I said it when the Gut-Public-Education-For-Derp Voucher Act passed in Louisiana by wide, wide margins. I said “I’m just going to let Louisiana cook. Let me get my popcorn for when they realize this money will go to Muslims too.”
First, they had to get stupid. There’s a series of conservative Christian “biology” textbooks that now are going to be widely seen by students whose parents now have vouchers to send them to fundamentalist Christian academies. These textbooks “teach” the Loch Ness Monster is real and that’s why the Earth is less than 10,000 years old and evolution is made up nazi-marxist libtard bullhockey. I have no idea how these people resolve things like parallax, light-speed, light-years and the like and I fear that if I find out, I’ll become stupider. Please don’t tell me.
Troutfishing has detailed these books in diary after diary. PZ Myers, a blogger I like, has also detailed them, and the Young Earth Creationist folks as well. What Kos has termed “American Taliban” is very real and while this isn’t the subject of this diary, these people are highly motivated, very angry, very rich, incredibly stupid-to-the-point-where-you-wonder-how-they-don’t-drown-in-the-shower, and still seem to have the attention of varying corporate outlets that are using them for their ends.
They’ve now realized that yes, Louisiana, Islam is a religion too, and it’s hilarious. Lemme pop some popcorn.
WATSON — Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools …Oh, honey. No.
'I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,' Hodges said.
Hodges mistakenly assumed that 'religious' meant 'Christian.'
HB976, now signed into law as Act 2, proposed, among other things, a voucher program allowing state educational funds to be used to send students to schools run by religious groups …
'Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,' Hodges said. '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.'"
Part of the problem is we elect any old moron to office without much thought, and it’s clear Rep. Hodges isn’t exactly firing all cylinders. Clearly she’s unaware, beyond whatever fetishization she has of the Founders, that the Founders belonged to a diverse variety of Christian sects, and some would be, today, lumped among the 60 million or so “non-religious”. I’m going to note here so there aren’t any fights in the comments that most of these 60 million or so are still believers in some type of vague, amorphous god/gods concept (deism and/or spirituality), but they’ve just (and this group continues to grow for reasons others have written about and studied better than I ever could) rejected organized religion.
She’s also clearly unaware that “religion” doesn’t just mean Christian. This is another problem that I find is widespread. While I’m not going to get into a long treatise on what is and what isn’t Christian (although I suspect Rep. Hodges gladly would tell us), I will note that it seems many people, perhaps too many people, count each denomination as its own religion. I guess it’s true some practically are—look at the mainstream Latter Day Saints for example. But Sunday Schools don’t teach history of religion even their own (especially their own), at least mine sure didn’t, and the number of encounters with people who do not know the history of their religion tells me that my mainstream church was likely not in the minority.
Rep. Hodges clearly believes “separation of church and state” is a liberal myth. I know some (perhaps more than some) churches DO teach that, and that nonsense is infecting textbooks all over. If she wants to believe that, despite it being absolutely and entirely wrong based on not only the Constitution but over two centuries of jurisprudence, that’s totally fine. There's no law against being an idiot. But here’s the deal: Louisiana cannot favor one religion over another. Rep. Hodges believes that her state simply can’t favor Catholicism over Jimmy John’s Snake Handling in the Blood of Jesus, Sinai Lord of Hosts Storefront Extravaganza. Oh, and perhaps she’s ok with synagogues since it’s now trendy to fetishize Israel among the conservative Christian set (see Sarah Palin and that tacky-as-ever-loving-fuck Star of David she wears, or Glenn Beck’s creepy sobbing over Israel). Nope. It means Jimmy John’s snake handling church gets lumped in with Our Lady of Perpetual Motion In Sorrows up the road, and Louisiana can’t favor those over the mosque just up the way from there.
And it gets even better. Louisiana can’t deny Scientologist parents from taking public voucher funds to send their kid to Auditing school (and if there’s one religious group that’s litigious as hell, it’s the Scientologists). If groups of Pagans, Satanists, Wiccans, Egyptian Polytheist Reconstructionists want to build schools, and there are parents who want to send their kids to them, they too can get public voucher funds. Wikipedia’s list of religions is long (and incomplete). All of them can get public funds. That’s what you voted for, Representative Hodges. Grow up and suck it up and live in it.
The second Hodges attempts to do what she’s implying here, I expect groups to rightly sue.
'Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,' Hodges said. '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.'"I don’t support using public funds for the teaching of any religion anywhere in any state. This is what happens with voucher programs, and why they’re a disaster in the making. If you open the sluice gate too wide, you’ll get a flood. So guess what, Rep. Hodges. You will be using public funds for teaching Islam in Louisiana and you’ll either get the fuck over it, or you'll create a bill to scrap your horrible voucher program and actually fix PUBLIC education in your state (LA consistantly ranks near the bottom of rankings, even doing worse than some third-world nations), rather than give up on it entirely and leave the education of Louisiana’s students to functionally-illiterate young earth creationists, and then wonder why high tech industry other than oil extraction avoids your state like the plague. High tech employers don’t want morons for employees, and that’s what you’re going to create.
But right now, I’m enjoying the show. The schadenfreude is tasty. It's nice being right, although it's sad that the reason I'm right is because too many hate Muslims. Freedom of Religion means all of Earth's myriad religions, Rep. Hodges, and it'd be nice if you and yours would get over it.