Is Science is Racist?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009
According to Berkeley High School, science is unfair to minorities. Apparently, minorities do not enroll in science as much as whites do. So, to better serve the minority students they want to cut science classes in favor of resources for struggling students.

While I believe it is important to help struggling students, I do not think cutting science or any core curriculum will serve the students in the long run.

Berkeley High May Cut Out Science Labs 

The proposal would trade labs seen as benefiting white students for resources to help struggling students.

at East Bay Express
Berkeley High School is considering a controversial proposal to eliminate science labs and the five science teachers who teach them to free up more resources to help struggling students.

The proposal to put the science-lab cuts on the table was approved recently by Berkeley High's School Governance Council, a body of teachers, parents, and students who oversee a plan to change the structure of the high school to address Berkeley's dismal racial achievement gap, where white students are doing far better than the state average while black and Latino students are doing worse.
Paul Gibson, an alternate parent representative on the School Governance Council, said that information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students. He said the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources to underperforming students was virtually unanimous.

Science teachers were understandably horrified by the proposal. "The majority of the science department believes that this major policy decision affecting the entire student body, the faculty, and the community has been made without any notification, without a hearing," said Mardi Sicular-Mertens, the senior member of Berkeley High School's science department, at last week's school board meeting.
Sincular-Mertens, who has taught science at BHS for 24 years, said the possible cuts will impact her black students as well. She says there are twelve African-American males in her AP classes and that her four environmental science classes are 17.5 percent African American and 13.9 percent Latino. "As teachers, we are greatly saddened at the thought of losing the opportunity to help all of our students master the skills they need to find satisfaction and success in their education," she told the board.

The full plan to close the racial achievement gap by altering the structure of the high school is known as the High School Redesign. It will come before the Berkeley School Board as an information item at its January 13 meeting. Generally, such agenda items are passed without debate, but if the school board chooses to play a more direct role in the High School Redesign, it could bring the item back as an action item at a future meeting.

School district spokesman Mark Coplan directed inquiries about the redesign to Richard Ng, the principal's assistant at Berkeley High and member of the School Governance Council. Ng did not return repeated calls for comment.
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Mojoey's Hypocrisy Watch

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mojoey at Deep Thoughts has been tracking pastors, prophets, priests and other religious personalities for a few years through his Hypocrisy Watch. Since I started reading Mojoey's blog I have looked forward to his Hypocrisy Watch posts to see who has reached a new low in religion.

A couple of months ago I asked Mojoey if I could map his Hypocrisy Watch posts. Unfortunately, he said yes. So, for the last month or so I have been mapping all his posts from August until now. Next I will be mapping the the posts from July back to at least the beginning of 2009. Mojoey has posted the Hypocrisy Watch map on Deep Thoughts for all to view.

During the making of the map I found that despite all of the posts being made by Mojoey there are many, many more religious offenders out there needing to be exposed.
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National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools

Sunday, December 27, 2009
This just scares the shit out of me. Although, I know this is supposed to be taught in an historical context I feel it is just a prelude to Intelligent Design or Creationism. I don't care if the course is an elective or not there are already many text books and history classes that teach religion (not just the Christian one) in an historical context. My daughters current world history class teaches religion in an appropriate historical manner without the need for a "bible class".
Its coming back and its our constitutional right!

Dear Friend

A program is underway to serve the public through educational efforts concerning a First Amendment right and religious freedom issue. This is to bring a state certified Bible course (elective) into the public high schools nationwide.

The curriculum for the program shows a concern to convey the content of the Bible as compared to literature and history. The program is concerned with education rather than indoctrination of students. The central approach of the class is simply to study the Bible as a foundation document of society, and that approach is altogether appropriate in a comprehensive program of secular education.

Portrait of Elizabeth RidenourThe world is watching to see if we will be motivated to impact our culture, to deal with the moral crises in our society, and reclaim our families and children.

Please help us to restore our religious and civil liberties in this nation.

President's Signature

Elizabeth Ridenour
President NCBCPS
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Merry Christmas All

Thursday, December 24, 2009
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New Y...Image via Wikipedia
Why am I wishing all a Merry Christmas? Well it's not because I suddenly believe in Christmas. It is because it is Christmas day and it is appropriate to say Merry Christmas, at least to Christians. Likewise it is appropriate to say Happy Hannukah or Ramadan Kareem on their respective holidays.

Christmas is a day and not a season so the only time it should be appropriate to say Merry Christmas is on Christmas day. We don't go around saying Happy Easter for weeks or months prior. Nor do we say Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Fourth of July or Viva Cinco de Mayo for weeks or months prior.

If there is any real "War on Christmas" it is over the complete hijacking of the months of November and December as "Christmas".
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Religious Conservatives Praying for Death and Failure

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
"Praying Hands" (study for an Apostl...Image via Wikipedia
What is with the Christian tactic of praying for someone's death or failure?

Recently, religious conservatives have taken to praying for someone's death or at least for them fail. A few recent examples of this Christian virtue at work:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)  Proposes a Prayer on the Senate Floor
Conservatives Pray for Obama's Death
DeMint Attends Prayercast to Defeat Health Care Bill
Michelle Bachman: Prayer and Fasting will Defeat Health Care Reform  
Rush Prays For Obama's Failure

I think, like gun control, we should have a seven day waiting period for prayer.
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No 2 Religion Disclosure Policy

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
This policy is valid from 22 December 2009

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Trust us were Christian

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
What is wrong with these people? These people have violated the children's and  parent's most basic trust; to care for them as there own. What is sad is that many of these parents will continue to take there children to this "Christian" day care.

Sleep drug allegedly in daycare's candy

CINCINNATI, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Employees at a Cincinnati church's day care allegedly gave children candy laced with an over-the-counter sleeping aid, police said.

Parents whose children attend the daycare were sent a letter Monday informing them that Covenant Apostolic Church's day care officials were investigating the allegation that melatonin was present in candy administered to the children, the Cincinnati Enquirer said.

Church officials said those employees no longer work at the day care, but have not commented further, the newspaper said.

Possible side effects of melatonin are dizziness, headaches, abdominal discomfort, confusion, sleepwalking and nightmares, the Mayo Clinic said.


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It May Not Be Alright But It Is Not All Wrong

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Democratic Party logoImage via Wikipedia
Paul Fidalgo of Bloc Raisonneur and a Secularism Examiner laments in a recent post at Bloc Raisonneur that

Maybe It's Not Alright

At some point over the past month or so, my credulity reached its breaking point. A confluence of disparate events has saturated me with a feeling of hopelessness about the state of our democracy, our media, our ability to address real crises -- not just problems, crises -- with our politics and government. I have found it nearly impossible to avoid concluding that change is not coming to America.
Please read the remainder of Paul's excellent post, Maybe It's Not Alright.

Below is the comment I posted:
I too feel the despair, I too am angry.

Although, I place plenty of blame on Obama and the not-so-progressive democrats, I feel there is much more blame to go around on the republican side. We may have been sold on the hype of change that Obama promised but I think we were naive to think that everything could be fixed by now. Remember it took Bush eight years to fuck things up.

I certainly understand the apathy of voters and sometimes wonder why I bother. Well I bother because I can. Maybe I will make a difference and maybe I won't but voting is a right that many countries don't give their citizens.

While I have always voted I mostly didn't care about politics however, Bush changed that and I have become much more involved in the political process.

If all else fails, blame Canada!
 But after thinking about it for a while I realized I had more to say.
Since shortly after Bush took office I watched in horror as he dragged the U.S. goodwill and mostly good name through every mud hole in the world. However, much worse than what he did to us internationally, he pilfered, plundered and abused the people of the U.S.

A few years back I became involved in my union's local chapter. At first just as the web master because I enjoy building websites but then as Chapter Public Relations Officer (CPRO). As a CPRO I write the chapter newsletter, send information and communication to members, and interface with the media when necessary.

I just recently became the Regional Political Action Coordinator for my union. While I am still learning all that this position entails I can say that I will be my unions face for most things political in San Luis Obispo County, Ca. 

A few weeks ago I attended a two day Learn to Win 2010 training by the California Democratic Party, (CDP). The training is intended to help "activists in "red-to-blue" opportunity districts with the organizing, communications, technology, and finance skills they’ll need to help Democrats reach out to more voters and win these crucial local races..."

It was fascinating to say the least. While I didn't enjoy all aspects of the process, I enjoyed most it. Since I am a techie I particularly enjoyed the sessions on Using New Technology  - Twitter, Facebook, Blogs - and Online Stragey -  CDP's online campaign management tools.

At this point I do not know what I am going to do with all of this because I have no intention for running for any public office. But, I could see myself in a behind the scenes position on a campaign.

What I do know is that I can't be apathetic any longer. I need to be proactive and involved. While I often feel like Paul does, I do feel the need to try.

And if we can't turn this county around, Blame Canada!
So what are doing to change America?
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Alameda Board of Education - Update

Thanks to commenter and person in the know John Knox White, who also blogs for In Alameda at SFGate, it appears I jumped the gun a bit on the Alameda USD anti-bullying and anti-gay instruction. The BoE has decided to continue with Lesson 9 but in a step-by-step approach.

Read Susan Davis post at In Alameda for more complete BoE information.
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Missing Utah Mom's Family Prays and ...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

WTF!?! I understand, but I don't believe in, the praying part but what's with the fasting?
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Friends and family of a 28-year-old Utah mother who disappeared nearly a week ago are fasting and praying for her safe return as volunteers post thousands of fliers with her image on it.
Susan Powell was reported missing Monday under what police are calling suspicious circumstances. A prayer service attended by about 100 people was held for her on Saturday in West Valley City.
Authorities searched a desert area where husband Josh Powell says he took the couple's two young children, ages 2 and 4, camping last weekend in freezing conditions.
Josh Powell returned Monday night, after police had already received a call from relatives who had not heard from the Powell family.
He declined to answer questions from reporters Saturday.

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Alameda Board of Ed Backs Down

Thursday, December 10, 2009
Brown vs. Board of EducationImage by Shevralay via Flickr
Last week an Alameda County Superior Court Judge called parent's bigots for suing to have their kids removed from anti-bullying health education classes. This week the Alameda Board of Education backed down and watered down the curriculum. Now everyone is angry; Christian's don't want any reference to gay's and Gay's want more said about bullying. What a cluster f@&k!
SF Bay schools phase out gay-friendly curriculum

ALAMEDA, Calif. — A San Francisco Bay area school board will use broad lessons against bias to replace a curriculum against bullying gay people that had become a national centerpiece in the opposition to same-sex marriage.
The vote by the Alameda Board of Education on Tuesday did little to ease tensions in the island city near Oakland. A lawsuit and threats of recalling school board members accompanied debate over the so-called Lesson 9 curriculum adopted in May to prevent anti-gay bullying.
Gay parents in the community wanted their children protected from bullying, while other parents argued that elementary school is too early to talk to students about gay people.
The new anti-bullying lessons approved by the board, at the recommendation of School Superintendent Kirsten Vital, will be supplemented by children's books that explicitly address six specific forms of bias, including against gays.
"This has torn apart our community," said school trustee Trish Herrera Spencer, the board member most opposed to the gay curriculum and who opposed adding the supplemental books. She said the board's latest action did not take into consideration "the strong beliefs" of all in the community.
The 45-minute Lesson 9, which was to be taught once a year in each grade starting with kindergarten, sparked a lawsuit, accusations that religious families were being discriminated against and threats of a recall election against the three board members who approved it.
Vital said her recommendation was meant to counter complaints from parents opposed to the original lesson because it highlighted only one type of bullying.
"There is not an off-the-shelf, perfect curriculum that is going to work for our community," Vital said, explaining that she wants to solicit book recommendations, bring them back to the school board for approval in a few months and then work with teachers to develop accompanying lesson plans in time for the 2010-11 academic year.
Several parents said they did not trust a teachers' committee to pick books that would both satisfy gay and lesbian parents and parents with religious views that do not condone homosexuality.
"Freedom of religion is protected from harassment and discrimination from anyone. It may be of no consequence to some, but it is a very integral part of many traditional families and should be honored," said Kellie Wood, who has three children in Alameda schools and is part of a group circulating recall election petitions. "If we're all honest, the friction between two protected classes, in particular, will not go away."
Kathy Passmore, a lesbian mother of two, said she hears students using anti-gay language in her job as a sixth grade teacher in Alameda. She urged the school board to retain the spirit of Lesson 9.
"The children of gay families exist and are attending ASUD schools every single day," she said. "They are here."
Alameda, an island city that foots Oakland and is home to a Coast Guard installation and a former Naval base that is being eyed for housing, is the latest community to be divided by its school district's desire to curb anti-gay bullying and the concerns of parents who do not want their children to hear about gay and lesbian issues in school.
During last year's campaign to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in California, the measure's sponsors ran commercials featuring a Massachusetts couple who unsuccessfully sued their local district for the right to pull their child out of anti-bullying lessons that included references to gay households.
A year later, the same public relations firm that developed that ad developed a new one for the campaign to outlaw gay marriage in Maine focusing on a second-grade picture book that was part of Alameda's Lesson 9. The book, "Who's In A Family," contains pictures of families headed by grandparents, single parents and gay parents, among others.
A dozen Alameda families sued the school district earlier this year over its contention that parents did not have to be notified in advance when teachers planned to give the lessons so they could keep their children from receiving them. Last week, an Alameda Superior Court judge sided with the school district, ruling that a state law allowing parents to have their "opt-out" of discussions about human sexuality did not apply to Lesson 9.
Kevin Snider, a lawyer with the conservative Pacific Justice Institute who represented the Alameda families, said before the school board's vote that his clients would not appeal the judge's ruling if the school board eliminated Lesson 9. He did not immediately return a call Wednesday for clarification on whether the board's action satisfied that condition.
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Children Are at Risk in Their Own Classrooms

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Seal of the United States Government Accountab...Image via Wikipedia
Maureen Downey, who writes the Get Schooled blog at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reports on the problem of using restraint and seclusion to control students with behavioral problems. These students behavioral problems are often because they are emotionally disturbed, autistic or brain-injured. Most have difficulty in regular classrooms.

As someone who works in K12 education and often finds themselves in classrooms with these types of students I have seen first hand how problematic and disruptive these students can be. However, I have never seen a child restrained in any manner and the two types of seclusion I have seen are not like what is described in the article. The seclusion I have seen is a small (4' x 4'), doorless room in the corner of the classroom and larger (6' x 10') secured room with a window in the door. The latter requires someone to be in the room with the student or watching through the window.

I find it appalling that there are educational facilities so backwards that this can happen.

Unlocking a terrible secret of education: Isolation rooms and restraints

Today, U.S. Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)  introduced legislation limiting and regulating the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
It is long overdue.

(The two U.S. members have co-written a powerful op-ed on the issue at

According to Miller’s office:
A U.S. Government Accountability Office report released last spring exposed hundreds of cases of schoolchildren being abused as a result of inappropriate uses of restraint and seclusion, often involving untrained staff. In some cases, children died. A disproportionate number of these victims were students with disabilities.
“Something is very wrong when our children are at risk in their own classrooms,” said Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee who requested the GAO’s investigation. “In some cases, the abuses these kids are suffering are nothing short of torture inflicted at the hands of the very staff we entrust with their safety.”
In some of the cases GAO investigated, ropes, duct tape, chairs with straps and bungee cords were used to restrain or isolate young children.
Read the full article here.

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Oh No They Didn't

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Texas County mapImage via Wikipedia
Oh yes they did.

I can't believe that a school district has the gall to do this not only to this family but the young girl too. But then it is Oklahoma.

Monday, December 7, 2009
American Atheists sue Hardesty, Oklahoma Public Schools and the Texas County, Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department.

American Atheists filed suit in federal court today on behalf of an Oklahoma family who say their civil rights were violated by the Hardesty, Oklahoma Public Schools and the Texas County, Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department.
The daughter of Chester Smalkowski wanted to play basketball for the Hardesty Public Schools. She was forced from the team when she, an Atheist, refused to recite the Lord’s Prayer after a game as was required by the school. When the Smalkowski family complained about this unconstitutional practice, she was suspended. Further complaints resulted in criminal charges being brought against her father.
Chester Smalkowski refused to submit to a request from the District Attorney to move his family out of the County in exchange for the charges being dropped. His case went to trial last month, and he was acquitted of all charges by a jury. The Smalkowski children have been threatened and subjected to discrimination for the daughter’s refusal to participate in the prayer recitation.
The family is being represented in the civil lawsuit by Oklahoma City attorney Richard Rice, and by American Atheists National Legal Director Edwin Kagin of Kentucky who, together with attorney Tim Gungoll of Enid, Oklahoma successfully represented Chester Smalkowski in his criminal trial in Hardesty. Mr. Rice is a member of the Southern Baptist Church in Midwest City. Mr. Rice stated: “I have the right to pray, believe in God, attend church without fear of reprisal from any branch of any government here in America.” Co-counsel Edwin Kagin adds: “I have the right to NOT pray, to NOT believe in God, or to NOT attend church without fear of reprisal from any branch of any government here in America.” Both men, differing in their opinions in respect to theology, have teamed up to support the same legal and ideological position with regard to the First Amendment.
Atheists are not the only ones who would not want to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, traditional Native Americans, etc. would have problems with saying this prayer. Whoever made up that school policy might have felt that saying such a prayer after the game unifies the team. A common religion is a factor in social cohesion. But times have changed and even places like Hardesty, Oklahoma need to acknowledge that their community is more diverse than it was 50 years ago. And better to teach the young respect for civil rights and equality before the law regardless of belief, than to teach them to “go along to get along.”
If, in fact, the DA did ask the family to move in exchange for charges being dropped, he should be disbarred!
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Principal Gets Christmas Right

Christmas decoration at a shopping mall in BrazilImage via Wikipedia
Much to the chagrin of parents and at least one board member, Principal Erik Brown, has chosen to make Walsh Elementary School's Christmas celebration into a Winter Festival.

Principal Under Fire Over Christmas Spirit

Updated 11:27 AM EST, Tue, Dec 8, 2009
A Waterbury principal won’t be getting a holiday card from some parents this year. Erik Brown, of Walsh Elementary School, is being criticized for his downplaying of Christmas symbols.
"If a symbol of Christmas takes away from the joy and spirit of Christmas, then those symbols have to go," Brown told the Republican American. "I'm going to pick kids over the symbols of Christmas."
The hubbub began last week, when Board of Education member Paul D’Angelo told others about his plan to get Brown to allow teachers the freedom to celebrate the holiday, the paper reports. D'Angelo also circulated a policy proposal to the Board on Monday that would allow educators freedom to observe holidays as they saw fit.
Soon after, a firestorm of complaints ensued. The elementary school has received endless e-mails and calls from as far away as Delaware, the Rep-Am reports. And it's been covered all over,  including in the Digital Journal.
The messages were nasty and, according to school staff, one person on the other line said “Merry (expletive) Christmas.”
So far, the district has no official policy and principals in the city's 30 schools and educational programs decide what's appropriate.
"As long as the line is not crossed between "teaching" about a holiday and "endorsing" the religion, this is acceptable, but no public school should promote any religious observance," the holiday gatherings memo on the school district Web site says.
Principal Brown says Jehovah's Witnesses are a big part of their school. They find secular Christmas decorations like Santa offensive distractions from Christ. Other parents agree.
"It's ridiculous," said Lisa Enwerem, who attended a student awards ceremony Monday. "There is separation of church and state, and this is a public school."
On the other hand, many other parents thought extra focus on Christmas would be nice.  Walsh parents and teachers who have spoken out on the issue seem to support Brown.
Walsh's upcoming "Winter Festival" will include songs from Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Christmas. Shortly after becoming principal, Brown ditched Santa Claus to have someone dressed as Frosty the Snowman pass out gifts at the festival.
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I Pledge Allegiance to...

Monday, December 7, 2009
American Flag (also a jigsaw puzzle )Image by uhuru1701 via Flickr
No one.

At least not an imaginary being. Kevin Fobbs of Renew America would have us believe that without God in our Pledge of Allegiance America would lose it's soul. Now this may have been the case at some time but America had soul long before God was put into the Pledge of Allegiance.

To me the soul of a nation comes from it's people, not from some words contained in an archaic practice. Soul comes from the melting pot of people and cultures in America and not all of that melting pot believes in the Christian god or any god for that matter.

Hopefully, you can read this entire essay Kevin Fobbs without wanting to scream.
Keeping God in our pledge maintains America's soul

By Kevin Fobbs

Fifty-five years ago young children all across America walked into their respective schoolrooms and with pride bursting in their young chests they recited the Pledge of Allegiance. There was a new and deeper meaning reflected in the addition to this pledge — the words "under God" were inserted to read, in full, "one nation under God."

Since that momentous year elementary school students all across America have recited this pledge — some hoping that their teacher will select them to stand in front of the classroom to proudly lead the recitation. Yet deep within the hardened hearts of some in America — led by infamous atheists like Madalyn Murray O'Hair — a concerted effort began to tear God away from our children in public schools.

O'Hair's frontal assault, in her infamous and successful effort to take prayer out of our schools, also helped initiate the once-slow but now rapid-fire pace of the secularization of America — the effort to undermine and remove the character, principles, and heartland values of our nation.

Yet 50 years later many of us believed our heritage was safe when in June of 2004 Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the phrase "under God" may remain in the Pledge of Allegiance as recited in public school classrooms. Check that belief; it is not safe.

Just last week, on December 2nd, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit defending the constitutionality of the Texas Pledge of Allegiance which includes 'one state under God.' Attorney General Abbott stated, "Just as it is perfectly constitutional for Texas schoolchildren to pledge their allegiance to 'one nation under God,' it is also constitutional for students to pledge their allegiance to 'one state, under God,'"

To what end and for what purpose does removal of God from the state of Texas or from our national Pledge of Allegiance or removing his son Jesus Christ from our public square announcing his birth mean? The hope of those who denounce God and denounce Christ is to extinguish our connection in our spirit, in our heart, and most importantly in our soul; as if God or Christ and the principles and values that they exemplify never existed at all. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Ephesians 1:14

William J. Murray, the son of famed atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, is a tireless crusader for religious rights. He leads the Religious Freedom Coalition: His latest book, The Pledge: One Nation Under God asserts that atheistic forces, spearheaded by the ACLU and Michael Newdow whose California lawsuit seeking to outlaw the use of 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance was overturned by the U. S. Supreme Court, are engaging in a religious cleansing of American society. Murray firmly believes these forces seek to "replace faith in God with an atheistic, secularist, and heartless philosophy that has no respect for the belief that the human race is God's creation."

William J. Murray is correct in his assessment, and I believe it is both interesting and poignant that we fully understand why we must retain God in our Pledge of Allegiance.

Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), a Baptist minister wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance in August 1892. Another person of the cloth was responsible for bringing the nation's attention to the need to amend it in 1952 and again in 1954, when "under God," was added. Reverend George MacPherson Docherty was the original advocate of adding the words, "under God," to the Pledge of Allegiance. It became law by an Act of Congress signed by President Eisenhower on Flag Day, June 14, 1954.

Reverend Docherty had a school-age child, as did the litigant in the Supreme Court case. The reverend was concerned about what the words were not speaking. Reverend Docherty was concerned as he prepared his text for his sermon before 500 religious leaders in Washington D.C. that there was something essential missing. He wanted to convey all of our strengths as well as the depths of all of our sacrifices as a nation.

He found the answer in his child, who had recited the Pledge of Allegiance in school earlier that day but without the phrase "under God." He felt there was no way to distinguish our pledge from any other pledge of allegiance to any other flag, say of France, Iraq or Russia. "But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." Mark 10:14-15

President Eisenhower, on whose watch those eloquently chosen words were inserted into our nation's pledge said, "Ought an individual be required to express a belief in God in order to express allegiance to our nation? No, but a responsible citizen should not be able to declare for all how allegiance to our nation is to be expressed. I find it almost impossible to believe that a non-believer in God is so threatened, so coerced, that constitutional protection must be granted and invoked — that his conscience is so broken by its utterance by others while he tries to express allegiance. How is 'under God,' to a non-believer in God threatened by those who so believe?"

That is exactly the question now as well. The phrase speaks to the very character of who we are as a nation and not to the simplistically crafted ideology that frames the phrase as an assault on the individual right of a parent to not have his or her child hear the words of the pledge because that parent believes that the phrase represents forced religion upon a child. President Eisenhower had it correct in 1954.

After the official congressional inclusion of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance the then-president, speaking before the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus in Louisville, August 17, 1954, in recognition of their role in originating and sponsoring the amendment to the Pledge of Allegiance, said: "We are particularly thankful to you for your part in the movement to have the words 'under God' added to our Pledge of Allegiance. These words will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man and upon which our way of life is founded."

At the very cradle of our nation's creation we were a nation founded on spiritual and moral principles and, as President Eisenhower said, clearly upon "which our way of life is founded." That is a statement that speaks to the character of a nation not to the religious purpose of creating a national religion. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance." Psalm 33:12

Helen Keller — deaf and blind from infancy, a leader in some of the significant political, social, and cultural movements of the 20th century — personified the spirit of our nation. She spoke about character saying, "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved." That is what "One nation under God" represents. It can be likened directly to what President Washington said when he spoke of our name "American," "which belongs to you and me in our national capacity and which must always exalt the pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations."

The words "One nation under God" is our standard, embodying the same meaning as the word "American." The two are inseparable and indivisible.

Now, 50-plus years later, tens of millions of Americans who have raised families — many of who are now grandparents — are seeing this wonderful standard, this shining beacon of light of our culture not only being challenged but with it the feeling that the heart and soul of America is being ripped from its core.

In actuality our forefathers, who were uniquely qualified to understand the tyrannical history of a forced-belief system, understood that prayer in school and home was an open embrace for all belief systems or none. You were never expected to follow one belief system; just respect that we, as America, have one history and belief system based on Judeo-Christian roots. Ms. O'Hair totally missed the point that prayer in school was an attempt at inclusion, at unity which would encompass all who came to our nation's shores as well as remaining open to the millions who would come to our nation afterward. She got it all wrong, and what has she wrought? What are we left with?

We are left with a concerted effort over the past several decades to erode the very fabric, the standards that guide us, and determine who we are as Americans and the type of nation we are, the history of our creation.

Today it is politically correct to abandon the essence of America and replace it with a secular ideology that erodes and tears at the heart and soul of American families.

What we are really seeing is not a separation of church and state from public schools by removing "under God" from our Pledge of Allegiance but the true separation of the symbol of who we are from our children and the world and nation they will be inheriting in all areas of the public discourse.

As Americans we should not be shocked, amazed, or awed by the slow slide of our social values when prayer was removed from the classroom. The lack of courtesy, common manners, and respect for our elders should not appall us.

Where do we go from here? As Americans who live in a nation under God, we must draw a line in the sand and say clearly and convincingly that this assault upon our values and the attempt to strip our heritage from our culture must end. "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." James 1:22-24

In closing, let me remind you of another true patriot and wonderful American icon Red Skelton. He was one of our nation's most beloved comedians and star of movies, radio, and television. In January of 1969, Red Skelton gave his personal view of the Pledge of Allegiance. He spoke those words on his CBS TV The Red Skelton Hour, in which he explained the meaning of each and every word of the Pledge of Allegiance,

At the end of his reading he spoke the most telling phrase of all, "Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said, 'That's a prayer', and that it would be eliminated from schools too?"

We must win the war for the soul of America. Our children's future and the future they will inherit depends upon it.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

One nation under God is America.

© Kevin Fobbs
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Oh Noes! My Christian Beliefs Are Under Attack!

Saturday, December 5, 2009
All I can say is I hope this teacher doesn't teach civics. Because she has no clue about the basics of Separation of Church and State.

Teachers want to revamp school prayer decree 

Vicki Kirsch, a third-grade teacher at Dixon Intermediate School in Milton, told a federal court Wednesday that an agreement to end officially sanctioned prayer in Santa Rosa County schools is at odds with her religious beliefs.
"My Christian beliefs are under attack and ... I wasn't able to do the things that I could do before the consent decree," she testified.
Kirsch's testimony came on the first day of a hearing in which a religious educators group called Christian Educators Association International is asking a judge to allow it to participate in the revamping of the decree.

In August 2008, two Pace High School students sued the School District and Pace Principal Frank Lay, saying school officials routinely pushed their religious beliefs upon students.

Last May, the American Civil Liberties Union, representing the students, and the School District struck an agreement to end the long-standing practice.

Now, the Christian Educators, representing 11 district employees, claims the decree is too vague.

U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers earmarked 2½ days this week to hear why the group should be able to argue for changes in the decree. The ACLU and the School District want the decree to stay as it is.
Attorney Horatio Mihet, who represents the Christian Educators, argued Wednesday that the decree fails to draw a distinction between what teachers can say and do in their official capacity as educators and what they can do as private citizens while in the classroom or attending school events.

"The only reason we are here is to ask for a seat at their table," Mihet said. "We are not trying to turn back 50 years of case law and allow (Christian Educators) members to return to the classroom and turn children into little disciples."

In more than two hours of testimony, Kirsch, a Christian Educators member since 1994, said the consent decree has made her uneasy about what she can and cannot say at school and at school events.
She said she's afraid to say, "God bless you," to a fellow teacher. She's not sure if she's allowed to let students talk about their baptisms in speeches to classes.
"My Christian beliefs are under attack and ... I wasn't able to do the things that I could do before the consent decree," she testified.
Kirsch's testimony came on the first day of a hearing in which a religious educators group called Christian Educators Association International is asking a judge to allow it to participate in the revamping of the decree.

In August 2008, two Pace High School students sued the School District and Pace Principal Frank Lay, saying school officials routinely pushed their religious beliefs upon students.

Last May, the American Civil Liberties Union, representing the students, and the School District struck an agreement to end the long-standing practice.

Now, the Christian Educators, representing 11 district employees, claims the decree is too vague.

U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers earmarked 2½ days this week to hear why the group should be able to argue for changes in the decree. The ACLU and the School District want the decree to stay as it is.
Attorney Horatio Mihet, who represents the Christian Educators, argued Wednesday that the decree fails to draw a distinction between what teachers can say and do in their official capacity as educators and what they can do as private citizens while in the classroom or attending school events.

"The only reason we are here is to ask for a seat at their table," Mihet said. "We are not trying to turn back 50 years of case law and allow (Christian Educators) members to return to the classroom and turn children into little disciples."

In more than two hours of testimony, Kirsch, a Christian Educators member since 1994, said the consent decree has made her uneasy about what she can and cannot say at school and at school events.
She said she's afraid to say, "God bless you," to a fellow teacher. She's not sure if she's allowed to let students talk about their baptisms in speeches to classes.
Benjamin Stevenson, attorney for the ACLU, reminded Kirsch that the cross was on school property.

"You said you put it there to remind you of the Lord?" Stevenson asked.
"Yes," she said.
"It would also remind your students of the Lord?" Stevenson asked.
Kirsch said she didn't know.

The issue

Rodgers reminded Mihet several times to focus on the issue at hand of whether his client has the legal right to participate in renegotiating the decree.

The judge became testy with Mihet when he asked Kirsch to repeat how President Barack Obama ended a recorded speech played for students earlier in the school year. Conservative groups decried the president's speech as possible indoctrination.

" 'Thank you and God bless America,' " Kirsch recalled the president's words.
Rodgers interjected.
"Why would you ask that question, Mr. Mihet?" the judge asked. "President Obama is not an employee of the School District and is not subject to this order."

Judge Calls Parents Bigots

Friday, December 4, 2009
Deport BigotsImage by Thomas Hawk via Flickr
An Alameda County California Superior Court Judge called parents seeking to remove their children from health education classes, bigots. The health education classes, for Kindergarten thru fifth graders, teach anti-bullying in 6 - 45 minute lessons. However, the parents apparently object to their children learning tolerance. Bigots.
Parents Take a Beating from School District, Court in Anti-Bullying Case
ALAMEDA, Calif., Dec. 2 /Standard Newswire/ -- A judge today slammed parents as "bigots" for seeking to excuse their elementary-age children from controversial pro-homosexual curriculum. The parents are being represented in court by Pacific Justice Institute.
PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider argued in Alameda Superior Court today on behalf of parents seeking to enforce a provision of the California Education Code that gives parents the right to opt their kids out of health education.  Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch lambasted the parents, repeatedly insinuating that they are bigots and insisting there can be no homosexual indoctrination because people are born that way.  The judge equated a view contrary to his own with creationism and called both false.
The legal battle over Alameda's anti-bullying curriculum has intensified in recent weeks.  Leading up to today's hearing, attorneys for the school district grilled parents in depositions about their religious beliefs.  Parents were asked numerous questions about church attendance, sermons they had heard against homosexuality, and whether they were aware that the Bible had been used to defend racism and oppression.
PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider commented on today's hearing, "We believe that this ruling against parents is inconsistent with the Education Code, and we are looking forward to continuing this battle until opt-out rights are restored on appeal, or the curriculum is changed."  Snider emphasized that the parents who filed suit support comprehensive anti-bullying instruction; however, they oppose the current elementary curriculum that focuses almost exclusively on homosexuality.  School records released by Alameda Unified School District show that bullying based on race and gender is far more prevalent in AUSD than sexual orientation harassment.
PJI President Brad Dacus stated, "Most parents do not want their first through fifth graders bombarded with pro-homosexual messages at school.  If LGBT advocates really want to stop name-calling and bullying, they should start with themselves."
About The Pacific Justice Institute:  Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties. Pacific Justice Institute works diligently, without charge, to provide their clients with all the legal support they need.  Pacific Justice Institute's strategy is to coordinate and oversee large numbers of concurrent court actions through a network of over 1,000 affiliate attorneys nationwide. And, according to former US Attorney General Edwin Meese, "The Institute fills a critical need for those whose civil liberties are threatened." "Through our dedicated attorneys and supporters, we defend the rights of countless individuals, families and churches... without charge."
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Public Schools December Dilemma

Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The only dilemma I see here is that Christians lay claim to all of November and December for Christmas. Christmas is one day yet they have a whole season. During this Christmas 'season' others celebrate Ramadan, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice but Christians see a dilemma with not having Christmas decorations in schools. 

Virginia Seuffert who writes for the Wednesday Journal of oak Park and River Forest on conservative issues, Catholic family life and home schooling writes about this 'December dilemma'.

  Virginia Seuffert
This column is being written right after Thanksgiving, when even atheists - who do not acknowledge the existence of a deity to give thanks to - are happy to soak their employers for a paid day off. We now move on to that special time of year when the local public schools wrestle with the "December dilemma." For those of you who do not pay attention to such things, the "December dilemma" is just how much Christmas should be put into Christmas in our public schools.
District 97 publishes guidelines for teachers that, on the surface, seem to offer a fair balance between promoting one set of beliefs over another without banishing religion entirely from Oak Park classrooms. To paraphrase, symbols connected to a particular religious holiday - the guidelines give the example of a Christmas tree - may be used as a teaching aid, but not as a classroom decoration. This enables teachers to avoid "promoting" religion in any way. Apparently there is some fear that a lit-up evergreen with shiny bulbs might be seen as an enticement to embrace Christianity.
While it would be wrong for government schools to promote religious faith, the rule is silly in many ways. Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Wiccan and whatever children practically trip over Christmas-themed decorations at shopping malls, beginning in early fall, and somehow manage to avoid converting to Christianity.
A recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights might just give us an insight into an alternative view of the "December dilemma." The court ordered all crucifixes removed from the walls of Italian public school classrooms as they might "bother" students of other faiths or no faith at all. The response has been extraordinary. The mayor of Sezzadio has set a fine of 500 for anyone who removes a crucifix from a public place. Officials in Trapani and Sassuolo have acquired dozens more crucifixes to display in their public schools. In Montegrotto Terme, civic billboards now display a crucifix and the phrase, "We will not take it down."
Italians are not particularly devout Catholics, only 30 percent attend Mass on Sunday, and that number dips to 15 percent in major cities like Milan. Italian Minister of Education Mariastella Gelmini saw the court's ruling as stripping away centuries of Italian identity. She said, "The history of Italy is full of symbols and if they are eliminated, a part of us will end up being eliminated,"
Contrary to the recent statement by the president, the United States was founded by Christians on Christian principles. Almost 80 percent of the United States' population is still Christian or Jewish. Other groups have arrived more recently, attracted to our unique religious tolerance. Our nation is built on a rich tradition, and our national identity is only enhanced by the occasional Christmas tree or menorah brightening up classrooms. They are part of what we have been and who we are now. Symbols threaten no one, but their loss threatens us all.
Merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah!

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Teaching Evolution Without Offending Creationists

Saturday, November 28, 2009
Is it possible to teach evolution to middle and high school students without offending their religion? University of Alabama professor Lee Meadows thinks so and has written a book, "Missing Link", to help teachers. Bob Sims writes about the professor and his book in The Birmingham News.

Faith and science: UAB professor's book helps teachers present evolution without offense

By Bob Sims -- The Birmingham News

November 28, 2009, 6:00AM
UAB education professor Lee Meadows grew up in love with science, but his conservative Southern Baptist upbringing left him somewhat conflicted.

  Meadows has written "Missing Link," a textbook on how to teach evolution without offending religious beliefs. "It's a book for teachers to help them deal with the issue of evolution with middle and high school students," he said.

  Meadows said he knows the student's perspective from experience.

  "Biology is my favorite subject," he said. "But evolution scared me off as a student. I was afraid of evolution from the first I heard of it. I don't know that I've reconciled it, but I've realized science has its own set of rules."

  Meadows, now a member of a conservative Presbyterian Church in America congregation, remains an evangelical. But he's forged a way to study evolution on the terms of science without compromising faith.

  "My faith is still important to me," he said.

  Now he looks at the issue through the eyes of a teacher.

  The key for Meadows, a former high school science teacher, has been "teaching by inquiry," a method he said encourages students to study the fossil record, tracing animals back through time and understanding scientific explanations of changes and apparent adaptations.

  "Teaching by inquiry is hands-on science on speed," Meadows said. "It's giving them the evidence, then seeing how scientists interpret the evidence. Inquiry always says start with the evidence."

  Meadows offers one cardinal rule for teachers: "Never challenge a kid's religious beliefs," he said. "I want teachers to say, 'What you believe the Bible says is really important.'"

  Students should learn science on its own terms, not as a competing explanation to religion, Meadows said. "Science limits itself to natural evidence."

  It's not necessary to mock anyone's beliefs to teach evolution, Meadows said.

  "Science teachers in public schools have two legal duties: they have to teach science, but they also have to care for the kids, as if they were parents for that hour," Meadows said.

  Public school science teachers are bound to teach the theory of evolution and the evidence that leads scientists to embrace it, he said.

  "Their duty is to teach evolution," Meadows said. "In a public school, they are barred from teaching creationism, which courts have ruled is inherently religious."

  Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was explained in his book "On the Origin of Species," published in 1859. Because of the 150th anniversary of the book's publication and the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth in 1809, there have been many commemorations of Darwin and his life and theories this year.

  There has also been backlash by those opposed to Darwin's theories. Filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin of Bessemer-based Erwin Brothers Motion Pictures premiered their anti-evolution documentary, "The Mysterious Islands," on Tuesday at the Alabama Theater. They did their filming in the Galapagos Islands, reviewing Darwin's conclusions and siding with another member of Darwin's ship, Captain Robert Fitzroy of the HMS Beagle, who disputed many of Darwin's conclusions.

  Meadows said that while many may object to Darwinian theories on theological grounds, it's important that students be given a solid science education.

  In his book for teachers, he recommends lesson plans that go to source material on fossils.

  Meadows recommends studying the work of J.G.M. "Hans" Thewissen, professor of anatomy at the Northeastern Ohio Universities, who has documented the evolution of whales. He directs teachers to the Web site

  "There is piles and piles of evidence for evolution, and scientists can explain that," Meadows said. "What the kids believe at the end of the day -- that's their choice."

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What Could Possibly Be Wrong With Handing Out Bibles In High Schools?

Friday, November 27, 2009
In an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Maureen Downey she ponders why Georgia public schools still allow bibles to be handed out. Downey goes on to give a little history or our "Christian Nation".
Handing out Bibles at a high school: Why do we keep doing this in Georgia?

The zest with which Georgia schools test the church-state divide never fails to stun me.
I wonder if other states grapple with this issue or is this unique to the Bible Belt?
With the threat of litigation, public schools ought to think very carefully about allowing any religious group access to students and the possible charge of proselytizing on school grounds.
Yet, a north Georgia parent sent me a note that Bibles were handed out at her high school last week. She is a Christian and reveres the Bible, but doesn’t think the high school was the right place to hand it out.
Her concern mirrors my own: Our schools are attended by students of all faiths and traditions. All those faiths and belief deserve respect. We risk making many students feel like outsiders when we elevate one religion above all others.
Consider the 1656 warning by devout Baptist Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, on the consequences of mixing religion and government: “God requireth not an uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity, sooner or later, is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls.”
More than a century later, Thomas Jefferson allayed the fears of the Baptist Association that the newly birthed United States of America was planning to designate a national religion. Responding to the worried Baptists, Jefferson wrote, “The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between Church and State.”

Many of you will argue that America was created as a Christian nation. But the 1797 treaty between the United States and Tripoli, written under President George Washington and signed by his successor, John Adams, says that “the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
But what about the phrase “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” on our currency? Both grew out of the anti-Communist fervor of the McCarthy era.
In 1954, politicians tacked “under God” onto the pledge; three years later, they engraved “In God We Trust” onto paper money. Concerns were raised even then about blurring the line between church and state, but no lawmakers wanted to risk casting a vote against God.

James Madison believed that the only way to preserve both religion and government is to maintain a safe distance between them. “The tendency to a usurpation on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded against by an entire abstinence of the Government from interference in any way whatever, ” wrote Madison, “beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect against the trespasses on its legal rights by others.”
Madison got it right. Too many of our schools are getting it wrong.

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