Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Surprise: Dowd gets it backward

This was covered in an earlier post, but rather than get lost in the evolution debate in the comment thread, I thought I would post it here.

Maureen Dowd, the poster child for Cafeteria Catholics, in her latest rant against religion states:
But exploiting God for political ends has set off powerful, scary forces in America:...fights over sex education, even in the blue states and blue suburbs of Maryland
If you are not familiar with Dowd's technique of deliberate distortion, you would assume that some conservatives in Maryland were violating the secular idol of church/state separation by opposing sex education or something. In fact, as Constitutional Law professor Eugene Volokh points out, the opposite is true: liberals are using public schools to endorse certain religious teachings on homosexuality, to the exclusion of others. In extolling a judicial decision that, amazingly enough, thwarted the liberals, Volokh explains:
This material, which the school would apparently be conveying as its own views,

1. Describes one interpretation of the Bible as "myth."

2. Suggests that the most important question in interpreting the Bible is what Jesus said, and that the Bible's use of "abomination" in different contexts should lead us to think that the items thus labeled are morally equivalent — not implausible claims about Scriptural interpretation, but nonetheless claims about Scriptural interpretation.

3. Implicitly — but I think quite strongly — suggests a particular reading of the Bible is theologically correct.

4. Condemns particular religious groups by name, not just as part of a discussion of history, but in an attempt to discredit the present religious teachings of at least some religious groups (quite possibly the same ones).

5. Specifically praises by name certain denominations — again, not just in a context which seems to be describing the facts, but one which suggests that their theology is more sound.
So, it seems that religion in public schools is perfectly fine with hypocritical liberals...as long as the religion discussed is in lockstep with their own ideology. "Scary forces", indeed.
Here is a taste of the curriculum at the Maryland school:

Myth: Homosexuality is a sin.

Facts: The Bible contains six passages which condemn homosexual behavior. The Bible also contains numerous passages condemning heterosexual behavior. Theologians and Biblical scholars continue to differ on many Biblical interpretations. They agree on one thing, however. Jesus said absolutely nothing at all about homosexuality. Among the many things deemed an abomination are adultery, incest, wearing clothing made from more than one kind of fiber, and earing [sic] shellfish, like shrimp and lobster.

Religion has often been misused to justify hatred and oppression. Less than a half a century ago, Baptist churches (among others) in this country defended racial segregation on the basis that it was condoned by the Bible. Early Christians were not hostile to homosexuals. Intolerance became the dominant attitude only after the Twelfth Century. Today, many people no longer tolerate generalizations about homosexuality as pathology or sin. Few would condemn heterosexuality as immoral--despite the high incidence of rape, incest, child abuse, adultery, family violence, promiscuity, and venereal disease among heterosexuals. Fortunately, many within organized religions are beginning to address the homophobia of the church. The Nation Council of Churches of Christ, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches support full civil rights for gay men and ! lesbians, as they do for everyone else.
Volokh had it wrong, and Anon#1 has it wrong. These quotes were not in the curriculum at all. They were buried in what are called "teacher background resources," which the board of education never even looked at. This is stuff NOT to be used in class, only for teachers to learn about the issues.

There was nothing in the curriculum about religion. Unfortunately, the judge was also confused in the hasty court proceedings.
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