Separation of church and state: a five-word phrase sewn into the fabric of our country, established by Thomas Jefferson and reinforced by the Supreme Court of the United States. Yet our state seems to forget it time and time again.
In 1980, Kentucky made an attempt to put the Ten Commandments in every classroom of every public school. In 2005, McCreary County tried to put up a display of the Ten Commandments in their court house. In 2011, the state Senate has passed a bill allowing creationism to be taught through a “Bible class” in public schools—for the second time.
All of these efforts have something in common, however. The U.S. Supreme Court declared the act of placing the Ten Commandments in every classroom unconstitutional, and the McCreary County display was defeated. Last year, when state Senator Boswell proposed to teach creationism through Bible classes, the bill died in the House.
But this is where the dose of irony kicks in: Kentucky’s statute KRS 158 already allows passages of the Bible to be read in class, if deemed necessary for instruction on the theory of creation. It seems a tad inconsistent to block biblical decorations from classrooms, yet allow a religious idea to be presented in public schools. It seems a tad unconstitutional, as well.
Opposing arguments will say that it’s only fair to present multiple sides of a situation, as not everybody believes in evolution. They’ll say that teaching creationism through the Bible will raise morale in a generation full of embarrassing disappointments.
It certainly is fair to see all aspects of an issue, but it’s also important to remember that evolution is backed by scientific evidence—microevolution has been scientifically proven. Creationism is a theory based on faith, and the Bible is a document passed down for thousands of years (making it susceptible to changes) full of vague metaphorical concepts, like the seven-day creation of Earth.
As for the idea that a Bible class will instill morals into society, the goal at hand is far too subjective. What constitutes as right and wrong can not be determined by one certain religion. Not everyone in America believes in Christianity, so not everyone has similar goals in morality. What makes the Bible a better “moral-building” book than the Talmud? What makes Christianity a more ethical religion than Buddhism? Judaism?
If you’re going to try to incorporate religion into a public school system, the least you could do is try and hide your bias. We certainly don’t see any lawmakers urging the understanding of Islam (though that might do wonders for the ignorance of Islamophobes.)
It’s unfair to spend taxpayer money to fund a religion-based class in the first place, and only allowing for one religion digs the hole of bigotry even deeper. It’s more than just studying the Bible—it’s advocating a religion. For those who prefer “moral-building” classes, there are numerous private schools to choose from. But this is public school, paid through taxes collected from citizens who may not be Christians.
The even more ironic part of this whole piece of irony is that not one of the 176 school districts actually teaches the state-legalized theory of creationism. I guess the real question, then, is why Kentucky won’t stop trying.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Creationism has no place in Kentucky public schools
This from the Freshmen Edition of Henry Clay High School's Devil's Advocate: