It’s a good thing none of that stuff is still going around:
This West Virginia school district has weekly Bible classes. A kindergartner is suing.
A kindergartner is battling county officials in federal court over Bible classes in public school.
In a federal lawsuit filed in January, Jane Doe, a pseudonymous plaintiff who is the mother of Mercer County, W.Va., kindergartner Jamie Doe, challenged the county’s “Bible in the Schools” program, saying it was unconstitutional.
“This program advances and endorses one religion, improperly entangles public schools in religious affairs, and violates the personal consciences of nonreligious and non-Christian parents and students,” said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
The story, featured in The Washington Post yesterday, further describes idiotic themes promoted by the Mercer Counter public school system. According to the Post report, a lesson contained the following language: “imagine that human beings and dinosaurs existed at the same time.” It continued: “So picture Adam being able to crawl up on the back of a dinosaur!” Additionally: “He and Eve could have their own personal water slide! Wouldn’t that be so wild!”
Yes, this public school is cool with the idea of passing on to students the false tale of Adam and Eve from the biblical book of Genesis. Additionally these public servants want to tell students that, contrary to known facts, people and dinosaurs existed contemporaneously. An item appearing on the Patheos blog provides additional detail:
Bible indoctrination classes have been taught in Mercer County Schools for more than 75 years. Between 1939 and 1985, the bible classes were designed, financed, administered and staffed by a small group of Mercer County citizens. Following complaints by parents of eight students in 1985, the Mercer County schools took over the instruction in 1986, claiming to follow nine guidelines from the Office of the Attorney General.
Financing is provided by the “Bluefield Bible Study Fund, Inc.,” which operates a fund to pay bible teachers to instruct about 4,000 students. Bible teachers must follow lesson plans almost without deviation. There are 70 to 90 visuals used in each lesson. Lessons have included images of Jesus being tortured, nailed to the cross, and ascending into heaven.
Public schools can teach a host of ideas, but the idea of a person ascending into the sky while people look on is the far side of truth. Where did all this start? Where is it going to end? Are chemistry students going to learn everything is composed of four basic elements—fire, water, earth, and air? Will history classes get into the details of the lost city of Atlantis? Will science classes describe how the sun goes around the Earth? The Post item paints a dismal picture:
One mother in Mercer County said her child was indeed bullied for not attending the Bible classes. In fact, the bullying got so bad that Elizabeth Deal took her daughter out of the county school system, she said.
“I think this is definitely an outright gray area, if not outright illegal,” Deal said.
The school district’s motion also pointed out that the classes, which are paid for by a nonprofit organization, receive no public funding.
“The point of the course is to teach history and literature … a cultural enrichment objective,” said Hiram S. Sasser, a lawyer representing Mercer County Public Schools who works for the First Liberty Institute, a Texas-based nonprofit focused on religious freedom. “To make sure that students obviously have the social currency to interpret Western literature.”
“The point of the course is to teach history and literature … a cultural enrichment objective.” Really? When did teaching history turn into teaching fables as true? Are students to be left believing Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan were true-to-life and their exploits real? Is Washington Irving‘s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to be elevated to the status of a historical narrative? When did “cultural enrichment” become indoctrination? At what point do we need to stand back and call this what it is, Bat Shit Crazy?
[Full disclosure: I am a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.]