I live in Ohio, which is typically a pretty good thing. I'm right in the middle, on the outskirts of a decent-sized city, so I get to experience culture and diversity and things that stimulate my brain. But sometimes, I get reminded that I still live in OHIO -- the land of the redneck. Our state's leaders still feel very comfortable pushing their agenda on the Ohio people, no matter what any Constitution says.
Recently, a bill was passed by the Ohio House of Representatives. This bill would allow students to earn high school credit for off-campus religious instruction that they earn during school hours. Schools could not spend any money on this program, but would allow schools to approve the instructor and class times.
The two men who introduced this bill, Jeff McClain and Bill Patmon, both have a lot to say about how necessary religion is in everyone's life. They said that this class would build character for students. Yeah, so would a good reading of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, but you don't see that taught as a separate off-campus class.
The article about the matter from the Columbus Dispatch says that Patmon told his colleagues
"There's no prayer. I think we need prayer. There are no (religious) symbols. We need symbols."
Then he suggested that students with religion are higher achievers in school.
Now, even though the bill won't say that, we all know that these legislators aren't thinking about kids going to hang out in their Temple or Mosque during class. No -- they're once again showing favor to the Christians. Why should we give them credit for a personal choice that has little to nothing to do with their education? Why should we take away valuable educational time to fill their ears with bullshit? Most of the other industrialized countries in the world are beating us in test scores. Do you honestly think that THIS is the solution for that? Is this going to make it any better?
I don't know if this policy will pass, and I don't know how it will affect me as a teacher. What I do know, however, is that it's little things like this policy that slowly, slowly bleed into our educational system until Christianity finds its own damn little niche and won't leave. It's changes that happen -- "innocent" little classes, Supreme Court rulings that allow banners from school groups, prayers at graduation -- that are going to erode the rights that non-religious people have, little by little, until we are in a theocracy. I know that sounds extreme, but I worry. I really do.
I will keep you informed about whether or not this bill passes the Senate, and if it's ever implemented in my school.
This post originally appeared on Skepchick. Republished with permission.