Monday, May 5, 2014

Education Faces Religious Assault

Efforts to inject religion into public education continue unabated.  

In Alabama, for example, legislators debated two bills that would have required public school teachers to recite prayers each morning at the beginning of school. The other bill would have allowed students to use the classroom to proselytize to fellow students. 

In New Orleans, one school regularly incorporates official Christian prayer into class and school events.  In addition, the school scrolls Bible verses on an electronic marquee in front of the school.  This came to light after a Buddhist student complained about being harassed by a teacher.  The family filed suit when a teacher told them "this is the Bible Belt" and suggested the parents change their son's faith.

In Texas, State Rep. Phil Stephenson (R) called for more "acknowledgement" of Christianity in public schools, encouraging Ten Commandments displays, prayer, and use of the word "God."  His resolution stated, "The overwhelming of majority of voters in the 2010 Republican Party Primary Election voted in favor of the public acknowledgement of God, and the 2012 platform of the Republican Party of Texas affirms 'that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity, and strength.”

In case anyone thinks these kinds of things happen only in the South, in Indiana, a Republican state senator wants Indiana's public school students to begin each day by reciting the Lord's Prayer "in order that each student recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen."

Naturally, the man who made the proposal, State Sen. Dennis Kruse, is chair of the state Senate's education committee.

These attempts won’t be stopping any time soon.  Not with the increased efforts to dumb down education.  Our system, which used to be the best in the world, now lingers near the bottom of multiple educational ranks.

We are 33rd in reading, behind such foreign powerhouses as Korea (1), Poland (7), Iceland (19) and Mexico (31).  In math, we zoom all the way the 227th, trailing Finland (1) Ireland (16), Luxembourg (23) and the Russian Federation (26).  In science, we are 22nd.  Finland again tops the list, but others include New Zealand (4), Belgium (13), Hungary (15) and Iceland (21).

In all three categories, the United States falls below the international averages.

Big Bang Theory
As a result, our citizens are awash in pseudoscience and reject scientifically proven research, such as the Big Bang, evolution and human responsibility for global warming, according to a March 2014 Associated Press survey. 

More than half of all Americans do not believe the university arose 13.8 billion years ago.  That’s despite overwhelming evidence supporting the Big Bang, such as the abundance of hydrogen in the universe, the discovery that galaxies are speeding away from us, and the cosmic microwave background radiation. Naysayers know nothing of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe that provided detailed maps of variations in the microwave background radiation, explaining why matter exists as well as the rapidly spreading mist of hydrogen.

More than 40 percent refuse to accept that “life on Earth, including human beings, evolved through a process of natural selection,” completing shunning intense studies in anthropology and the abundance of fossil records.  Some 37 percent reject humans as the cause of Climate Change, despite both visual and chemical evidence, while 36 percent reject the proven conclusion that “the Earth is 4.5 billion years old,” completing spurning the repeated chemical analyses that conclusively pinpointed the date.

Of course, as compensation, 54 percent agree that the “universe is so complex, there must be a supreme being guiding its creation.”

The results didn’t shock scholars who have to labor against the tide of ignorance.  “When you are putting up facts against faith, facts can’t argue against faith,” Duke University biochemist Robert Lefkowitz, who won a Nobel Prize in 2012, said. He called faith “untestable.”

It also tips the scale when science and religion face off.  A separate study found that “22 percent of scientists and 20 percent of the general population say religious people are hostile to science.” When the two are at odds, more than 52 percent opted for religion.  Ironically the study found that nearly 36 percent of scientists believe in God and attend weekly religious services at the same rate as non-scientists.

The decline in American education comes as the amount of knowledge increases.  We know so much more about the world and the reality of our universe than any other generation.  Our children should know even more, which is why pious politicians and conservative Christians are trying so hard to infiltrate the classroom with their claptrap.  

There is only one bulwark against them, the U.S. Constitution.  In multiple cases, the Court has pointed out that “the First Amendment does not forbid all mention of religion in public schools; it is the advancement or inhibition of religion that is prohibited.”

Maybe the gung-ho religion types should study the law first.  Of course, that would require a real education, something they are trying to smother under the blanket of religious faith.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at  He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His books are available on, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

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