Public school no place for religious teachings

By Michael Howlett

February 5, 2014

Okay, time for a test. This question recently appeared on a science test given to a class of sixth graders at Nagreet High in Sabine Parish, Louisiana. All you have to do is fill in the blank. The question on the test was “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.” Now, remember, we’re talking science class here.

If you said atom, cell or big bang, you are dead wrong, or to put it in the vernacular of the sixth-grade teacher who asked this question, you are stupid. The answer is of course The Lord. I did mention that this was a science test, didn’t I?

Now, a question with that answer should never have appeared on a science test. The question and answer is one of religious belief, which is called faith. And what is faith? Well, “it’s the strong belief or trust in someone or something: a belief in the existence of God : a firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” according to the Mirriam Webster Dictionary.

Everyone is entitled to their faith, to believe in what they want. The First Amendment of The Constitution reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” and Article VI specifies that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The phrase “separation of church and state” is generally traced to a January 1, 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson, addressed to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut.

However, this is stupid, according to Rita Roark, the science teacher who not only ridiculed, but led her class in the ridicule of a student, a Buddhist with Thai origins. The aforementioned student, C.C., was ridiculed the first time he missed the question and when it appeared on another test, he wrote “Lord Buddha,” which led to further persecution.

According to her students, Roark went even further of her teaching of revised science, telling them the Bible is “100 percent true,” God created the Earth 6,000 years ago,” and evolution is not only impossible but a “stupid” theory. Oh, and of course, the Buddhist religion is “stupid” as well. My, my, that woman loves the word “stupid.” I get the feeling anyone who doesn’t agree with her, or any institution she doesn’t agree with, is “stupid” in her opinion. I guess you could say “stupid is as stupid does.”

When C.C.’s mother and stepfather went to see the principal, they were met by a Bible verse on the school’s electronic marquee and a picture of Jesus over the main entrance. Inside, they found religious pictures on the wall, and that school officials were passing out religious literature and leading official prayers.

Seeing this was a dead end, they went to the School Superintendent Sara Ebarb, who informed them that they lived in the “Bible Belt” and shouldn’t be upset with these activities, even if C.C. was throwing up every day and being endlessly harassed. No, it was good-natured kidding. Ebarb’s solution was that C.C. renounce Buddhism and convert to Christianity, or move to a different school. C.C.’s parents decided on another course of action, a lawsuit. Methinks the school district is going to a few fundraisers to balance next year’s budget.

Of course, things could have been worse. C.C. is a Buddhist, just think of what atrocities might have happened if the little fellow had been a Muslim; I might be talking about him in the past tense.

The point is the founders of our nation thought everyone should be allowed to worship as they see fit; that the government shouldn’t be allowed to force anyone to accept a certain belief. You can believe whatever you want, but other people get to believe what they want; that’s the way it works in a free country.

I am a Presbyterian, but I’m not offended by others who have different religious beliefs, and I don’t expect the doctrines of my religion to be taught in public schools, that’s what church, as well as the home, is for. In addition, if one wants their children to be taught religious doctrine along with math, history and English, there are plenty of private schools in the U.S. that will do just that.

However, if you desire government mandated teaching of religion, there is a place that can be found. You would have to relocate to the Middle East and you would have to change your affiliation, so to speak, to that of Islam.