Kentucky Governor Strikes Again …

“The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian Religion.” 1797, The Treaty of Tripoli, initiated by President Washington, signed by President John Adams, and approved by the Senate of the United States

Recently I wrote a post about Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin because of his ridiculous notion that the solution to gun violence was to have roving ‘prayer groups’ throughout the city of Louisville.  Today, I find I must re-visit Governor Bevin, for he has crossed a line that I find intolerable.

church-state“Separation of church and state” is paraphrased from Thomas Jefferson and used by others expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Governor Bevin is a former businessman, and apparently has very little knowledge of the Constitution, and the same must surely be true for the members of the state legislature.  For last week, Governor Bevin signed into law HB-128:

“AN ACT relating to Bible literacy courses in the public schools.

Create a new section of KRS Chapter 156 to require the Kentucky Board of Education to promulgate administrative regulations to establish an elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible, the New Testament, or a combination of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible; require that the course provide to students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy; permit students to use various translations of the Bible for the course; amend KRS 158.197 to permit a school council to offer an elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible, the New Testament, or a combination of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.”

The Kentucky House of Representatives is currently comprised of 100 members, 64 of whom are republicans.  The Kentucky Senate is currently comprised of 38 members, 27 (71%) of whom are republicans.  There seems to be a disconnect between the state of Kentucky and the rest of the nation, for most of us understand that religion is not to be taught in public, taxpayer-funded schools.  It crosses a line. Yet, this law allows Kentucky schools to teach from and about the Bible, a document that is unique to one religion, the Christian religion.

Within the United States, there are nine major religions outside of Christianity.  There are also a number of Native American religions, as well as those who identify as agnostics, atheists, secularists, or simply ‘unaffiliated’.  In fact, the percentage of Christians in the U.S. has dropped from 93% of the population in 1962 to just 70.6% in 2014, according to Pew Research Center.

According to Bevin, “The idea that we would not want this to be an option for people in school, that would be crazy. I don’t know why every state would not embrace this, why we as a nation would not embrace this.”

church-state-2According to the bill, the courses must discuss all aspects of the Bible — such as characters, poetry, and narratives — because they are “prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture.”  Excuse me, but only the culture and society of Christianity … what about the rest of us?

The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2) establishes that the Constitution, federal laws made pursuant to it, and treaties made under its authority, constitute the supreme law of the land. It provides that state courts are bound by the supreme law; in case of conflict between federal and state law, the federal law must be applied.

Why does it matter?  Apart from the illegality, it matters for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that non-Christian parents will almost certainly have strenuous objections to their children being taught another religion that may be contrary to their own.  Think about it this way … how would Christian parents react if they found their child was being taught the Qur’an in their public school?

It matters because religion is a very private, personal choice, and even among Christians, there are numerous sects who practice their religion in a variety of ways.  It matters because, while the intention of the Kentucky law is said to be simply to use the Bible as a teaching tool for literature, art, culture, history, etc., there is a fine line between that and pushing beliefs. It is, after all, Kentucky, one of the most homophobic states in the nation.

If there were to be any fairness in this law, then they would also teach from the Qur’an, the Talmud, the Tripitaka, the I Ching, and … well, you get the picture.  At this point, the schools would no longer be teaching Math, History, Literature, Science, or anything but religion.  We send our children to school to learn to think for themselves, not to be told how to think.

Then, of course, there is the taxpayer’s viewpoint.  I willingly pay taxes and am happy to support public schools, however I draw the line at paying for children to learn a religion.  Teaching religion is the responsibility of parents and churches, if the parents so choose.  It is not John Q. Taxpayers responsibility.

Mind you that I have nothing against Christianity, though it is not my own.  I also have nothing against Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Jain, or a hundred other religions. I believe everyone should have the freedom of religion, but also the freedom from religion.  When it becomes a part of public school education, or workplace mores, then it is taking rights away from some and it is tearing down the fundamental premise of separation of church and state.

The most likely outcome is that the law will be challenged in the courts and ultimately struck down as being unconstitutional.  That is the right and proper outcome.  However, it will take time and money – taxpayers’ money.

36 thoughts on “Kentucky Governor Strikes Again …

  1. Yes think of why the Pilgrims,Puritans …originally came to this country was to find freedom from the the restrictive throes of the English Church. Kentucky should upgrade their study of American History before they legislate their religious views.

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  2. Ah mirror world.
    The USA has no established state religion but cannot rid itself of the Evangelic Right, who seems to have this fluffy idea that the Old & New Testaments were actually writing in English, and by a board of commissioners too.
    Here we have a State Religion, but we are not allowed to speak about it in polite or progressive society, peoples’ heads start to spin around.
    The irony is that there is a vocal grouping in the UK who are anti-religious and cite the antics of the Evangelic Right as proof, and I try (Oh God I have tried) to explain that NO I do not believe the literal words Genesis, and if I did go to one of the Evangelic Right’s meetings I would be casteth out into the night (or shot at)
    Somewhere in between is a centre-ground.
    I try and spend as much time as I can there, ’tis a happy place of gladsome landscapes and people who don’t get angry at other people for being other people. You get to speak with animals and plants and spend your time doing things that hurt no one else. Many nasty people try and get in but they often fall down specially designed large holes and drop into quantum space. The few which make it I exterminate with my allegorical silencer added assault rifle and push the pieces down the aforementioned holes. Welcome to MY world 😊. (And there’s not a darned thing anyone can do about it!)

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    • 😀 😀 😀 As I may have said once or twice before, you DO have a way with words, and such a fun mind from which said words emerge! You make me laugh! I like your world … I like the idea of talking with animals … the furry, mostly four-legged kind, not the kind we deal with otherwise.

      You know … I think it seems ironic that, aside from politics, religion seems to be THE MOST divisive thing there is, not just in the U.S. or UK, but … most everywhere. People are so rigid, so certain that their interpretation of whatever tome they ascribe to is the one and only correct interpretation. Annnndd … they are so certain that it is their mission to convince everyone else, even in other countries, other cultures, that they must believe precisely as they do. ‘Tis what turned me off of religion many decades ago. A Catholic mother, Jewish father, and they sent me to Catholic schools where I was taunted as the “Jew-kid”, or other names that I shall not repeat here. I wasn’t even old enough to have beliefs, yet I fit nowhere, and all because of religion. And this is too bad, for I know that some derive great comfort from their religion, but for so many of us who experienced intolerance firsthand, it is not comforting, but tormenting. Ah well … enough of that. Perhaps I will just join your world and talk to animals and plants (actually, I already do that) and hope not to fall down one of the large holes! 😀 Thanks for the laughs, Roger … I can always count on you!

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      • I just realized that I failed to quite finish my thought on the irony of religion. The very thing that is supposed to be about love, supposed to give people hope and bring them peace … has caused many a war, and has turned many a friend into an enemy, started arguments, fights, and even led to murder. All in the name of peace and love. Ironic.

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      • My political incorrect solution is to catch the one making the taunts then use the insults heaped upon their ‘kind’, until they are distraught then ask them how they liked that? (I’m back in 1984 Room 101 mode).
        You most certainly would not fall down those holes, they only attract oafs and bigots, who can’t see the pitfalls of their stupidity.
        Karlyn talks to bees, butteflys and any other creature of nature she encounters she says she learns all sorts of gossip that way; you might think…Oh what a sweet kid, until by the time you’ve finished the book and checked the body count! 😀 (Ah those three girls, I am proud of them!)

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        • I KNEW I felt a connection with Karlyn!!! Ev’ry morning when I go out to water my flowers, I have a conversation with a bumblebee. I do not know if it is the same one every morning, for I admit they all rather look alike, but I believe it is the same one, and he gets right in my face, perhaps 3-4 inches, and I talk, he listens, he darts away for a moment, then returns, and we converse some more! I also have two adorable yellow birds that visit from time to time, and although they are a bit afraid of me, for I am bigger, they still come close enough for us to chat.

          Body count? Um … guess I better get to reading, huh? Sleep first … reading a bit later this morning, as it has already passed 4:00 a.m. and I promised myself a 3:00 bedtime tonight! 🙂 I simply cannot get caught up!

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  3. Oy Vey. The foundation of our nation is built from a very specific perspective and is worth noting for historical posterity and remembering the great lengths to which the Founders went to build a new and revolutionary new nation. Having said that…Enshrining our “Christian” roots is an indication of the U.S. to fail to adapt and evolve over time. Were we to try and shove our current state into the time capsule of 1776 we would be living in a United States dominated by Christianity; A place where slavery was still legal, women couldn’t vote, and you could still challenge someone to a duel if you were offended enough. I doubt very much roving prayer gangs would have tempered the spirit of Andrew Jackson or curbed the onset of the Civil War. I remain a person of faith.

    I wish more people of faith educated themselves on the Bible. All too often people take for granted that the printing press was made to make religion accessible to the masses, yet many of the “Sheeple” (hate that term) of the world will be more than happy to take TBN’s interpretation of bible verse. This however is best left to Sunday school at one’s respective church or specific academic coursework in Religious Studies at a higher learning institution.

    The arrogance of evangelical Christians in power really stretches the idea of separating Church and State (a concept even our founders understood to be dangerous. Sad to say, the evangelicals are gaining momentum and feeling emboldened by their Alt-Right Friends in power. The Ban the teaching of evolution…school prayer…banning hijabs…school bible study…I tremble to think what new absurd idea is coming around the corner.

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    • Yes, the Evangelical Christians seem to think that the U.S. is synonymous with their own religion, and more than once on the average week I remind readers that ours is NOT a Christian nation, but rather a secular one. As another commenter mentioned, the teaching of religion is, in many cases, in direct contradiction to the teaching of science, but then in the current administration science is disputed anyway. Sigh. Time to rip the blinders off the lemmings, methinks!

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  4. Boy am I with you on this one. First, as an atheist, and second as a taxpayer. Despite the “elective” indication, you can just imagine the social pressure that could be applied to kids, subtle manipulation by more aggressive Christian teachers. Not to mention the fact that to teach religion is to negate the science class in the next room. The two are mutually exclusive, so kids will be in the position of choosing one “viewpoint” over the other.

    [Dusting off my copy of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”]

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    • Good point about the juxtaposition of the teachings of religion and science! I had not even thought of that! And also about the Handmaid’s Tale … I read that many years ago, but had long since forgotten about it … quite apt in our world today, I think! And yes, the pressure from guidance counselors, teachers and peers would certainly serve as coercion, and I just see too much potential for abuse in this whole mess. Better to leave the teachings of religion to the churches and let the schools provide a true education.

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  5. Jill, the Constitution is often waved around like a weapon in contradiction to the words therein. The painting of God ordaining the signing of the Constitution is an example of this. Further, a litter context is helpful. The parents and even signers of the Constitution had escaped England which had too much church intrusion on governance. And, several signers like Thomas Jefferson were Deists, which means they believe God created the universe and leaves us to our own – the wind up the clock and let it run religion. Keith

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    • I think my fears on this issue are two-fold: First, that there is a great potential for abuse whereby young people are being told that xyz, as stated in the Bible, is the only truth, and that they should not think outside that box. The second concern is that the ‘Evangelical Christians’ are of the notion that our government is Christian, rather than secular, and as such would exclude all others. I just simply see too much possibility for abuse here, and I do NOT wish to end up living in a country that forces a specific religion upon its citizens. A bit of an over-reaction? Perhaps, but these are strange times, and my level of trust is somewhere very low on the scale.

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  6. Dear Jill,

    These actions by the right are going to keep lawyers with full employment. We are already litigating just about everything with DDT, and now we have instances like this as well.

    I am still waiting for one of the many lawsuits against DDT to get access to DDT’s tax returns which will do him in because it will show that he has too much debt and that he is not as wealthy as he claims.

    Hugs, Gronda

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  7. You are right, of course. This law conflicts with the intent of the founders. The one glimmer of hope I see in the law is the fact that this course will be offered as “an elective,” not a requirement. But in any case, it is a zero-sum issue: if students take this course they will miss out on something else that might actually help them learn to use their minds, though there are fewer and fewer of those courses offered in the schools.

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    • Yes, I see so many opportunities for abuse here. For example, students seeking the advice of their guidance counselor or most trusted teacher. Teachers and admin coercing, even peer pressure. I just see it as a slippery slope that could serve no purpose. But you are right … far too few courses are being taught that teach the things we were so fortunate to learn. Are we destined, in another 50 years, to have a society where nobody can actually think and reason for themselves? If so, how will complex problems ever be solved? Sigh. Overlook me … it is just one of those moments where my mind has bounced one time too many …

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  8. The cost of the court case or cases should be billed personally to the Kentucky Governor and Senate members. I can just hear DT saying, “Great law Kentucky has passed. Wonderful law. The Governor and Senate are to be congratulated.”.:D — Suzanne

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