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Jul 10 2012

You Mean We Can’t Fund Only Christian Schools?

I’m having a good laugh over the situation in Louisiana, where legislators who voted for a voucher program to support private Christian schools are suddenly horrified to discover that they could be used for Muslim schools instead. They seem absolutely baffled by the idea that the government can’t treat one religion differently from another:

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools.

“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.

“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges said.

Hodges mistakenly assumed that “religious” meant “Christian.” …

“Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”

See, this is what happens when you elect people into office who are both ignorant and eager to secure taxpayer funding for their religious beliefs.

41 comments

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  1. 1
    slc1

    Hoisted upon their own petard.

  2. 2
    jerthebarbarian

    Actually look a little further down in that article:

    “I initially supported the bill because I understand the need to address and reform our education system in Louisiana,” Hodges said. “However, once you look at the details of the bill there were more questions than answers about the long term impact these changes could potentially have.

    “Here we were as legislators making long-term decisions about the future of all our children while seeming to be missing key information,” Hodges said. “We owe it to the people of Louisiana while bringing reform to the schools who are missing the mark and failing to also ensure at the same time that we avoid damaging schools that are performing well and giving our students a top-notch education like the schools here in Livingston Parish.

    “The schools here in Livingston Parish are the very reason that over 80,000 people have moved here and we can not risk putting them in jeopardy,” Hodges said.

    In other words, she finally read the bill instead of relying on her party ideology and summaries from lobbyists and suddenly discovered that the public schools in her relatively well-off district were going to get the shaft just as much as the poor districts.

    This doesn’t sound like someone who only objects because of anti-Muslim prejudice – this sounds like a legislator who has long replaced their own thought process with toeing the party line who has just found out that the party line might not be good for her keeping her job.

  3. 3
    greg1466

    I’m hoping the same thing comes up here in Pennsylvania where a voucher was just passed.

  4. 4
    eric

    I suspect this pattern goes back to before the founding of the country. Majority christian sect passes law/enacts something they expect to favor their sect. Other sects and non-christians use the 1st amendment (or equivalent) to apply the favor to themselves. Majority sect recoils in horror, drops law/enactment, and realizes why secular goverment may be valuable to them.

    300 years and (WAG) 80% of the country is still too stupid to learn from history and just skip to stage 3.

  5. 5
    Gregory in Seattle

    “[T]he Founders’ religion.” That would be agnostic Deism, correct?

  6. 6
    Alverant

    How is she going to react when someone tells her that not all the founding fathers were christian?

  7. 7
    roggg

    I’m all for teaching the favorite recipes of the founding fathers in school, but I had no idea they’d be teaching them to make tacos as well. I am outraged!

  8. 8
    Mr Ed

    “I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.

    So close. If she understood the fundamentals she would know that our found fathers thought it was wrong to tax a person to pay for a religion that he did believe in. I hope that this will be a learning experience but I’m not holding my breath.

  9. 9
    fifthdentist

    My first reaction was amusement as well. But then I realized that Michele Bachmann’s utter separation from reality is not an anomaly, but instead a template for others to emulate.
    There really is no individual stupid enough not to be considered a legitimate Republican politician, and indeed utter lack of knowledge about, well, anything, is a virtue among that crowd. That, and the ability to be the loudest sheep shouting: “Four legs good, two legs better.”

  10. 10
    Eric R

    “In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.”

    Cant remember who said it, it seems prescient now.

  11. 11
    Sastra

    Not just Islam. Watch the wingnuts go crazy if they put in a Waldorf School. Not that they wouldn’t have a point, but they really haven’t thought this thing through. The citizens of this country are really diverse when it comes to religion.

  12. 12
    Bronze Dog

    It seems easy for a tribalist wingnut to rationalize either likely result and assign blame. It’s The Other’s fault if it fails to pass because they’re denying them their super special privilege as Christians. If it passes and the school system degrades, it’s The Other’s fault for using the heretical rule of law to give Muslim schools equal access like they were secretly planning all along.

  13. 13
    John Horstman

    @1: This is off-topic and nit-picky, but as both an English geek and a Shakespeare geek, that particular common malapropism bothers me a lot. The phrase is actually “hoist with his own petar[d]“. A petard is a small explosive used for breaking through gates, smaller walls, or other fortifications. Being ‘hoist’ upon it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; the meaning is “blasted into the air by his own bomb”. “Hoist” is already the past tense of the old spelling “hoise”, so while the contemporary word has “hoist” as the present tense and “hoisted” as the past, the Shakespeare phrase uses “hoist”.

    At any rate, your sentiment is spot-on. :-)

    While we’re on the subject of malapropisms, the line, “Play it again, Sam” is never spoken in Casablanca; the closest phrase is, “Play it, Sam; play ‘As Time Goes By’.”

    Back on topic: this is exactly why we always say separation of church and state is there to protect YOU too (or especially), fundies. Theocracy is bad – only a small minority (in most geographic locations) subscribe to any particular religious doctrine, so institutionalizing any is going to be bad for most people. Thank you for demonstrating our point so well, Louisiana legislators. Also, vouchers are just generally a bad idea, and even more so when you don’t create any standards for the private schools. Stop trying to privatize stuff that the public sector does best.

  14. 14
    anandine

    EricR, It was Ambrose Bierce, who also said religion is “A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.”

  15. 15
    Nick Gotts

    I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana. – Rep. Valarie Hodges

    OK: so far, we agree.

    In the UK, where religion is generally weaker in its hold, the religious of almost all varieties gang up to demand state funding, and special treatment under the law.

    Apart from Christians of many sects, this mostly involves Muslims, religious Jews, and Hindus. All these groups run schools which are nonetheless state-funded; and some of these schools teach creationist lies of one sort or another. I don’t know if Mormons or Scientologists have yet bid for funding, but I can’t see how the authorities would justify refusing the former, at least.

  16. 16
    baal

    They seem absolutely baffled by the idea that the government can’t treat one religion differently from another:

    Totally true and a side effect of intentionally living in a closed mental community. It can so skew your thinking that otherwise obvious problems with your views get over looked. By corollary, it’s worth paying some attention to what your detractors are saying (and stop /snarking long enough to take that look). They are most likely to call out your hypocrisies (or highlight what fictions it behooves you to address).

    Yes, I used behooves and meant it!

  17. 17
    slc1

    Re John Horstman @ #13

    Apparently this is another aphorism due to Shakespeare in the play, Hamlet.

    http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/hoist%20by%20your%20own%20petard.html

  18. 18
    d cwilson

    “Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”

    I really love this.

    Not only does she overlook that fact that many of the Founders were deists, not Christians, but you almost see the exact moment where the the “Most give tax payer’s money to Christian churches” wire crossed with the “Must pander to Islamaphobic bigots” wire in her head.

    It’s like she had this “Oh, shit! Christianity isn’t the only religion in Lousiana?” moment.

  19. 19
    Bronze Dog

    Back on topic: this is exactly why we always say separation of church and state is there to protect YOU too (or especially), fundies. Theocracy is bad – only a small minority (in most geographic locations) subscribe to any particular religious doctrine, so institutionalizing any is going to be bad for most people.

    I was recently reminded of a Thomas Paine quote that summarizes my own stance on freedom:

    “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

    That’s one reason that I consider short-sightedness and naivete to be key vices among fundies and wingnuts.

  20. 20
    thisisaturingtest

    @#14, amandine- as soon as I read that quote at #10, I thought “gotta be Bierce, or maybe Mark Twain.” It just has that fierce Biercian bite, doesn’t it? Thanks for confirming.

  21. 21
    Reptile Dysfunction

    In this context it is also interesting to recall that the reason Jefferson wrote the famous letter to the Danbury Baptists was because they had first written to him for help in being excused from paying a specific tax earmarked for the Congregationalists. It almost sounds like Baptists were undergoing the dhimmi experience in early 19th century Connecticut.

  22. 22
    Modusoperandi

    There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently.

    Who knew that Louisiana was such a hotbed of Muslim activity?

  23. 23
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Well, that’s just fine and dandy. The next bill will be specifically bigoted in wording and intent to take care o’ this li’l problem.

  24. 24
    raven

    I’m sure that law will cover Pagan, Wiccan, and Atheist schools as well.

    Valerie Hodge seems to be exceptionally slow witted. It will occur to her or someone will explain it to her real slowlike that, no you can’t just show favoritism to one religion with taxpayer’s dollars.

    I can see where Wiccan or Harry Potter Hogwarts type schools will be immensely popular and a lot of fun. Even if the magic spells don’t really work.

  25. 25
    raven

    And oh yeah, Mormon and Scientology schools.

    Southern Baptists hate Mormons. They are both missionary religions and accuse the other one of stealing their members.

    With regard to Jefferson and Baptists, the Baptists were persecuted by the other xians, Congregationalists and Anglicans. They would get beaten up, thrown in jail, run out of town.

    It hasn’t taken them long to forget that while persecuting anyone they can, any way they can get away with. The Puritans didn’t come to America for religious freedom. They came to be the persecutors rather than the victims.

  26. 26
    subbie

    Check out her facebook page where she’s trying to control the damage by backtracking a bit, claiming

    What I actually said was: “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund RADICAL ISLAMIC SCHOOLS”

    Amazingly, most of the comments are from people who actually understand the stupidity and unconstitutionality of her position, which ever one she ends up sticking with.

  27. 27
    Kalliope

    @jerthebarbarian -

    I bet you’re right. Her constituents are not pleased and she’s using the Muslim school thing as a shield to keep her wingnut cred.

  28. 28
    JustaTech

    This is why I say no every time someone askes me to sign a petition for charter schools. I’m great with private school (I went to private school) but there is no way in hell I’m going to let my government spend my tax dollars to send kids to some half-assed religious school. You want your kids to learn that dragons=dinosaurs and the Loch Ness Monster is real and the earth is 6000 years old? Fine. But not with my money. You can pay for that stupid yourself.

  29. 29
    iknklast

    “I’m sure that law will cover Pagan, Wiccan, and Atheist schools as well.”

    I’ve always said the way to defeat vouchers is to open up atheist schools (not secular schools, our public schools are supposed to be that), and then apply for voucher funds. We don’t need to teach atheism there, just call them atheist and teach critical thinking and good science (plus good history, good math, etc – I’m not sure the fundies have messed with math yet, but there must be some reason why students gettin As in high school math are coming to my college classroom unable to do basic numerical manipulations that should have been taught in 4th grade).

    The moderate and liberal Christians can quickly come to the rescue and argue in favor of allowing Muslim schools, Hindu schools, Wicca schools – but I suspect atheist schools would lead to a lot of pale- and or red-faced posturing on all side of the aisle, and perhaps could ring the death knell of private school vouchers.

    Anyone want to fund an atheist school? I’d be willing to open one in Kansas (sorry, not Louisiana – hate that hot, subtropical climate). Kansas could use a good shock or two.

  30. 30
    Pierce R. Butler

    John Horstman @ # 13: A petard is a small explosive used for breaking through gates, smaller walls, or other fortifications. Being ‘hoist’ upon it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; the meaning is “blasted into the air by his own bomb”.

    I think it was in Eric Partridge’s Shakespeare’s Bawdy that I read, years ago, that in Bill the Bard’s time “petard” also meant “fart”, so being hoist(ed) on one is an image that would have provided a Globe audience with double giggles.

  31. 31
    Michael Heath

    Bronze Dog writes:

    I was recently reminded of a Thomas Paine quote that summarizes my own stance on freedom:
    “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

    Here’s another from Ed Brayton:

    “We are obligated, by virtue of demanding our own liberty, to protect the liberty of others.”

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/08/solzhenitsyn_the_social_conser.php

  32. 32
    jnorris

    Are you horrified that vouchers could go to Muslim schools? Then just wait for the Wiccans schools to apply. Please let Bobby still be governor, or better still – Vice-President, when that hits the fan.

  33. 33
    raven

    They do have an active Voodoo community in New Orleans.

    I’m sure they would like to have their own Voodoo school.

  34. 34
    abb3w

    Start a Muslim school, apply for vouchers.
    Then run attack ads against every idiot who voted for it, saying they supported a law that helped fund a Madrassa on US soil with taxpayer dollars.

  35. 35
    shockna

    I’m not sure the fundies have messed with math yet

    Google “bible based math”, and shudder.

  36. 36
    dingojack

    raven (#33) – maybe your hypothetical school could persuade Michael Heath to teach the economics classes.

    ;) Dingo

  37. 37
    John Pieret

    Hodges said she was sympathetic with the Governor’s overall goal of bringing “meaningful reform to our education system, because we are next to the last in the nation.”

    Geeze, with people like you in charge, who’d uv thunk it?

  38. 38
    stace

    I think it was in Eric Partridge’s Shakespeare’s Bawdy that I read, years ago, that in Bill the Bard’s time “petard” also meant “fart”

    Hoist upon a petard, now that would be a windy blast indeed, kind of like listening to Rusty Limbaugh.

  39. 39
    michaelhofer

    Time to move to NOLA and open a private Vodoun-based school.

  40. 40
    Worldtraveller

    iknklast@29:

    Anyone want to fund an atheist school? I’d be willing to open one in Kansas (sorry, not Louisiana – hate that hot, subtropical climate). Kansas could use a good shock or two.

    The summers in Dumbfuckistan Kansas are nearly as bad. I did 7 years there (I wouldn’t call it lived…), and the heat index was consistently worse in the summers than my hometown of Tucson (it’s a dry heat).

  41. 41
    John Phillips, FCD

    modusoperandi #22, wingnut Islamophobia counting goes something like, one muslim school, two muslim schools, thousands of muslim schools.

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