My Old Kentucky Homesite

You Call It an Angel, but It Looks Like a Chip to Me

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 02/18/2010

Nine days ago, I wrote about an education bill proposed by three Kentucky theocrats who think that a Biblical Literacy elective should be offered in Kentucky’s schools.

Today, that bill came up for a vote by the Senate Diseducation Committee, and was approved unanimously.

One of the twelve committee members voted “amen,” before adding a quick “yea.” Another complimented the bill’s sponsors, telling them that they must have been inspired when “an angel was sent down to your shoulders.” Still another senator cheered that “preaching” might help public schools.

Senator Julian Carroll, one of the three god-pushers who cobbled the bill from what must have been the true cross, noticed that his colleagues were going too far over the top even for him. Calmly, he pointed out that the bill would not stand up to constitutional challenges unless it makes clear that the bible would be taught as a “historical document” and not as a “faith-based document.” But then, swept up in the revival-meeting fervor, he complained that current problems in the public schools —like shootings — occur because the bible has been taken out of the classroom, and “nothing” put back in.

Here’s what else Carroll said. “When we took the Bible out of the school, we also unfortunately took out that portion of the Bible which relates to life skills and value systems. Our students these days do not have the full opportunity, in my judgment, to be taught those life skills that keep them out of our penitentiaries and make them a productive citizen.”

Tim Shaughnessy, a savvy senator from Louisville, grew nervous because of the repeated hosannas. He warned that it might be difficult for the bill to be perceived as anything other than an attempt to ram religion down the throats of all Kentucky students; “we couldn’t even get it out of committee without the preaching.” Shaughnessy then pointed out that the bible contains some life skills — becoming “ruthless warriors” and having “multiple wives,” for instance — that might not yield such terrific lessons for our young people. Still, he voted to approve.

Now that the bill has made it out of committee, I assume it will soon go to the full Kentucky Synod for a vote. No elected official would confirm or deny the rumor that if the bill passes, some real literature and history books will be burned at the capitol building to release a cloud of white smoke.

[If you care to read further, you can find different versions of the full story here and here.]

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11 Responses to “You Call It an Angel, but It Looks Like a Chip to Me”

  1. Life skills = Genesis 22:9 Abraham takes the knife to his son Isaac.
    Value system = 1 Samuel 15:3 I want the Amalekites dead. I want their children dead. I want their livestock burnt to the ground.

    I’m not sure how the Kentucky supremes are, but the federal supremes are sure to uphold this. Assuming some corporate cash is laid down, that is.

  2. Des:
    To be serious for a minute: Obviously, no decision could be made by either the Kentucky Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court until a case is brought to trial and works its way up through the lower courts. But if somehow such a case did get to the high court in Kentucky or Washington, I doubt strongly that the supremes would allow a teacher to proselytize in a public school classroom. Even Scalia, unless he’s gone completely batshit crazy, would find preaching in the classroom to be a clear violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

    Still, a series of trials would be long and costly. I think Kentuckians should pass an amendment to the state constitution saying something like:

    Any legislator who sponsors a bill that passes into law and is later found to be blatantly [Note: That word would have to be defined clearly somewhere in the amendment] unconstitutional by a court of last appeal, shall be charged portions of (1) the expense of trying any cases contesting the constitutionality of that bill brought by persons who are found by the court of last appeal to have been deprived of their constitutional rights as a result of that bill and (2) the monetary rewards granted to those persons in the aforementioned cases.

    In other words, if you insist on wasting the taxpayer’s time and money by voting for stupid laws, you should have to pay for that frivolity.

  3. I agree. Somebody’s lawyer would step in with a “This is a joke, right?” prior to any court action. I disagree with you that Scalia is not batshit crazy. But he is, as they say, crazy like a fox…

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with your amendment proposal. What do legislators have to fear? All I can think of, aside from having their hush-hush activities discovered, is not getting re-elected. With that being it, these yahoos can and regularly say and do anything, including this nonsense, to remain in their positions or go higher. If these fuckers can’t on their own put their constituents first and serve for any reason other than their own interests, then measures like this need to be enacted.

    Btw, isn’t it funny how how they can argue the cause of so many woes is the removal of their bible in schools while their actions to get it back in are essentially immoral in both the obvious lies of the intent to do so and in the inevitable waste of taxpayers time and money in undoing it. I agree there might be a valuable text which has gone missing and its return could extinguish many current woes, but it’s not the Christian bible, it’s the US constitution.

  5. TinaFCD said

    I seriously doubt that those people have even read part of the bible, they think it’s all good. Why would a person WANT their kids to read such crazy crap.

  6. My shoulders slumped when I heard this. At least it is an elective. (LEAST)
    @TinaFCD: no, believe it. In KY, you WILL read the bible before you run for any office.

  7. GoingLikeSixty:

    I would propose that you only have to claim to have read the Bible before running for office. I remember being dumbstruck at the lack of follow-up questions to Bush in the 2000 election. When asked what book he had recently read, he answered that he sometimes reads the Bible. A real journalist would have followed immediately with a question that challenged his obvious fabrication: “Can you name the Gospels?” While probably everyone commenting here could, I sincerely doubt Bush could.

    Aside: I understand that many people are not that in to reading, but almost everyone I know is currently reading at least one book or has read one recently enough that they would pass a cursory interrogation on it.

  8. the chaplain said

    Btw, isn’t it funny how how they can argue the cause of so many woes is the removal of their bible in schools while their actions to get it back in are essentially immoral….

    Christian apologetics 101, lesson 1, point 1: It’s not immoral if it’s done for Jesus.

    Christian apologetics 101, lesson 1, point 2: We’re the godless ones, so we are, by definition, immoral; they’re the god-soaked ones, so they are by definition, moral.

    Glad I could clear that up for you. The invoice is in the mail – please pay within 30 days.

    Does anyone know if FFRF knows about this? I should think, given that these statements are public record, that this would be a slam-dunk legal challenge for them to take up. If at least some members of the KY state legislature can find a teaspoon of gray matter in their heads, a challenge from the FFRF should inspire them to trash this thing before the state loses money needlessly. It’s probably too much to hope that a messy legal challenge would prompt KY voters to consider never voting for these clowns again.

  9. I’m unaware of any preemptive strikes by the FFRF, so I don’t know if this is their thing but they might have the muscle at this point to dissuade this thing. On the other hand, a challenge from the FFRF might be something these “pious” legislators would use to rally support.

    Desertscope: Sadly, if you say you’re reading the Christian bible, that exempts you from follow up questions. Look, I’m still waiting for the day when an athlete, after talking all season about their god being responsible for their successes and then loses a championship game, gets asked, “so where was your god today?” I’ll also accept, “so why has your god foresaken you today?”

  10. Tina:
    I think you’re right that most people who push bible-reading have not read most of it, or they’d find it unsuitable for children. That’s why, in my previous post on this subject, I included the rule: Morally abhorrent sections of the bible must be liberally included in the course. There’s a sneaky catch in that rule, which none of my readers commented on at the time. If Yahweh can act, or command humans to act, in a morally aborrent way, then morals must come from somewhere other than god. That’s the Euthyphro dilemma, as handed down to us by our old pal, Plato.

    Going:
    I agree with Des, that Kentucky’s legislators have not necessarily read the entire bible. But I agree with you that they’ve probably read some of it, or had it read to them, in some form. Perhaps they hire campaign assistants who race through the “bible” section of Bartlett’s Quotations, culling appropriate vote-getting sound-bites.

    Des:
    For the media to ask intelligent questions, they themselves must have some degree of intelligence. If you’ve watched any television news lately or picked up any newspaper, you’ll know why the media’s questions are usually dumb.

    We’re becoming an illiterate nation. Sure, I’d expect that your friends and acquaintances read. So do mine, and I’d venture to say that’s true for the social circles of the rest of the commenters here. But, according to a 2006 poll, one in four Americans read no books at all. The genre with the largest number of books read? You guessed it: the bible and religious works. But it’s not clear whether the respondents were asked whether they had read each of their claimed books in entirety.

    Chappy:
    I think Philly is right. I doubt whether groups like the FFRF and the ACLU would bother with preemptive strikes. Bear in mind that the Kentucky bill has not yet gone to the entire Senate for a vote, nor has it hit the House. And even if and when it does, there will still be no consititutional violation until some teacher or principal actually starts propagandizing in a school. Of course, that’s bound to happen, but I’m sure that some religious legal defense organization will come up with some clever talking points.

    Philly:
    I’m still waiting for the day when a [god-pushing] athlete … loses a championship game, [and] gets asked, “so where was your god today?”
    Don’t you know that the Lord works in mysterious ways? Sometimes, he secretly puts his money (“In Me I Trust”) on the other team. That’s just Jehovah’s way of foiling Satan, who has probably lost more bar bets than any other entity who ever lived. It also explains why sometimes churches are damaged in tornadoes, and why Sarah Palin’s kid is retarded … oops … specially blessed.

  11. In the locker room, minutes after the missed last-second Hail Mary:

    Reporter: “Could you tell us what happened in your view.”

    Wide receiver: “I got out in the open where I was all by myself. The quarterback was well defended, and he had time to make a beautiful throw right right to where I would be. I jumped and felt the sharp impact of the ball on my hands. Then Jesus just slapped it away for no reason whatsoever. Fuck that guy.”

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