If you think creationists are bad today, you need to remember that things were far worse only a few years ago. In particular, it’s good to remember what we call the Kansas Crazy Days, when that state’s Board of Education was dominated by Kathy Martin and Connie Morris, who actually decided to re-define the meaning of science in Kansas so that it would include supernatural phenomena — thus allowing creationism to be taught in science class.
The reason we mention this is because the Missouri town of Oak Grove is only 30 miles from Kansas City in Kansas, so it’s inevitable that some of the residual madness from Kansas is seeping over the border. It’s in that context that we should consider this news, which appears in the Kansas City Star of Kansas City, Missouri.
Their headline is This KC-area school district has crossed the line between church and state, and it was written by the “Kansas City Star Editorial Board.” The newspaper has a comments feature. Here are some excerpts from the editors’ article, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
The argument over the role of religion and faith in public institutions has come to Oak Grove, Missouri. In a letter sent in early September, a group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation alleged that the Oak Grove R-6 district [school district, presumably] improperly co-mingles religion with district functions.
Egad — they’re co-mingling religion with their other activities. Then the editors say:
Mandatory faculty meetings open with a Christian prayer, the foundation says. A high school principal tells students faith “is of the utmost importance.” “Many district employees display religious symbols on school property,” the group says. Creationism is discussed. All of this appears to break the law. The Oak Grove district “has neglected its obligations to protect the religious freedom and rights of conscience of its students and faculty members,” the group argues.
After that they tell us:
Several district patrons have complained. That should prompt the district and its board to stop the practices cited by the foundation. [Yeah, sure.] Moreover, the practice dilutes religion. It removes what should be a family- and community-based endeavor and places it in the public schools, where faith can be misconstrued and misused by students and faculty.
The newspaper continues:
We [the editorial board, presumably] are not anti-religion. We endorsed the Supreme Court’s decision allowing public funds [link omitted] to be used at a private religious school in Missouri. We’ve called for repeal [link omitted] of the so-called Blaine Amendment in Missouri, which prohibits spending public money for religious purposes.
The Blaine Amendment was a great idea, and most states have adopted some version of it. Unfortunately, the editorial board has a very squishy attitude about church-state separation. Let’s read on:
This [the school board problem] goes much further.
They don’t explain that, but it doesn’t matter. Here’s another excerpt:
Oak Grove Superintendent Bryan Thomsen has promised a response to the foundation’s concerns. That answer is still to come.
That should be fun when it happens. And now we come to the end:
The district should avoid a costly legal battle over Christian teaching and symbols in the classroom. School officials should drop the questionable practices immediately, and return religion to the church or synagogue, where it belongs.
Interesting situation. We’ll be watching for further developments.
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