In the never-ending battle to teach religious dogma in public schools, the GOP in Alabama has introduced a bill that will lift a ban on “release time” classes that will allow students to leave school grounds and study Creation “Science” in a different location. The school would only be involved so far as to give an elective credit to students that participate.
The main proponent of this disingenuous plan is Mr. Joseph Kennedy, a teacher who had been fired in 1980 for teaching Creationism to his sixth grade class and refused to stop after students and parents complained. Mr. Kennedy is a Young Earth Creationist (meaning he believes the Earth is only several thousand years old) and had this to say:
“We’ll have to raise all the money,” Kennedy said. “All the school board needs to do is set it up. They can give the students credit. We’re going to major on creation science. Since creation involved science, then certainly we can study it. We want to give students good sound scientific reasons to support their faith in the seven-day creation and the young Earth. For example, there is no delta to the Colorado River, which is evidence that it was washed out after the flood.”
The bill is being introduced by Rep. Blaine Galliher (R-Rainbow City):
“This is legislation that has been adopted in several states: Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Idaho, just like this,” said Galliher, sponsor of House Bill 133 and chairman of the agenda-setting House Rules Committee. He said he modeled the bill after laws in other states. “It’s already been litigated all the way through the court system, so it’s constitutional.”
This absolutely fails the Muslim Test. The chances of Alabama going to bat for a Muslim looking to teach the same material to students is between zero and none. But they’ll still claim it’s not a religious class.
This kind of class is legal in some states because the schools, so far, remain completely outside of the logistics of the class, preserving the the separation clause of the First Amendment. On the other hand, proper separation has not always been maintained leading to the banning of release time classes. Because of this, the new bill may not pass constitutional muster. Thomas Berg, a constitutional law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis is concerned it will not:
“Even giving elective credit could be considered too much involvement by the school, Berg said.”
“The school is encouraging taking the class by offering credit for it,” Berg said. “Is the religious teacher going to certify that the student passed? Would the school do any review of that? Would they monitor the class for quality to ensure it would warrant a public school credit? All those things would entangle the school.”
There is a much more fundamental question here (if you’ll forgive the pun): Why is it necessary to teach this class during school hours to begin with? Why is it even necessary to offer elective credits for it? It could just as easily be taught on weekends, after school hours or even over the summer break. Why sacrifice even a minute of real school time for this kind of pseudo-scientific garbage? The objective, as always, is to erode the barrier between Church and State, even a little. A few years after it becomes normal to receive ”elective” credit, there’ll be a new push to make it part of the standard curriculum and there will already be a precedent in place. And why not have it on school grounds? It’s already part of the course work. Isn’t it silly to waste all that money by transporting the students off campus? And so it goes.
If parents want their kids to learn about religion, let them do it at their tax-exempt churches on their own time.
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