolutionary science. Overtly teaching creationism is something they know they can’t do, but they’ve discovered something even more weaselly effective: simply plant the nugget of doubt that evolution is well-supported by evidence, and then everything the student encounters in his extracurricular life — validation from equally ignorant and ill-educated church members; crazy conspiracy theories from Ben Stein; “reasonable” sounding design arguments like irreducible complexity — will do the rest.

They don’t really care about knowledge or the scientific method. The only agenda of the believer is to protect the belief. Even if that requires posing as an “open-minded” science supporter when you actually seek to completely gut science and everything it teaches us about reality.

So, yes, I will come right out and say that Mac’s religious beliefs were at the root of why he was rejected from a position he was totally unqualified to hold. And it’s because he chose to inject those beliefs inappropriately into his work, disguising them (poorly) in the rhetoric of the increasingly politically savvy anti-evolution movement.

Our idiot blithers:

The TRUTH is that Dr. McLeroy and the SBOE have simply asked that the SCIENTIFIC METHOD be applied fairly and universally in the Science Classroom; in particular, they have ask that the SCIENTIFIC METHOD even be applied to two SACRED-COWS/RELIGIONS of the Liberal Democrats, namely, (1) Darwinian Evolution and (2) Global Warming.

Newsflash, butt-biscuit-for-brains. The scientific method has been applied to those concepts (we leave sacred cows and religions to fools like you). Guess what? They passed. You failed. Run along now. Play with your blocks. But be careful. They might be too educational.

Not even pretending anymore

As most of you probably are aware, the confirmation (or not) of Don McLeroy as chair of the Texas SBOE is pending. The SBOE is now officially a nationwide laughingstock, first with Conan O’Brien and then Bill Maher finding plenty of fodder for humor in the board’s idiocy ever since it’s been a country club for fundagelical numbskulls who believe the Earth was created more recently than dogs were domesticated.

Once the comedy gets all the way around to the likes of Dane Cook, you’ll know Texas’ reputation has bottomed out.

The Texas Freedom Network is urging every Texas resident to contact their state senators to urge them to vote against McLeroy’s confirmation. I’m nervous about this, particularly as my state senator here in Austin is loyal Republican Jeff Wentworth. But I plan to contact him anyway. You should do the same if you’re a rational Texan. Find out who represents you here.

In the meantime, fellow SBOE member Ken Mercer — the guy who keeps bringing up things like Piltdown Man — has rallied to his buddy’s defense. And sure enough, he’s playing the good old Christian Persecution Card. I mean, what else would Mercer be doing when his column has such a whiny title as “Christians Need Not Apply.” Seriously, that little card is starting to look more than a little worn and dog-eared, isn’t it?

By now, reading the angsty rants of fundamentalists scorned is a thoroughly tiresome exercise, inspiring little more than a bemused shaking of the head. But it’s worth noting that guys like Mercer are no longer even pretending not to be hypocrites any more. As the TFN blog points out, they want it both ways. They repeatedly claim (blatantly lying, of course) that their positions as board members are not in any way motivated by their religious beliefs, or the desire to pander to voters that share them. But in the same breath, if their policies and activities as board members are criticized at all, then it’s back to the old “Oh noes I is pursekuted becos I haz the Krischianity!!!!1!one!” So suddenly, the reason to support and defend McLeroy has everything to do with this…

“I wanted to write to you [McLeroy] and express my sincerest appreciation to you for having the courage to stand by your convictions during your recent hearing. It is unfortunately rare, today, to see anyone willing to clearly and calmly state and stand by their Christian beliefs, particularly in the face of abuse such as what you took.”

…even though we’re expected to go on believing that those Christian beliefs Mac boldly stands by do not in any way influence his work as chairman of the SBOE. As cons go, that ain’t very smooth, fundies.

The voting on this issue will be extremely partisan, people. Today the House voted down HB 710, which would have subjected the SBOE to periodic review by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. All but one Republican voted against this common-sense bill, which would not have stripped any authority from the SBOE at all. Even simple oversight strikes fear into the hearts of the Republicans and their Christian Right masters, it would seem.

Finally, I love this little quip from the TFN blog, in response to Mercer’s comparing McLeroy’s “persecution” to that we’re supposed to think is being suffered by homophobic pageant queen Carrie Prejean.

…Mercer deserves credit for coming up with the most apt comparison to date for the level of intellectual debate at the Texas SBOE — a beauty pageant. The uninformed, vapid discourse at the board resembles nothing so much as a room full of beauty pageant contestants confidently asserting opinions on politics or world affairs. And both ellicit similar snickers and groans from the audience.

Ouch! Come on, no need to harsh on the pageant girls! They’re a MENSA gathering compared to the SBOE. And cuter too!

Out of the mouths of blondes

The extremist far-right wackaloons good and godly people in the loving Christian community of lovingful loving loveness figured out a while back that their message of hate, hypocrisy and ignorance love and apple-pie decency was a much easier sell when it came from the mouths of photogenic blondes. Hence their embrace of Miss California pageant winner Carrie Prejean, who made evangelicals around the country cream their prejeans when she spoke publicly against marriage equality.

Now, I’m the last guy anyone would accuse of political correctness — okay, scratch that, I’m entirely sure I’m far from the last guy there, as I suspect just about everyone on the right is significantly more disdainful of the practice than I am. Anyway, where I was going with this is that I think beauty pageants are teh stoopid, if for no other reason than their smug duplicitousness. I mean, come on, they parade chicks around in bathing suits while at the same time expecting them to maintain an alabaster-goddess image of unrealistic virginal purity. The average porn movie and topless bar is, if nothing else, at least honest about its agenda of prurient objectification!

Which is why it’s so hilarious that some of the same evangelicals who’ve pounced on Prejean to be their hot homophobia cover girl are wondering if they need to back off now that a couple of totally G-rated glamour shots of her have — inevitably — turned up. Again, what’s funny here? That topless photos featuring a consenting adult woman are fine; it’s the hypocrisy of the pageant’s “it’s only okay to display women as sexmeat when we do it” attitude that’s risible and asinine.

For her own part, Prejean is responding to her recent publicity, criticisms of her homophobia, and the possibility she may lose her title because of these pictures, in the expected fashion: by playing the Christian Persecution Card.

“I am a Christian, and I am a model,” she said. “Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos.”

She said the photos “have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith.”

“I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be,” she said. “But these attacks on me and others who speak in defense of traditional marriage are intolerant and offensive. [Emphasis added.] While we may not agree on every issue, we should show respect for others’ opinions and not try to silence them through vicious and mean-spirited attacks.”

I just love it every time a vocal bigot (regardless of whether or not she’s blonde and hot, thank you) calls anyone else “intolerant.” I mean, that’s not only rich, rich irony. It’s a double-deluxe extra-chocolate fudge and cherry syrup level of richness. And we’ll not even get started on the plea for “respect” from someone who thinks her Bronze Age beliefs entitle her to deny millions of people she doesn’t know and whose lives will never impact hers the right to enter into loving, committed relationships.

Anyway, it’s just another example of the sort of uncontrolled clusterfuck that erupts whenever evangelicals make absurd spectacles of themselves. Personally, Carrie, you should have stuck with topless modeling. I promise you, you’d be in a lot better company.