Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, June 22, 2024


By now, I'm sure you've all heard that my former home state of Louisiana has passed a law requiring all public school teachers to post the Ten Commandments in their classrooms.  The argument, if I can dignify it by that term, is that the Ten Commandments represent a "historical document," not a mandate of religious belief.

Shall I refresh your memory about what the First Damn Commandment says?

"I am the Lord thy God; you shall have no other gods before me."

How, exactly, is that not a mandate of religious belief?

Others include "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain," "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy," and also "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, nor shalt thou covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his male or female servant, nor his ox, nor anything else that belongs to him," which has the added fun of being a tacit endorsement of slavery and the subjugation of women.

[Image is in the Public Domain]

The latest in this christofascist attack on separation of church and state -- a principle which, allow me to remind you, is mentioned explicitly in the Constitution of the United States, unlike God and Jesus -- is a sparring match between CNN anchor Boris Sanchez and Louisiana state representative Lauren Ventrella, wherein he tried to corner her on various points revolving around the secular basis of the United States and the fact that the new law is inherently discriminatory against non-Christians.  Of course, you can only corner someone with logic if they're arguing from the standpoint of facts and evidence, so it was bound to end in failure.  Ventrella did what the MAGA types always do; launched into a Gish gallop of irrelevancies such as what Sanchez's salary was, the fact that "In God We Trust" is printed on the dollar bill (neglecting to mention, of course, that it was only added in 1956), and ended with her solution for people of other religions (or no religion at all) to a clearly religious document posted on the classroom wall, which was, "Then don't look at it."

Fine, that's the angle you want to take, Representative Ventrella?  Two can play that game.

A teacher wants to put a Pride flag up in the classroom, and you don't like it?  Don't look at it.

You don't like books representing racial or religious diversity, or ones that feature queer people?  Don't read them.

You think drag shows are immoral?  Don't attend one.

You're against gay marriage?  Then the next time a gay person proposes to you, say no.

Or does that approach only work when you're trying to shoehorn Christianity into public schools?  

And more importantly, are these people really so stupid they don't see how easily their arguments could backfire on them?  

The problem here is that christofascists like Lauren Ventrella only want students exposed to straight White Christian... well, anything.  Fiction?  Of course, that goes without saying.  Non-fiction, too -- Florida's banned books list included biographies of prominent People of Color and LGBTQ+ individuals, for no other apparent reason than their not being about straight White people.  History has to be whitewashed to emphasize the benevolence of White Christians and downplay (or ignore completely) anything that casts them in a negative light -- or anything that brings up the contributions of other cultures.  

So they're not against indoctrinating kids; quite the opposite.  They love indoctrination.  They just want to make sure the indoctrination lines up with the way they were indoctrinated.

And that's not even getting into how the hell the leaders of a state that ranks 49th in education think this kind of nonsense is the priority.  Or the screeching hypocrisy of the same people who want the Ten Commandments on the wall of every classroom, and who claim to follow an incarnated deity who said "Let the little children come unto me," regularly voting against aid for underprivileged youth and subsidized school lunches.

Seems like the idea is keep 'em poor, hungry, uneducated, and brainwashed.

I hold out some hope that the inevitable lawsuits this is going to trigger from the ACLU and the FFRF will strike down this law as unconstitutional, but given the unabashedly far-right leaning of the Supreme Court, I have no confidence that they might not end up siding with Ventrella et al. on this.  The only thing we moderate and left-leaning people can do is to get our asses to the polls in November and vote.  Vote like the future of democracy in the United States depends on it -- because it does.

Otherwise, I fear that the christofascist takeover of the country may well be a done deal.


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