We found an article about John Kasich, the Republican Governor of Ohio who is running for his party’s Presidential nomination. It doesn’t appear that he’ll be successful, so we’re not writing about him in that context. But we’re interested in something he recently said about creationism.
Kasich hasn’t discussed creationism lately, but he definitely has tendencies in that direction. Back in 2009 he said he supported teaching both evolution and “creation science” in Ohio biology classes. We wrote about it in John Kasich of Ohio: Creationist. But he’s been far more guarded about his views lately — until now.
At the website of the Political Monitor, which reports political news in New Hampshire where the Presidential candidates are now campaigning, we read At town hall meeting in Bow, Kasich focuses on leadership. One item in that article got our attention:
Asked about the teaching of creationism versus evolution, Kasich said it should be a state’s choice, explaining that placing the power there gives parents the best access to effect change. “It is far easier for you to get your hands on a state legislature here than in the federal government,” he said.
That’s an interesting position to take. In the uniquely American political setup, education isn’t a federal responsibility. Constitutionally speaking, schools are strictly a state function. But are a state’s public schools free to teach creationism? This is where it gets sticky.
Most states, in their own constitutions, provide for separation of church and state. Approximately 37 states have some version of the Blaine Amendment, which usually provides that “No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” A few years ago we had several posts on a failed attempt to remove that provision from the Florida constitution — see Florida’s Theocratic Constitutional Amendment.
What about Ohio? We can’t find the specific Blaine language in the Ohio Constitution, but Article 1, Section 7 says, with our bold font:
All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience. No person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any form of worship, against his consent; and no preference shall be given, by law, to any religious society; nor shall any interference with the rights of conscience be permitted. No religious test shall be required, as a qualification for office, nor shall any person be incompetent to be a witness on account of his religious belief; but nothing herein shall be construed to dispense with oaths and affirmations. Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the general assembly to pass suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship, and to encourage schools and the means of instruction.
That’s a bit fuzzy, but it seems to do the job. Kasich should be aware that in his own state, public funding for teaching creationism would probably violate the Ohio Constitution.
Then, of course, there’s the First Amendment to the federal Constitution, which, if applicable to Ohio, would certainly outlaw using tax money to teach creationism. Originally, the Bill of Rights (of which the First Amendment is part) was thought to restrict only the national government, but using the incorporation doctrine, the US Supreme Court has been ruling that the federal Bill of Rights applies to the states. That’s because of the passage of the 14th Amendment, which says, among other things: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
So either way we look at it — using only the Ohio Constitution or by applying the First Amendment to that state, which the US Supreme Court would surely do — Kasich seems to be babbling theocratic nonsense. Ah well, that’s how things are these days. [*Mumble, grumble*] That’s why we’re a Curmudgeon.
Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.