A while back I wrote about the Louisiana state voucher system, which allows for publicly funded vouchers to be used to send children to, among other places, fundamentalist Christian schools where they teach such cutting edge topics like “The Loch Ness Monster is Real; Therefore GOD“.
I’m not kidding. Click the link if you don’t believe me. Anyway my problem with this setup, in general, is that public funds are being used to send kids to religious schools. In some cases, I admit that the quality of education might be perfectly acceptable … or it might even exceed that of a public school considering the extent to which their funding has been gutted in recent years. My chief complaint is illustrated by the above links. Basically, these schools can hide behind the bible while teaching our children all sorts of unscientific nonsense about the world.
Actually, I take back that part about hiding behind the bible. See, the way the law was set up, the vouchers could be used to send children to any religiously-affiliated schools.
Rep. Valarie Hodges (R-Watson) voted for Jindal’s bill in the Louisiana House, but has since withdrawn her support for the measure because she now realizes that it “unfortunately” applies more broadly:
HODGES: I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools…Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion. We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.
Hodges said that she is concerned about bringing “damaging schools” to her district because “we can not risk putting [the students] in jeopardy.”
I’ve always been left with the impression that the Founding Fathers were Deists … which were basically the closest approximation to atheists you could have back during that era without running afoul of the silly-hat-wearing powers-that-be. But even if they were devout Christians, the Constitution (and its legal interpretation over the last several hundred years) has firmly established a separation of church and state such that their religion – or lack thereof – doesn’t enter into how the nation should be governed.
This means that if you’re going to allow public money to be used for religious schools, that means ALL religions: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Scientologist, Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Pastafarian, etc. Like it or not. My guess is “not” since Valarie’s reaction essentially says to the world that she only wants freedom for her own religion and screw everyone else. Big shock. Given her revulsion at the thought of having other religions being given equal treatment, I think she might finally be getting an idea of the way everyone else feels when Christianity is given privileged status in American society and law.
Maybe it’s time we just scrap the current voucher program and focus on improving public schools instead.