…and South Dakota follows suit

There was no opposition to a bill that encourages South Dakota public schools to study the bible. This one is as sectarian as they come.

Scripture study and science projects? That’s the prospect some students in South Dakota may face after a substantial majority in the state’s House of Representatives helped pass a resolution to encourage public school districts to incorporate Bible education into curricula. The House passed the resolution last week by a vote of 55-13 after a short floor debate during which no member from either party voiced opposition.

The sponsor of the bill, Steve Hickey, is a pastor, of course. This is clearly a law intended to promote Christianity and Christianity alone in the schools.

Hey, let’s not forget Pennsylvania in the roster of bad, lazy state legislatures. They passed a resolution declaring this the “year of the bible”. That one is just plain dumb: citing vague “great challenges” that the US is facing, it wants Pennsylvanians to turn to an ancient magic book to find strength. They won’t. Real problems need to be confronted with real solutions and hard work, not superstition and a retreat into fairy tales.


  1. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    If we make this the year of the bible, can we abandon the bible in 2013? I might could live with that compromise. 2012 is the year for getting it out of our system and moving on. Of course, I’ll be hibernating until then.

  2. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Gee, it’s amazing that idjits think that the babble can’t be used in teaching in puplic schools. Perhaps that’s because they want it taught by the state as something other than mythology/fiction.

  3. ladude says

    I think I’m beginning to feel very sick. There is no where else to go. We need to fight the good fight. I hope these idiotic bills are being challenged by some organization.

  4. davidct says

    We seem to be moving backwards. We have a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in this country dating back President Jackson. It is hard at times to believe that we are making any progress as a country.

  5. says

    This is a bit weird :

    The House passed the resolution last week by a vote of 55-13 after a short floor debate during which no member from either party voiced opposition.

    13 “voiced no opposition”, yet they voted against it ? At least those 13 still seem to have at least a basic knowledge of their country’s constitution.

  6. says

    I think that these recent and many flare-ups are an indication of their nematode level of awareness squirming the poison-in-the-petri-dish that is us…

  7. says

    I daresay that the 13 who voted against it were unwilling to create news-clips of their opposition to the measure, probably figuring their political opponents would use them in political ads to smear them as anti-God (because “anti-God” is still considered a smear in most legislative districts and still unfortunately effective). I’m glad they cast “no” votes, but I regret their timidity about speaking out.

  8. BCPA_Lady (now appearing in MN!) says

    Oh Pennsylvania…. I’m just going to start telling people I’m from New Jersey.

    Not only does this violate the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, it violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania too.

    Article 1, Section 3: “All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.”

  9. birgerjohansson says

    …And during flu season, Pennsylvanians should all pay attention to the Golgafrinchan creation myth.

    — — — — — —
    Antiochus Epiphanes, maybe we can make 2013 the year of Kama Sutra?
    I am told it was written for religious reasons as opposition to the ascetic ideal of hinduism at the time. Hence, a bona fide religious tome. And the kids in school will probably find it much more interesting than reading about Biblical Goat Herder # 89

  10. raven says

    Depopulation: The Great Plains drain | The Economistwww.economist.com/node/10534077Cached
    You +1’d this publicly. Undo
    17 Jan 2008 – In general, people are moving to places that are warm, mountainous or suburban .

    They are leaving many rural areas, with the most relentless decline in a broad band … In parts, the Great Plains are more sparsely populated now than they were in the late 19th century, … from the print edition | United States …

    People have been fleeing the central US great plains for decades now.

    They move from rurual areas to cities and from midwest cities to the coasts.

    The result seems to be what you end up with in South Dakota. A small and aging population of morons.

    A lot of my family was from the northern midwest. Note the was. Just about everyone of them has left.

  11. Brownian says

    Ha-ha! This is so gonna backfire when their kids turn out completely different from them@mdash;literate!

  12. peterh says

    Are they going to include the Popul Vu? The Vedas? The Q’uran? Dozens more need to be included or their balanced diversity will have neither diversity nor balance.

  13. says

    What do people do when the laws fails them? I would like to know because I feel the law is failing us, and I want to do something.

  14. congaboy says

    You can teach about religion in schools, the school can’t endorse or enforce one religion over another. (it’s the ignorant parents that make life hell for teachers who are really trying to teach children) Just like you can pray in school, but the school can’t make you pray. When I was a kid, I cut numerous deals with the invisible sky dude to ensure that the teacher would not call on me before the bell rang–and of course I reneged on every promise I made.

  15. mmmmd says

    I would suggest this Bible, if indeed one needs to be studied.

    The Atheist’s Bible: An Illustrious Collection of Irreverent Thoughts, by Joan Konner.

    May be even funnier than Sponge Bob…

  16. says

    Actually studying the Bible, and learning what’s really in it, is a good way to lose your faith. But I don’t suppose that sort of honest Bible study is what they have in mind. (It’s been found that atheists know more about the contents of the Bible than Christians.)

  17. Synfandel says

    …maybe we can make 2013 the year of Kama Sutra? …the kids in school will probably find it much more interesting than reading about Biblical Goat Herder # 89.

    Okay, now everyone pair up with a partner for the practicum. This will be 40 per cent of your grade.

  18. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Antiochus Epiphanes, maybe we can make 2013 the year of Kama Sutra?

    You are a genius. I am for this 100%.

    Maybe we can take a little break in 2014 and make it the year of the comic book.

  19. says

    I do wonder if it has occurred to these IDjits that if high school students actually have to read the babble they’ll start asking a lot of awkward questions – such as why anyone with a functioning brain could possibly believe the fairy stories in it, or why YHWH was such a pathetic jealous jerk-off who couldn’t even defeat enemies who used iron chariots.

  20. dianne says

    Hey, let’s not forget Pennsylvania in the roster of bad, lazy state legislatures.

    Fracking legislature. They think they only represent the Alabama part of Pennsylvania. New York City and Philadelphia should break off from their respective states and form a single bi-city state together. Puns on this comment welcome.

  21. robro says

    Did the law stipulate the version of the Bible? To be true to the tradition, they should use the Hebrew for the OT, of course, and the Septuagint (Greek) for the NT. I suppose they could use the Vulgate (Latin) as well in some cases. Perhaps all three. That way students would learn three classical languages, which could be a very useful skill these days. Very few study these languages today, so this could put America at the forefront of Classical studies. It might be just the thing to kick start the economy for the 21st century.

  22. digitalatheist says

    @#25 robro

    Are you mad? By God I’ll have you know there is only one true version of The Bible: the almight King James Version. It was writ by the very hand of God himself and those others are foul attempts to purty up the Holy Word!

    Besides why on Earth would you want our precious children to learn those ungodly languages? Isn’t Christ’s own english good enough for you? I shudder to think what will happen to those poor children. /rage> /sarcasm> /foolishness>

    On a more serious side, it scares me how “christianity” has been declaring war on the Constitution of late. Not a day seems to pass when I don’t read of yet another school district or state wishing to start teaching The Bible “god’s” insanity as a part of the curriculum. The rallying cry is always some errant nonsense about this being a “christian nation” and that the Seperation of church/state doesn’t really apply to them.

    Do these bozos well-meaning citizens not realize that it might not be their brand of bible reading that gets taught? Who gets to decide which standard is chosen? If this nonsense did get started well and good they would be fighting each other and cursing teachers and schools for not teaching the right kind of bible teaching.

    Have they no churches? Have they no meeting groups?

  23. ladude says

    I third the Kama Sutra in 2013. After which we definitely will need a year to recover. At least those of us over 50.

  24. says

    I’d like to point out that you already can teach parts of the Bible when it’s academically necessary. I know my high school English classes covered a few key Bible stories to make sure we would get the appropriate references in literature (such as the Grapes of Wrath). We did the same with Greek mythology, Buddhist legend, and probably a few other religions that I can’t recall at the moment.

    A proper background in the humanities does require a passing familiarity with at least a few religions, but this level of understanding is almost certainly already being taught. To pass a law like this to get courses specifically on the Christian Bible is a clear attempt to push religion, not just cultural bakground.

  25. Christopher Denney says

    It’s really a shame we cannot criminally prosecute the legislators when they pass crap that’s patently unconstitutional.

  26. David Marjanović says

    We did the same with Greek mythology, Buddhist legend, and probably a few other religions that I can’t recall at the moment.

    It’s unlikely, but I hope you included Chinese four-character sayings! “Smart rabbit, three exits”…

    It’s really a shame we cannot criminally prosecute the legislators when they pass crap that’s patently unconstitutional.


  27. unclefrogy says

    A thought occurred and then a question. How much of this pushing christianity through the government and schools is the result of the declining membership of churches and attendance of services?

    uncle frogy

  28. interrobang says

    I’ve got no problem with studying holy books, personally. In my “History of the English Language” course in university, we looked at passages from four English versions of the Bible — Old, Middle, Early Modern, and Modern. (It’s a good text to use for that sort of thing, since it’s extant in a zillion versions and they’re all significantly different, hee hee.) I use my recto-verso Hebrew-English Torah as Hebrew practice. I actually really enjoy reading stuff about the various Biblical authors and redactors, the source criticism stuff. That is some really interesting shit if you’re a history and literature and ancient things geek like me. But that’s leagues and miles and yards away from the kind of thing they’re proposing, and significantly less biased and sectarian. Where I do have a problem is exactly the sort of idiot fundamentalist Christer thing these dim bulbs are proposing, which is to turn compulsory schooling into a sort of Bible-infused reconditioning brainwash.

    I support teaching Hebrew and Greek to as many kids as want to learn, as well as French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Cree, Navajo, Swahili, Hindi, and whatever other else foreign/second languages; language learning is good for you. If nothing else, it broadens your perspective somewhat.

  29. says


    It’s unlikely, but I hope you included Chinese four-character sayings! “Smart rabbit, three exits”…

    狡兔三窟 jiap3tu4 san1ku1

    this is actually not from mythology, this is from Zhanguoce, a rhetoric guide for pre-Qin strategic advisers. I.e. when China was split into many kingdoms, and strategic advisers were travelling the country, selling their expertise to whoever would hire them. “Sly rabbit, three dens” is an analogy from this book.

    Many four-character idioms are actually from philosophical texts and historical sources, so I wouldn’t want to create the impression that these idioms merely represented Chinese mythology.

    There are mythological texts which could be taught (though given the divinity of the emperor, you could also teach about the lives of important rulers, I guess), but it would be hard to just present them in form of four-character idioms…

  30. Rich Woods says

    And that has formed a significant part of my novel education for today. Thank you, pelamun.

  31. says

    Thanks, Rich.

    Though it depends on the age group I think.

    What about fairy tales and stuff like Aesop’s fables? These wouldn’t fall under mythology now right? Because there are a lot of cute cartoonisations of Chinese four-character idioms, they could be used alongside fairy tales and Greek fables…

  32. Therrin says


    What do people do when the laws fails them? I would like to know because I feel the law is failing us, and I want to do something.

    Build bunkers and buy guns.

    Or leave the country.

  33. peterh says

    “If nothing else, it broadens your perspective somewhat.”

    There you go, undermining the Legislature’s good intentions™! Have you no shame?

  34. XXIst Century (updated) Vole says

    How much of this pushing christianity through the government and schools is the result of the declining membership of churches and attendance of services?

    uncle frogy

    That has been my theory hypothesis conjecture for many years: it’s a transparent attempt to level the playing field.

    Christians are able to promote their religious message for only a few hours on Sunday mornings and only to young people who go to church voluntarily or by parental coercion. The infidels promote their heresy five days a week, Monday through Friday, to young people who are required by law to go to school.

  35. rwgate says

    When I was in high school in Seattle (Class of 64) we had a course called “Comparative Religions”. It was amazing to see how so many of the religions shared stories and beliefs. I think they stopped teaching it when they found more than a few students were coming away with a somewhat diminished respect for their own religion. Unintended consequences, indeed!

  36. says

    Grammar Nazi note: it’s ‘amended’ not ‘ammended’.

    Also, there are tons of Buddhist creation stories; they are at least as widespread and variant as the number of cultures that have adopted Buddhism. For that matter, there are numerous Hindu cosmologies. In both cases–Hinduism and Buddhism–and the choice of cosmologies necessitates preference for one sect or culture over others.

    But then, if you’re stuck thinking in narrowly-defined Christian or Jewish frames of reference–single canonized textual traditions as the only/primary source for singular cosmologies, J & E Documentary Hypothesis be damned– this sort of problem won’t occur to your little pea-sized brain.

  37. jamesrlindley says

    I see no problem teaching the Bible in school: in History as fraud and in English as fiction.

  38. WhiteHatLurker says

    The year of the bible bill is interesting – it is noted as a noncontroversial resolution.

    However, some might have missed that Nov 2011 was the month of the KJV, in part because:

    Republican President Ronald Reagan said of the King James Bible, “Indeed, it is an incontrovertible fact that all the complex and horrendous questions confronting us at home and worldwide have their answer in that single book

    Also passed unanimously as noncontroversial. I wonder if they voted using Reagan’s trademark “helicopter too loud – can’t hear you” gesture.

    It really is a shame that PA has gone so bonkers – I do like Pittsburgh.

  39. nicksabot says

    Between our horrible(and fair) rating in our science standards, and HR 535, I’m hanging my head in shame as a PA resident. I did write my House Assemblyman about the resolution, and I got a pretty lame reply. I wrote:

    Representative Reed,

    I am writing you today concerning the passing of House Resolution 535, passed 193-0 on January 24, 2012.

    As a life-long citizen of Pennsylvania, and an eight year resident of District 62, I feel that this resolution is inherently discriminatory, and skates the fine edge of constitutionality. While not a law, and therefore not compulsory to action, it may pass the Lemon Test. This does not change the fact that it sends a very poor message to the citizens of our District, Commonwealth, and our fellow States. The language of this Resolution does not even make an attempt to be non-sectarian, let alone secular and inclusive. For example:

    “WHEREAS, The Bible, the word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people…”


    “WHEREAS, Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people…”

    This is a clear endorsement of not only religion, but a specific religion; Christianity. No other tradition refers to its “holy scriptures” as the “Bible”. It is an insult to those who do not follow this particular religion by insinuating that we cannot be moral, upstanding citizens. In fact, it would claim that we are the problem. You have only to look at countries that have adopted inclusive and secular government to see how this is false; i.e. Sweden, Denmark, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.

    In addition, there are blatant falsehoods in HR 535.

    “WHEREAS, Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States..”

    While the Declaration of Independence does mention a Creator, the Constitution of the United States does not. The sole reference to religion in the Constitution is Article VI, par. 3:

    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    This, of course, is in direct opposition to Sections 3 and 4 of our 1967 Constitution of the Commonwealth.

    In addition, the ideas upon which our system of government is based are to be found nowhere in the Bible. If you can find references to democracy, powers derived from the governed, or equality under the law, I would be glad to read them.

    Our nation was founded and established by people of varied religious and political opinion, as well as considerable strengths and weaknesses. But they produced a set of documents that were a product of the Enlightenment, not the Bible. There is much more Locke, than Luke, in the Constitution.

    I hope that you will see that this Resolution is in direct conflict with the founding principles of this nation, and as such it should be moved to discard it. I look forward to your response on the matter.

    Sincerely and Cordially,
    Nicolas Posey

    and he wrote:


    Thank you for your comments about HR 535, the “Year of the Bible” resolution. While many may agree that our system of government sets forth the separation of church and state, I do not agree that the resolution endangers that separation. As a bit of background, that resolution is modeled on a Congressional declaration making 1983 the “Year of the Bible” at the federal level. This particular resolution was advanced through the House under Rule 35 as a “noncontroversial” bill, meaning that it would not have been considered if any member had objected. It passed with a vote of 193-0 in a chamber consisting of members with a variety of faith backgrounds and religions.

    To me, the resolution recognizes the importance of the Bible, through its myriad translations and faith interpretations, in the development of our nation’s unique legal and cultural heritage.

    I do appreciate your point about there being “much more Locke, than Luke, in the Constitution.” How could one deny that influence, when the phrase “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness” is lifted nearly verbatim from Locke? However, I believe that Biblical concepts certainly inform what our citizens expect from the social contract. Many of our great social movements and reform efforts have been inspired by scriptural teachings and drew upon religious imagery to advance their cause. For better or worse, that influence often influenced both sides of a great debate: rebels and loyalists during the American Revolution; abolitionists and secessionists during the Civil War; and the Civil Rights movement and resistors to integration during the 1960s.

    On the cultural side, the literary importance of the Bible cannot be overstated–prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens wrote an article last year placing the King James Bible among Shakespeare’s works as the most important literature in the English language. For much of our nation’s history, the Bible was the book on which most individuals learned to read.

    Understanding that we likely will continue to disagree on this subject, I do appreciate you taking the time to express your thoughts and opinion on the subject.

    Best Regards,
    Dave Reed

  40. leonpeyre says

    We all know the Bible, and only the Bible, will be thrust upon students as a result of this bill. So let’s focus on lobbying that it be the Skeptic’s Annotated Version!

  41. a miasma of incandescent plasma says

    If we lived in SD, I would encourage my daughter to do an analysis, have clippings of all instances in the bible of the earth “sitting on pillars” and “(does) not move” and then show the evidence that in fact the earth is an oblate spheroid and does, you know, move.