A hostile learning environment for those of faith


Some Christian groups in Kansas are suing the state board of education over science teaching in schools.

There’s the Pacific Justice Institute for example. (Wha? The Pacific is nowhere near Kansas.)

Topeka, Kansas–Families across Kansas became one step closer, today, to protecting their children from forced atheistic teaching in their public school system. Pacific Justice Institute filed a complaint in Federal District Court challenging the State Board of Education’s (BOE) adoption of certain science standards which would create a hostile learning environment for those of faith. The standards being challenged are the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by the BOE June 11, 2013, and the corresponding Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas.

In addition to citing numerous areas of law that the standards violate, the complaint cites that the standards cause the state “to promote religious beliefs that are inconsistent with the theistic religious beliefs of plaintiffs, thereby depriving them of the right to be free from government that favors one religious view over another.”

I’m not a lawyer or a legal scholar, but that seems like a very contorted argument. “Favoring” science doesn’t become favoring a religious view just because some religious people decide to get bent out of shape about it. And if science would “create a hostile learning environment for those of faith” then that shows what’s wrong with faith, doesn’t it. It’s threatened by unfamiliar knowledge and it demands deference as a matter of survival. That’s way too high maintenance.

Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute noted, “it’s an egregious violation of the rights of Americans to subject students—as young as five—to an authoritative figure such as a teacher who essentially tells them that their faith is wrong.” He continued, “it’s one thing to explore alternatives at an appropriate age, but to teach theory that is devoid of any alternative which aligns with the belief of people of faith is just wrong.”

No it isn’t. What if some students believed in magical agents who can cause major events while leaving no historical record? Would it be “just wrong” to teach history without taking such agents into account?

Now that one is a rhetorical question.

Comments

  1. Brian E says

    Maybe they’re peace loving. It might be used in that sense, not geographic. I think we can agree they are censorious tools.

  2. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Now that one is a rhetorical question.

    :Heh heh :-)

    “it’s an egregious violation of the rights of Americans to subject students—as young as five—to an authoritative figure such as a teacher who essentially tells them that their faith is wrong.”

    Is that any faith, or just the Christian one?
    I only ask because I know what five-year olds are like, and if I were the parent of one who had faith he could jump from a roof and fly; or one that has faith that by running full-pelt head-first into an iron column at the railway station, she will be find herself at Hogwarts; I sure as Hell would hope someone would swiftly disabuse them of those particular faiths were I too stoopid to think about doing it myself.
    But I’m sure that none of these parents really allow their kids to faith in anything that might just pop into their inventive little minds, so why this particular……..hang on…….Oh, now I get it. It’s not about the faith of the five-year olds at all, is it? It’s about not wanting their kids to laught at them for believing silly things.

  3. M can help you with that. says

    By these standards, any public education at all is unacceptable because just about any fact might be interpreted as contrary to somebody’s “faith.”

    Worse, I rather suspect that this is actually the point — they’re not trying to defend their faith so much as trying to destroy public education.

  4. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Have they thought about suing reality for creating a hostile learning environment for those of faith?

  5. aziraphale says

    “the right to be free from government that favors one religious view over another.”

    No such right can exist. “Religious views” exist or have existed that promote child marriage, slavery, murder of apostates, heretics and witches…. Other religious views say the opposite in each case. Any government worthy of the name must take sides in those issues.

  6. khms says

    I seem to recall that the legal consensus in the US is that governments can take any side they like, so long as they can show substantial non-religious reasons for taking that side. In that case, if a religion conflicts, that’s their problem.

    Essentially, you can never argue against a law with religious arguments. All you can do is argue that the reasons the government offers are not enough to support the law in question.

    Of course, that’s all massively simplified ftom a non-lawyer non-citizen from the other side of the pond.

  7. Al Dente says

    What if I want my children to learn reality? My religious belief is that reality is real and mythology is false. These guys are trying to deny me the right to have my children practice the religious belief I want them to practice.

  8. AnotherAnonymouse says

    Oh, the irony. Back when my child started his first day of kindergarten, he was told by a proselytizing classmate that he was going to hell because our family didn’t attend the same church as the proselytizing child’s church. When I spoke to the teacher about it, she informed me that we were likely attending the wrong church, then, and should think about going to (the other kid’s) church. When the religious harassment continued, I brought the matter to the principal, who told me it was illegal for me to object to the bully’s “right of religion”. @@

  9. johnthedrunkard says

    And what if they teach them that:
    The Earth isn’t flat?
    That π ≠ 3?
    That insects don’t have four legs?

    Funny how biblical literalism can cherry-pick.

  10. smrnda says

    This quote :

    “it’s one thing to explore alternatives at an appropriate age, but to teach theory that is devoid of any alternative which aligns with the belief of people of faith is just wrong.”

    If there exists no alternative theory that aligns with your faith, maybe your bronze age faith is just wrong. Beliefs don’t become magically deserve respect just because they are based on faith. Schools are required to teach facts, not find ways to bolster your religious beliefs.

  11. mildlymagnificent says

    “it’s one thing to explore alternatives at an appropriate age, but to teach theory that is devoid of any alternative which aligns with the belief of people of faith is just wrong.”

    As a high school science teacher, my husband had to deal occasionally with individual parents objecting that he wasn’t teaching their “alternative” point of view. His response was always that it wasn’t his job to teach religion or anything about religion and, most importantly, he wasn’t expecting students to adopt what he taught as a matter of belief.

    He would teach, they would learn what was taught, they’d be tested on how well they understood what was taught. Without saying so explicitly, he managed to convey that he really didn’t care what they believed, only that they’d understood the material they were expected to learn.

    My suspicion is that a lot of these people don’t really understand teaching anyway. It’s not about persuasion or conviction or belief – though that’s probably what drives their own “teaching” of religion. I’m pretty sure they don’t really get the idea of knowing or understanding something just for the sake of knowing it or understanding it rather than because it’s important to you personally or vital to your view of yourself.

  12. nathanaelnerode says

    Have they thought about suing reality for creating a hostile learning environment for those of faith?

    Indeed. By definition, faith denies learning.

    Without saying so explicitly, he managed to convey that he really didn’t care what they believed, only that they’d understood the material they were expected to learn.

    And that’s how most teachers do it. It’s certainly how religion teachers in academia do it — they have to explain the belief systems and behaviors of a dozen religions, and they don’t expect any of their students to adopt any of those belief systems.

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