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The Wisconsin Science Festival started today. The statewide science exposition/celebration runs Thursday through Sunday, with events held at various primarily public and non-profit venues. The festival is primarily weighted in the southern half of the state, although Wausau, Rhinelander, and even Madeline Island (on Lake Superior) are hosting some events. Laboratories, libraries, parks, nature centers, museums, and 6 campuses of the University of Wisconsin system are participating.

The epicenter for the festival is at the Discovery Building, a 3-year-old high-tech edifice in the heart of UW-Madison, occupied by two distinct organizations: The Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and The Morgridge Institute for Research. WID/MIR's mission explicitly includes public outreach, and the building has become Madison's primary venue for science fairs, educator conferences, middle and high-school STEM programming, and so forth. The first Saturday of every month brings "Saturday Science", when the first floor of the building -- the "Town Center" -- is overrun by mobs of kids, visiting dozens of demonstration stations associated with the monthly theme. On schooldays, middle-school and high-school students are often seen bustling about in little groups, taking a tour of the building and then taking the elevators up to the specially outfitted teaching labs on the northeast end of the building.

Today many dozens of schoolchildren were exploring the Town Center, which was packed with Science Festival demonstrations from 10 AM till 2PM. Perhaps some will return this evening, for Ira Flatow's "keynote" lecture (livestreamed here, along with various other interesting events). Tomorrow, more dozens of schoolchildren will fill the Town Center for day 2 of the exposition.

However, none of those children will be students from any of the region's Catholic parochial schools.

That's because the region's Diocese has forbidden any of its 44 schools (representing 11 counties and over 7000 children) from bringing their students to WID/MIR.

“Catholic schools in the Diocese of Madison may no longer participate in any activities, workshops or field trips at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery,” wrote Michael Lancaster, superintendent of Catholic schools. “Any plans to do so should be halted immediately, and alternative, morally acceptable means of meeting the educational objectives should be utilized.”
The reason? In addition to being an outreach facility, WID/MIR is a working scientific institute, and some of the researchers in the building work with human embryonic stem cells.

Yes, you read that correctly. Because some of the research going on in the building offends the Church's principles, the building and the educational opportunities it offers are off limits to parochial schools. Here, for those of you who feel the need, is the official fatwa issued by the High Inquisitor. I offer up for you this particularly choice little item:

While it would be possible to visit the Town Center and avoid participation in the stem cell workshop, attending only the other educational offerings that, in and of themselves do not pose a moral issue, the question becomes whether or not patronizing an institution involved in embryonic stem cell research causes scandal and collusion with evil
The deep, deep difficulty with the Superintendent's reasoning is that one of the institutions in question, WID, is for all practical purposes a component of the University of Wisconsin. Moreover, other scientists at UW-Madison, not affiliated with WID/MIR, are also studying stem cells. Is it thus the Superintendent's position that the parochial schools must not come to campus at all, so as to avoid "patronizing an institution involved in embryonic stem cell research"?

This position is so epistemologically broken that it cannot be fixed. The government of the State of Wisconsin funds WID. Shall field trips to the Capitol be discontinued as well?

Originally posted to UntimelyRippd on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:06 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive, SciTech, and Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  At least the Church is only torturing logic and (13+ / 0-)

    good sense and not people anymore.

    Tea Baggers Unite and follow that lemming.

    by OHdog on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:12:39 PM PDT

  •  The only thing that the Diocese wants (24+ / 0-)

    is the endless stream of school voucher payola that Scott Walker is giving them hand over fist (our tax money that ought to be going to our public schools).

    Side note:  There's a group pushing a bill for a state pro-life license plate with the funds going to a very shady group.  The Diocese likely supports that, too.

    The Catholic Church:  Denying science for centuries.

    Republished to Badger State Progressive.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:26:06 PM PDT

  •  funny thing about so many things RCC now holds (12+ / 0-)

    as Gospel, they are considered dogma or doctrine but they are relatively modern in their genesis.  Of course, the standard response to that is that they are "inherent" in both Scripture and the early church's teachings, only not articulated (I apologize if I am using the wrong terms for a few things but I really am not up to sourcing every term used)

    Therefore, stem cell is modern but was anticipated by the Church and therefore guidance exists though stem cell research itself may not be explicitly mentioned.
    HIV works the same way.  Health workers in several African nations, where men routinely visit prostitutes and where HIV infection rates may be as high as 60%, recommended that married couples where one partner was infected and the other was not should use condoms, not for birth control but for disease prevention.

    The RCC intervened, stating that the use of condoms, even for disease prevention, was sinful because there was the possibility that the use of the condom might prevent a pregnancy.  Instead, infected partners were instructed to put their faith in God and pray that any offspring be born disease free.

    Here is the RCC view on direct and indirect abortions:
    http://www.ewtn.com/...
    It is clear that science is outstripping faith in many arenas and the Powers that Be in many traditional faith communities have decided to bury their heads in the sand  

  •  Hm..... (6+ / 0-)

    Has that particular diocese talked to the pope lately?   {grin}

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead -

    by FlamingoGrrl on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:49:09 PM PDT

  •  Every Catholic student who attends UW.... (9+ / 0-)

    ...is lost money to the Church's overbuilt network of Catholic colleges and universities, so there's more a business angle to showing hostility to UW than anything even crazily theological.  Sooner or later they'll simply tell parishioners not to attend UW at all, which will leave the Church with an interesting decision about sponsoring Catholic student associations.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:49:35 PM PDT

    •  When I was young, it was quite common (7+ / 0-)

      for the Catholic church to discourage young folks from attending UW-Madison and its sister schools in Wisconsin. Fortunately, thanks to a couple of enlightened bishops of the Madison diocese, that nonsense was put an end to in the 1960s and going forward.  Under the current bishop, however, I could see him trying to bring that attitude back. It will fail, however, because far too many people today know better than to allow close-minded dimwits of the Roman clergy the ability to order their lives for them.

      "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." - from the prophet Jeremiah

      by 3goldens on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 05:05:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All the while the RCC continues to get tax breaks. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader, 3goldens, tobendaro

        And all those other secular goodies they partake in. I do think the new Poprah is helping Catholics to see how the Church can be at its best, or how it can thrive in the modern world. It only draws a sharp contrast with these awful politically overly involved Bishops who are making the Church look like a terrible place to rest spiritually or physically. RCC school enrollment is way down, American Catholics are running away as fast as they can. The only growth spot is Central and South America.

        The old hateful geezers and pedophiles have got to go.

        To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. Roger Ebert

        by lexalou on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 05:55:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What I think is very telling is that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lexalou, RonK

          a great many of the current Catholic bishops have lost total control of the real message of Christianity and/or any impact on their people and they don't even get it. They don't even realize that their disgraceful attempts to intimidate their priests and parishioners are falling on deaf ears. So, they're really in their own little boxes speaking to themselves. They went power-mad (just as conservatives always do), and now they're rhetoric is nothing but so much hot air.

          "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." - from the prophet Jeremiah

          by 3goldens on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:20:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  WWPFD: What Would Pope Frank Do? /nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, wader

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:58:33 PM PDT

  •  Robert Morlino, the Bishop of the (12+ / 0-)

    Diocese of Madison, is the one who controls the Superintendent of the Catholic schools in the Diocese.  And Morlino is a bat-shit insane, bile-spewing wing-nut. This move on his part is not surprising---it is, in fact, right in line with what a nutcase he is. Just last week he told a local Madison newspaper (The Capitol Times) that the media had "distorted" Pope Francis's recent words about that the Church should be focusing on being ministers of Jesus' love and mercy instead obsessing about homosexuality and birth control. Personally, I'm waiting for Morlino to slip a cog and rip this Pope publicly because his words and actions thus far have got to be putting Morlino into raging insanity.

    IF Morlino keeps pushing the nonsense about science that I'm sure he's doing, the Catholic schools in this diocese WILL lose students to the public school system. Catholic parents that I know want their kids to get good educations and not be blocked from learning about science. If Morlino doesn't watch it, his "parochial" schools will be filled with right-wing evangelicals' kids with whom he seems to have far more in common than members of his own flock. Of course, Bishop Bob just luvs him Scott Walker because Scott made sure that the vouchers are mostly directed to people who send their kids to parochial schools in this state.

    "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." - from the prophet Jeremiah

    by 3goldens on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:59:01 PM PDT

    •  The more things change ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JVolvo, RonK

      bruno4

      But wait, Pope whosis changed all that, Yoshimi told me so.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 05:36:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm sorry but I really don't understand (0+ / 0-)

        what your comment means. Could you explain it to me, please?

        "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." - from the prophet Jeremiah

        by 3goldens on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 05:45:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Old saying, the more things change, the more (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens, JVolvo, RonK

          they stay the same.

          The statue is Giordano Bruno, imprisoned, tortured and then handed over to the secular authorities to be burnt at the stake by the Catholic Church for holding opinions contrary to the Catholic Faith, stuff like a heliocentric universe, an infinite universe, etc.

          He is widely considered to be a martyr to science through he was really more of a philosopher, but, in any case, somebody who dared to think for themselves and who died because thinking for yourself has always really been the greatest sin of all in the eyes of the church.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:47:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you for the explanation. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            enhydra lutris, JVolvo

            It's rather interesting to me that Francis I is a Jesuit.  Jesuits have gotten in trouble more than once for daring to think for themselves. No wonder he's giving certain of the Roman curia (as well as the right-wing Catholic bishops) a really bad case of heartburn.

            "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." - from the prophet Jeremiah

            by 3goldens on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:17:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The Statue Is That of Giordano Bruno ... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens, JVolvo, RonK

          a "pantheist" burned at the stake for heresy in February, 1600. The statue is at Campo de Fiori in Rome and was erected in June, 1889 at the site of the burning. It was in response to/protest of the 1884 Humanum Genus encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, which condemned Freemasonry, among other "evils."

          "A famous person once said, 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.' But as I once said, "If you don't teach them to read, you can fool them whenever you like." – Max Headroom

          by midnight lurker on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:01:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  what ever happened to papal infallibility? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, lexalou, wader, JVolvo

      The Bishop of RI has also soundly criticized the new Pope's shift in emphasis. I guess if you've spent your entire professional life hammering on abortion and gay marriage and all that, it's hard to shift gears just because your uber-boss the Pope says so.

      I wonder if there will be consequences for Bishops who continue the right-wing rantiness, as there used to be for left-wing Bishops and priests and theologians who preached liberation theology.

      •  It's like a Democratic president (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader, 3goldens

        Any deference to, respect for the office is gone when "he' not our guy". I hope there are consequences too. But baby steps are called for, it's like moving an aircraft carrier to get the RCC to change direction.

        To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. Roger Ebert

        by lexalou on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:00:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think the National Conference of (0+ / 0-)

        Catholic Bishops has taken a hard-right turn because a lot of these guys were appointed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XV. I've thought for a long time that if the Catholic Church in the US ever split it would be due to Catholic liberals walking away from the conservatives who have been running the US Catholic Church for quite a few years.  Now, however, I'm wondering if the conservatives will be the ones who leave and start their own church that will be closer to the Protestant evangelicals. It seems as though Pope Francis I has the kind of leadership that could take the Church back to what John XXIII and the more liberal theologians envisioned back in the 1960s with Second Vatican Council.  I would dearly love to know how Francis I got voted in! It tells me that there might be a lot more liberals in the ranks of the Cardinals than I ever thought there were.

        PS Quick reminder that the Pope speaks infallibly ONLY in matters of faith or morals.  That happens very rarely.  What he's been speaking so wonderfully lately is simply in the line of a sermon---not an infallible statement.

        "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." - from the prophet Jeremiah

        by 3goldens on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:05:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, I hold Morlino primarily responsible, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens

      though the press release and coverage make it sound as if he just signed off on the deal.

      It really is head-slappingly stupid. I am entirely sympathetic to their argument about not wanting their kids to experiment with embryonic stem cells, but in fact, that's a very particular activity. Indeed, I have little doubt that the staff would have been willing to put together a workshop that used only induced pluripotent cells, created from various other mature cells.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:55:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for your diary-- (0+ / 0-)

        this really is a very disturbing move on the part of the Madison Diocese and its Catholic Schools Superintendent. I'm glad you pointed it out for people's attention.

        "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." - from the prophet Jeremiah

        by 3goldens on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 08:03:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Gallileo wasn't the weeping type. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Mike Kahlow, Bluefin

    He was the snarking type.

    He'd be dreaming up something pithy in response.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 05:54:59 PM PDT

  •  In most places I've lived, especially (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, Bluefin

    where the public school system struggled, the Parochial Schools were seen as the best education in town-classic, challenging, academically complete and not test based like the No Child Left Unscrewed victims. You could count on your kid getting an education that was truly college preparatory.

    Sad that its come to this.

    I wonder, if students who went to these events on their own time would be suspended or expelled.

    If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.-Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s

    by left rev on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:06:47 PM PDT

  •  The Immorality of Truth (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    is anathema to the Catholic Church, at least in WI, evidently.

    “Any plans to do so should be halted immediately, and alternative, morally acceptable means of meeting the educational objectives should be utilized.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:31:14 PM PDT

  •  Surprising they have science at all. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    My catholic grade school education in the 1960's & 70's had no science. Oh we had something called science, but it was mixed with catholic theology (especially since the nuns didn't know any science).

    I remember a nun tell us that since the bible said the snake was condemned to eat dust, that's what they ate.

    And I ended up becoming a scientist. Always was one to chase forbidden fruit! ;-)

    •  About a mile from WID/MIR, there is a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mike Kahlow

      pretty decent parochial school and QUITE liberal 4-year college (Edgewood). My guess is the folks at the parochial school are not impressed to be told they can't take their kids down the street for a science festival. My guess is that a LOT of the parents are similarly unimpressed, especially the very, very many of them who are not Catholic.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:49:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hell, why would the Catholic Church ... (0+ / 0-)

    want any of its flock living in a country like the United States that does stem cell research? Why stop at keeping them out of WID/MIR?


    My life is in total anarchy. I have no respect for my own authoritarianism. - UID 16382

    by glb3 on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 10:56:04 PM PDT

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