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Archive for the ‘Religion In School’ Category

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They’ve voted to allow creationism to be taught next to evolution in the classroom

An Indiana Senate panel has approved a bill that would allow creationism to be taught in Indiana’s public schools.

The Times of Munster reported that the Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee voted 8-2 Wednesday to send the legislation to the full Senate despite pleas from scientists and religious leaders to keep religion out of science classrooms.

The bill allows schools to authorize “the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life” and specifically mentions “creation science” as one such theory. Creationism is the belief that the Earth and its creatures were created by a deity.

Purdue University professor of chemistry John Staver told the panel evolution is the only theory of life’s origins that relies on scientific investigations. He says creationism “is unquestionably a statement of a specific religion.”

As Professor Farnsworth said it best in Futurama:

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Just thought I’d mention that Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist blog has set up a fundraiser to collect money for a college scholarship for Jessica Ahlquist¬†(thanks to tinstag for showing me). Apparently it’s already raised $15000 from 600 donations. So spread the word, and better yet donate, to support this wonderful young lady’s future!

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Jessica Ahlquist has won her lawsuit against her school for displaying a religious prayer on a banner openly in her school. Hemant Mehta has written up a thorough post on things, which I recommend you read if you’re hearing this good news for the first time! Congratulations Jessica! A brilliant win for secularism and atheism.

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I only stumbled upon this recently, but it’s from a few years ago. It’s a video of Chuck Norris and his wife opposing the separation of church and state. Instead they think the bible should be taught in all schools as part of the curriculum. Chuck Norris is now the ultimate Chuck Norris joke…

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The Australian federal government has passed through an overhaul on the National School Chaplaincy Program. School Education Minister Peter Garrett has announced that secular youth workers will be allowed to take up equivalent positions as school chaplains as of next January.

However, this doesn’t seem to have satisfied Ron Williams, the father who self-funded the case against the NSCP heard in the High Court last month. He stated that:

It is still just as silly an idea as what it started out with.

I don’t think important things such as the mental wellbeing of our children should be contracted out to third parties.

If we do have children in dire circumstances in those schools requiring protection or help it should be provided by public servants … who are tertiary trained.

The main reason for Williams challenging the NSCP was related to how the program being funded by the government in the first place. These recent changes are effectively Minister Garrett and the federal government putting their fingers in the dike.

The majority of people opposed to the NSCP are more worried about unqualified people, whether Christian, secular atheists, or anyone in between stepping in to deal with the mental wellbeing of our children. This was never about atheism or secularism getting a leg up and over religion. It’s always been about what is best for our children’s lives.

Requiring secular youth workers as well as chaplains to complete a Certificate IV in youth work, which only includes a single unit on mental health and making referrals, is laughable really. These 100s of millions of dollars should be going towards tertiary educated counsellors, full stop!

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Here’s a wonderfully written account of the Williams v the Commonwealth and Others court hearing that occurred in Australia recently. For those who don’t know we’ve currently go a battle going on between the states and the federal Government who brought in a school chaplaincy program in the last year or so, however, that decision is being challenged.

The chaplaincy program is run by a group called Scripture Union based in Queensland, and receives $222 million tax payers dollars a year to fund ONLY Christian chaplains to go into any state school that asks for one. There’re already 1000s of them in our state schools.

There’s been a great deal of controversy over the decision, as a great deal of us, especially atheists, believe we are a secular nation, with church and state separate, and shouldn’t be funding chaplains to go into our schools and effectively take the role of a counsellor, which they’re far from qualified to do. If federal funding is going to go such a program it shouldn’t explicitly be reserved for Christians. Instead anyone with the interest, appropriate background checks and training (if it’s even required) should be able to do so. Currently that is not the case.

Many thanks to Ron Williams who’s self-funded this case against the school chaplaincy program, and also to Chrys Stevenson who took the time to travel and view the court hearing as it happened and keep us all informed on the proceedings. By the sounds of it we have the federal government on the ropes and reason and justice will prevail!

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