Public charter schools culturally divisive, academically dubious

A federal district court judge in Idaho dealt a significant blow to the religious right last week by ruling that … Continued

A federal district court judge in Idaho dealt a significant blow to the religious right last week by ruling that a publicly supported charter school, the Nampa Classical Academy, could not use the Bible and religious texts as staples of its curriculum. This little-noticed decision was handed down by U.S. Dist. Judge Edward Lodge, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in the days when support for the separation of church and state was not a disqualifier for Republican judicial nominees. The ruling underscores (though this was not its intent) the threat to nonsectarian democratic education posed by taxpayer-financed charter schools that are, in many instances, a cover for pushing private religious and cultural agendas with public money.

The divisive effect of such programs has also been demonstrated in controversies, from Minnesota to Florida, over charter schools emphasizing Arabic and Hebrew language and culture. President Obama ought to take a close second look at all of these messy conflicts and reconsider his support for efforts to address the undeniable problems of American public schools by turning over taxpayer money to businesses, as well as religious and cultural organizations, with aims that are not necessarily in the public interest–whether those aims involve religion or self-interested empire building.

Before he signed on to Idaho’s charter school program, the Nampa Academy’s founder, Isaac Moffett, had parroted the religious right’s lament about the domination of public schools and textbooks by atheism and secularism. Moffett even said that his school was patterned after Hillsdale Academy, a private Christian school in Michigan–though the Idaho state constitution explicitly forbids the teaching of sectarian or religious doctrines in public school classes.

When Idaho’s Public School Charter Commission eventually told the academy that it could not include the Bible and religious texts as primary sources and receive state money–one wonders why they ever approved the school as a grant recipient in the first place–the academy sued the state for violating the free speech rights of students and teachers.

Judge Lodge, in his dismissal of the lawsuit, declared: “By selecting the school curriculum for public education the [state officials] had not violated Plaintiffs’ rights… Just the opposite, [the officials] had acted according to the laws of the State of Idaho and the demands placed upon them by the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. The Plaintiffs remain free to speak and believe what they wish…Here, however, Plaintiffs simply are not the master of the content of the public school curriculum in Idaho.”

The Academy, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund–a well-financed legal arm of the religious right–may well appeal the decision in search of a friendlier judge. The alliance’s senior legal counsel, David Cortman, referred contemptuously to “the so-called separation of church and state” in denouncing the decision.

This case exemplifies the folly of putting public education money into private hands. The proliferation of charter schools emphasizing Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Hispanic culture raises similar questions about the whether specialized charter schools are in accord with the basic purpose of public education. The mission of public elementary and secondary schools is not to imbue students with specialized knowledge of other cultures (regardless of whether those cultures are part of their own family history) but to teach them basic reading and writing skills, mathematics, science, what used to be called “civics” (meaning a working knowledge of American history and government, general world history), and, above all, logical thinking. Elective courses in many other languages and cultures are certainly desirable at the secondary level if a community wants them; schools that stress one foreign language and culture are not.

Parents who want their children to learn sophisticated Hebrew and Arabic should pay for those classes themselves, just as parents who want children to become better acquainted with the Bible or the Qur’an should send them to Christian, Jewish or Muslim afterschool classes financed by churches, synagogues and mosques.

But cultural divisiveness is only one of many troubling issues raised by the charter school movement. We have embarked on a vast and disturbing social experiment, running directly counter to America’s tradition of leadership in the expansion of free public education, without any evidence that privatized schools using public money (because that is what charter schools really are) work any better than public schools serving the same population. The educational historian Daine Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of The Great American School System, has become the target of sharp criticism from the right because she has abandoned her support for charter schools in the face of mounting evidence from dispassionate expert evaluations that the charter institutions do not provide a better education than public schools.

Charter schools, Ravitch has concluded, are performing no better than average public schools but are draining resources from a hard-pressed public school system. Furthermore, she notes that countries whose students regularly perform better than Americans on international tests are all distinguished by their robust public education systems–and a larger investment in teacher training than the United States is now willing to make.

Ravitch’s mortal sin appears to be a willingness to change her mind when new evidence contradicts a previously held position. Arthur E. Levine, a former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, lamented that while Ravitch “has done more than any one I can think of in America to drive home the message of accountability and charters and testing,” her change of mind “is extraordinary–and not very helpful.” Not helpful to whom? To people who have a psychological and political investment in pushing school privatization regardless of disappointing academic results? One of the curses of American public life today is the idea that there is something inherently wrong about changing a position that evidence has failed to support.

President Obama has made an enormous mistake by using his “Race to The Top” program to push states to expand the number of charter schools. He should take a look not only at the divisive impact of charter schools with an ethnic or religious ax to grind but at the mounting evidence that the much-vaunted superiority of charter schools is an article of blind faith rather than a conclusion reached after rigorous independent evaluation.

We are living through a period when public school budgets have been slashed throughout the nation because states are in tough economic straits (Kansas City, Mo., had to close half of its public schools to save money; teacher layoffs are raising class sizes everywhere.) What an utter misuse of American time, ingenuity and energy to create new, semi-private schools that waste our tax money, often unconstitutionally but always unwisely, by teaching children about the founding myths of Christianity or the glories of ancient Israel. We should not be rejecting but building on the heritage of a public school system that, from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, was–in spite of its many shorcomings–a model of how to educate and assimilate millions of immigrant children who would have had no access to a free education had their parents remained in their native lands.

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  • allknowingguy

    The doctrine of separation of church and state is well established throughout our history. I find it disconcerting that the fundamentalist christian right continues to try to undermine it to their own ends. These people want to push their narrow beliefs on the rest of us because that is what they think their particular brand of christianity requires. People of non-christian fundamentalist beliefs need to understand that these people will use this power not only to attack secularism, but other faiths as well, including catholicism, islam, and any other belief that doesn’t conform to theirs. Christina fundamentalism is a dark force in this country that needs to be resisted by everyone.

  • trumeau

    Perharps you are right, but that is a little bit weak to base an entire opinion (the dismissal of charter schools) on one case (the Nampa Classical Academy).

  • spidermean2

    Christianity is part of America’s History since it was founded by the Mayflower Pilgrims. One of the many contributions Christinity gave to this country was the establishments of many universities including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc. All but two of the first 108 universities founded in America were Christian.The Bible is a vital part of America’s history and therefore should be taught in in public schools.On the other hand, evolution should be scrapped coz clearly, it originated from ignorance of science.There are THREE valid reasons why evolution is false. I hope all evolutionists read this so I don’t keep on repeating myself.Reason no. 1 — it is impossible that a single-celled bacteria can become or transform into a two-celled bacteria or into a multiple-celled organism. There is no available science to explain such a fairy tale. This is the myth of evolution.Reason no. 2 – soil and water existed before any living thing existed. It is impossible that those brainless substances (soil and water) can form by themselves a very complex matter called plants and animals. There is no available science to explain that such a transformation is possible. This is the myth of evolution.Reason no. 3 — Science is the study of nature. Engineering is part of that kind of science. Engineers took many years to extract energy from sunlight and even at this moment they are still scratching their heads how plant leaves has been doing it for eons already. The level of intelligence nature demonstrates is just beyond human intelligence. The only probable explanation is the existence of a Supremely Intelligent Creator. With these THREE valid reasons, I don’t think I mentioned faith or religion. EVOLUTION IS A MYTH BASED ON REASON.A big portion of the liberal atheistic part of America will be destroyed. That’s the prophecy. Blame them on their own stupidity coz as I always say, Stupidity is self-destructive. The idiots are teaching their children how to self-destruct.

  • edbyronadams

    “Charter schools, Ravitch has concluded, are performing no better than average public schools but are draining resources from a hard-pressed public school system.”Most places where charter schools are popular, the local public schools are performing considerably below average. They are simply ways to extract their kids from a system burdened by poor students from unmotivated families. Money won’t fix that and charter schools are just a dodge for parents who cannot afford private school to extract their kids.The idea that a judge’s decision that condemns one school can be extended to all charter schools is a logical fallacy. I thought Ms. Jacoby was all about reason. I suppose that is just used to castigate her political opponents.

  • axglod

    “I hope all evolutionists read this so I don’t keep on repeating myself.”You have been repeating this same garbage for years. We all know that you will NEVER stop repeating yourself. Get over it. No one takes you seriously. Do yourself a favor and read up on photosynthesis and endosymbiosis. By the way, not one single person believes that you are an engineer. People picture you as George Costanza pretending to be an architect.

  • adrienne_najjar

    Take that, religious right!

  • joebanks

    Aside from the fact that separation of Church and State is fundamental to the Constitution and the founding of the US, it is inescapably clear that the funding of church sponsored schools and schools labeled as “charter” schools (often thinly veiled church schools) is detrimental to local public education. “Charter” schools inevitably sprout up in areas with poor quality public education and funds that should be going to fix and improve those local schools are siphoned off for their sake. This applies even to charter schools with clearly nonsectarian agendas. The District is a clear example as the poor quality DC public schools’ infrastructure and educating ability is well known. When combined with the highest cost per student ratios in the country and the perverse, self-serving reticence to improvement exemplified by the teacher’s union’s fight with Ms. Rhee, the frustration of parents is heart-rending. But while it is difficult to overlook the needs of children as we subject them to the life-crippling disadvantage of the poor education the receive, the money going to charter schools is taken right out of the have-nots pockets.Aside from that, it must also be argued that the tax exemption for religious organizations of all kinds is every bit as suspect, but if taxing churches is a sacred cow (forgive me) taxing both a church and a school is political suicide, especially in this age of ecumenical insanity. As has been shown, the hypocrisy of well-heeled Christian fundamentalists devoting their coffers to fighting the law over doing good works is clear–better to fight for a place at the public trough than live by principles. One has to wonder if the Nampa Academy could have skipped the lawyers and used that retainer in place of the public funding it used to get.

  • noHUCKABEEnoVOTE

    Is the BLACK CAUCUS funded by tax payers at all ? … just wondering.

  • OhioHunter

    I have no problem with schools teaching what their community approves as long as that community is fully funding the school.When a school agrees to accept public funds, however, they also agree to the terms that go along with those funds…a contract, if you will.To later decide to simply ignore or violate those terms should, to my mind, void the agreement, require the repayment of current funds and exclude then from receiving further funds.

  • joebanks

    Spidermean2 you sadden me. You speak like a mindless robot who parrots nonsense from TV preachers. Your self serving and idiotic tirade against science is truly objectionable–nearly as much as your heinous pride in your ignorance. Please think things through.Reason No. 1: Every single cell splits into two. It’s called mitosis.Finally, the Mayflower Pilgrims came to these shores to escape the state sponsored form of Christianity known as the Church of England. And, in case you hadn’t noticed there are millions of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus who find your chauvinism sickening. Your insistence on Christianity as the state religion is simply untrue and, once again, stupid and ignorant.I am a devout Christian and your fantasy version of reality is nothing more than blanket intolerance combined with self-serving stupidity. You can be a Christian and interpret the Bible. Using your brain is something God put us here for.

  • adastraperapathy

    I like your spirited and evidence and historically-based analysis of the need for public school education and the risks inherent in state-sponsored madrasahs (Christian or otherwise). However, I hate to think that most Christians who don’t agree with would have stopped reading this article (or simply dismissed it after reading) due to your identification as an atheist.

  • jonswitzer

    The problem is that my tax money which should go to my son’s education through county, state and federal taxes is used to indoctrinate my son in political perspectives, evolutionary dogma and social mentalities that are so sectarian that many of you reading this will immediately label me a conservative and rightly so. Your very negative strong reaction to my concerns reveals the very pervasive leftist, atheist bias in the current public school system that must be exposed. I say, great, get religion out of the public schools, great! But remove atheism and socialism out as well. Otherwise, the great nuetrality of the public school is a sham; a sham paid for by my taxes. If I want to protect my children from such indoctrination I am NOT free to take my tax money and use it for my son’s education, no, instead I must use EXTRA money all while my tax money goes to help you indoctrinate your kids as you wish them to be. Atheism is a religious perspective promoted in the name of separation of church and state and secularism. The state has NO business promoting it.

  • jonswitzer

    In fact, it makes sense that support for the public school system as is would be written by an atheist. The school systems promote atheism. It fits your bias. I wonder you are not willing to admit such glaring truth.

  • barferio

    Spidey your basic stupid premise that stupidity is self destructive is proven wrong every single time you punch a letter on your froth-covered keyboard.One often says about people like you: Only in America … but you’re not in America, you’re in the Philippines. Only in the Philippines could someone as densely moronic as you be seen as an engineer. Do the stone age people in your country really think you are an engineer?Certainly nobody here does.

  • Arggg

    Spidermean2: If you were at all an historian, you would know that the actions of which you are so proud and declare affirm the Christian founding of the US do no such thing. Harvard was and is a private university. The Constitution was drafted in 1787 and ultimately ratified in 1789 and the Bill of Rights was ratfied in 1791. The Establishment clause of the First Amendment has been used by EVERY religious group to prevent a “majority rules” mentality in public life. A Baptist can not be forced to say a Jewish prayer in a public school just because that school is attended mostly by Jews. One of the first challenges brought to the Supreme Court regarding tax support of religious institutions, was brought by Baptists. I suggest you do your homework.

  • barferio

    The mayflower pilgrims did not found America, they had no such intention. They left England (and Holland, did you know that?) to escape what they saw as religious persecution in their home countries.Arriving in America, they immediately began their own religious persecution. In fact their immediate descendants were hanging each other for being witches.spidermoron, you have to READ history before you try to use it to support your insanities. Read American history, and read more of it. I don’t know how much of it they teach there in the Philippines, but apparently it’s not enough.

  • MeatSweats

    jonswitzer, as much as you want to believe it, schools do not promote atheism. They would never do that because they would bring a firestorm of hate and anger upon them by the parents of their students. Teaching atheism is not the same as not teaching religion. “Your very negative strong reaction to my concerns reveals the very pervasive leftist, atheist bias in the current public school system that must be exposed.”No one is attacking you. Why are you already defensive?And if you want to teach your children about religion, take them to church.

  • barferio

    Generally speaking the parents of these children had the opportunity to be exposed to the larger culture in which they live than their children will.These parents learned evolution, and the same general history that the other children did at that time. They were able to deny it if they chose, after at least learning about it.But the children of these parents never will. They will come out of these religious indoctrination madrassas with only the limited knowledge their parents decided was “real” … then they will go out into society and be not only complete strangers in a strange land .. but profoundly, and I mean Profoundly ignorant of how the physical world really works, and even less capable of using logic than their parents.I’ll never hire someone who came out of a religious school. They’ll be unable to understand anything that requires proof, hard facts, analysis, logic … they will be useless for anything but proselytizing.

  • joe_b_stanley

    Education is an investment; public education is a public investment.Municipalities see public education as an expense; one among many that they must pay as a part of running a “government”. Although it’s somewhat understandable that they cut education funding (and other “expenses”) in order to balance an annual budget, it’s also terribly short-sighted.It might make sense to outsource some functions or skill sets of the larger education process to the private sector, but that has not been the focus of using charter schools. They have been used to carve out a wholesale replacement of a piece of the public process — and they are dependent upon public funds to do so.A good investment should have a long-range horizon. Even though we all want the “now fix” for our school children, this is not the way we should view the larger portfolio. Chartering is a re-allocation arrangement that is intended to prove that we can’t fix our own public school systems with either toil or taxes. What a shame.I’ve visited some great charter schools, but I was always more impressed by the public schools that implemented innovative processes.

  • jameschirico

    Teaching Arabic and Hebrew is by no means promoting religion, they are languages. A history class teaching about how religions were formed can reference Buddha, Mohamed and Jesus, but not teach the theology. While religion should not be pushed, it also should not be ostracized. We are a better people sharing culture than not allowing it. Public space for temporary shows of religious belief should not be stopped as long as opposition is given an equal chance at temporarily giving their views. The creiche during Christmas, the minorah during Passover, the crescent and moon during Ramadan all should be allowed as well as contrarian views of atheists. It is the crazy fundamentalists that would use hatred and violence possibly, but I don’t see it as too large a problem.

  • rcubedkc

    Religion shouldn’t be taught at all in taxpayer funded public schools and absolutely NOT in a History class. Maybe in Fiction or a Creative writing class alongside Easop’s Fables, Mighty Mouse and the Disney characters.

  • djah

    We need to live our Constitutional values and not subsidize those who would subvert them. No public funds to promote private beliefs.

  • etin

    The author states “[The President] should take a look not only at the divisive impact of charter schools with an ethnic or religious ax to grind” But are they really divisive, or just diverse? Do they really have a religious ax to grind, or just a religious viewpoint? Do we want a homogeneous society where everybody thinks approximately the same way about most things, or do we want a diverse society where even widely differing views coexist?There are costs to having a diverse society, just as there are costs to having a homogeneous society — no society is perfect. But a strong feature of the U.S.A. historically has been an emphasis on personal freedom. Do we want to give that up? (Also realizing that our history also includes much suppression of individual freedom, but at least the ideal of individual freedom has remained.)

  • prossers7

    IN RESPONSE TO: By Susan Jacoby,You, Susan, don’t appear to mind Billions and Billions of TAXPAYERS’ MONEY GOING TO THE UNIONS, DO YOU, DEAR? Which makes you a flaming hypocrite, Susan! Atheist and Stupid, to boot!

  • prossers7

    P.S. TO: By Susan Jacoby I just read my comment for you to my husband and he quickly responded: “And she doesn’t even have a God to ask forgiveness from.’ LOL

  • abrahamhab1

    The Godless Communists tried to “vanquish” us by their “ideology” and by force and threats of force, and they failed miserably. Now other Godless individuals are trying to subvert us from within by clamoring to delete the principals that made us the greatest power this planet had ever witnessed. If they not like the way we do things here they are free to go to China or at least build their own schools and call them “Progressive Charter Schools”.

  • rcubedkc

    Who are you married to prosser, spidernut?

  • Athena4

    Spider-nut must be using the logins Prosser and Abrahamab1 as well as his own. Taking a cue from CCN-Yeal’s playbook, no doubt.

  • DMBicksler

    With Federal judges dictating in so many ways that only godless theologies are permitted in government schools, those who believe in God are left with hard choices. We cannot worship any of the godless theologies that schools teach and demand allegiance to – the devaluing of students by teaching they are not much different from other animals, moral relativism, secular humanism, uncritical teaching of evolution, underage promiscuity, and the elimination of God from U.S. history by rewriting the textbooks on how the country was formed and preserved. All these “religious” teachings are reinforced in most government schools, with the support of Federal judges like this one. The only real choices parents who disagree have are to allow their children to be brainwashed in government schools, or homeschool, or enroll in a private school currently beyond the reach of Federal judges. These parents have to pay taxes to support the schools they disagree with AND pay for their own children’s proper education. This is wrong, and every time parents try to change parts of the school system from within a Federal judge like this one smacks them down. This proves the system cannot be fixed, and must be replaced.What is needed is a Federal law and/or constitutional amendment that forces all money for schools to be divided up by each student – and go with the student to whatever school or homeschool they choose. Instead of a school district having millions of dollars it chooses how to spend, the total budget should be divided by the number of eligible students (such as $16,000 per student) and go directly toward that child’s education where ever they go. If 50% of the students leave government schools for other alternatives, the school has much less to spend and must sell buildings and cut unneeded staff. Just like Federal college grant and GI Bill money is considered to be “for the student” and not funding religious schools the students choose to attend, so too would this money be for the student. The monopoly government schools have to spend so much money and educate so badly would be ended. The arrogance of school officials who pocket the money and treat parents badly would end. Parents in many poor school districts would be able to help their children escape to some other school, and have a future the government schools deny them. Parents would be empowered once the money followed the student, not with a small voucher but with an equal share of the school district’s total expenditures. Many schools would now be open to them, and some families taking $16,000 for each child would find individualized homeschooling an even better alternative. Let’s have freedom of school choice by mandating the funds go to the students instead of the school bureaucracies!

  • spidermean2

    In nature, efficiency is the rule. A single celled organism is the most efficeint of all and it will defy nature if it would try to evolve into multi-celled organism. It’s is NOT only possible, it also defies logic.Evolution is impossible and defies logic. Small wonder why evolutionists are close to the moronic level or even worse.Soon, we will see how these morons will self-destruct.Doomsday is actually a prophecy describing their moronic acts.

  • spidermean2

    It’s is NOT only impossible, it also defies logic.

  • Carl_Goss

    The author is right. The charter school movement is really about using public monies to fund the teaching of religious beliefs.There’s nothing new about this, the Roman Catholics have been trying to get public support for their religious schools for years.

  • spidermean2

    Countries which ban the Bible are the same countries considered as the most dangerous. This is a fact.They are the most dangerous because stupidity abounds in their places. So if you want to raise stupid and dangerous kids, listen to Jacoby.Let them be ignorant and teach them mythology like evolution disguised as science. “Soup” transforming into living organisms just because it stood there for billions of years? These people are teaching magic. Idiots always prefer magic rather than true stories like the existence of Jesus Christ.

  • barferio

    you religious folks are just too much. You’re so desperate for vindication that your religious beliefs aren’t the crap anybody who can think knows them to be, you need the thinking people to pay for your crap.take your kids out of school. Teach them to be little religious robots. Jesuslandia is just waiting for them, with a trailer and a sister to marry.

  • spidermean2

    There are two places on earth in which I think war is very imminent – Iran and North Korea.Finding a Bible in those places would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Instead of dropping bombs, a better alternative could be dropping Bibles in those places. It might cure some stupid minds.

  • RichardHode

    If there is anything the religious like more than to spout their nonsense and fantastic claptrap, it’s to get their snouts into the public trough and scarf the money. But it’s okay, they say, it’s all for your “salvation.” In my view, it’s fine to believe in “god,” the flying spaghetti monster, or any and all fantasy beings and imaginary sky-friends, just don’t make me pay for it.The Catholics at least should have no problems raising money for their schools. Just look at Vatican Bennie, their caporegime. The fellow is swathed in gold cloth, sits on a golden throne, eats off golden plates, and craps in a golden toilet. He is the perfect Goldfinger, the man with a Midas touch. The Catholics could use some of that gold to build schools for the children. (Yumm, young children – fresh meat for priests.)

  • spidermean2

    The “flying spaghetti monster” is not a myth. Let the idiots figure it out what it means.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    I’ve been following Diane Ravitch on this, and she is right on every issue. NCLB and national standards are a national disgrace. Not only have they shrunk the curriculum but they have dumbed it down to a degree hitherto unimaginable. In order to assure high pass rates, they teach what can be quickly grasped. Complaints abound, particularly from more capable students, but none of them are happy.Religious charter schools raise that old worry known as the Establishment Clause, and they need to go, the sooner the better.Meanwhile, the entire system is a disaster, almost nationwide. It continues to amaze me that we endlessly proclaim our commitment to education while we slash and burn already dismal budgets. Better trained teachers are not the answer. We have excellent teaching programs, among them, TC (Teachers College, Columbia University), which year after year graduates the gifted and talented, sick to teach. Within a year in the system they are out looking for other kinds of work.The system is a disaster.

  • Chops2

    Why does god need money anyway? If he can create a universe u would think he could create a bank account in the Camens………

  • theFieldMarshall

    AMEN!

  • citizen625

    The American Taliban is as ridiculously conservative as the guys in the Middle East. And I vote.

  • Hillman1

    These folks aren’t in favor of ‘religious freedom’. They are in favor of Christianity-only freedom.I guarantee you if a Muslim or Hindu school opened locally and demanded taxpayer funds these same ‘religious rights’ folks would be fighting to stop them.

  • Nymous

    I don’t want my tax dollars spent teaching kids about some magic dead guy. These people are crazy.

  • jefrix

    How about ending tax-funded schools – period. At least make vouchers an option, the argument that they are “untested” is bogus, and our public schools are tested – and have failed.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    I wonder if one might start a charter school for Flying Spaghetterian Culture. Or Disestablishment Culture.

  • Matthew_DC

    On this issue, US liberals and European liberals seem to be in radical disagreement. Generally in the EU the member states fund all the schools (incl. religious), as it was considered unfair that only the rich could afford access to certain schools due to fees, rather than examination. The national government imposes a curriculum on religious schools, but allows them to teach their religion as well. People can choose a religious or non-religious educations for their children without consideration of cost. In the USA, in the pursuit of a religiously sterile school system (as Jacoby advocates), religious schools are only for those who can afford them. This ties in nicely with the US class system, I suppose, but it’s hardly progressive. Look at the results: The EU generally has less religion in politics and more liberal social policies. The US is just the opposite. On this issue the US is very dogmatic, regardless of the general outcome for society.

  • asm_ith

    abrahamhab1 said “If they not like the way we do things here they are free to go to China.” By his reasoning, everyone could be telling him to leave the country since he doesn’t like things the way they are now. I’m fed up with people telling others to leave if they don’t like thing. Dissent is a critical part of our country. We have to get beyond telling those with whom we disagree to leave. We should be able to disagree without being disagreeable.

  • spidermean2

    Why are idiots afraid of the Bible? You travel around the world with a Bible and you’ll know that you’ve just landed on stupidland if they confiscate your Bible. Lucky if you won’t be jailed.America is being invaded by these same fools by restricting the presence of the Bibles in schools. Who says the Bible don’t use metaphors? Why would the idiots think that some spaghetti monster would destroy them?Amazing how idiots really think.Afraid of the spaghetti monster, they become the monster themselves.I was given a Gideon Bible in school years ago and it was that same bible that let me question the kind of religion I was taught in church.The truth will set you free. I just don’t know if that applies to idiots who think that some spaghetti monster will devour them.Figure of speech. Do idiots never heard of the the phrase?

  • spidermean2

    The Bible keeps on repeating its Doomsday prophecy. If it’s a fairy tale, why are people now afraid of the coming all out nuclear war?Why are people anxious of Iran getting nukes? Or North Korea? Let’s face it folks. You know that the Bible speaks the truth but just hate it to admit that you’ve been wrong all these years. Idiots are idiots and nothing can change their mind. An so, destruction (Doomsday) will overtake them.Ironic but it’s them who don’t believe the Bible are the ones fulfilling them.

  • spidermean2

    The Bible keeps on repeating its Doomsday prophecy. If it’s a fairy tale, why are people now afraid of the coming all out nuclear war?Why are people anxious of Iran getting nukes? Or North Korea? Let’s face it folks. You know that the Bible speaks the truth but just hate it to admit that you’ve been wrong all these years. Idiots are idiots and nothing can change their mind. An so, destruction (Doomsday) will overtake them.Ironic but it’s they who don’t believe the Bible are the ones fulfilling it.

  • Martial

    Although the argument against tax supported religious schools is forcible, far more persuasive is the destruction of the 501C in general. Why on earth does the US permit this nonsense? The only ones who truly benefit are the rich; the rest of us never reach the standard deduction. We give to our particular religious entity annually, so this is not a screed from an atheist. For some bizarre reason, the wife has continued to collect for our accountant’s annual perusal every single donation we make; on each occasion, the deductions simply made no dent in our tax bill. If religion paid its fair share of taxes, every one else’s would drop by a third. Let’s end this nonsense now.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Susan writes:”Parents who want their children to learn sophisticated Hebrew and Arabic should pay for those classes themselves….”

  • thebump

    It’s hilarious that the authoress, a self-professed skeptic and supposedly a civil libertarian, actually is in favor of government-run schools.If she had an iota of intellectual integrity (or capacity), she would demand the total separation of school and state.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    CONTINUED:In general, the brief argues that exceptions to sovereign immunity ought to be narrowly construed, not expanded beyond the limits intended by Congress.“Improperly subjecting a foreign state to suit can in some circumstances raise foreign relations and reciprocity concerns,” the brief asserts.Observers say that Lena may file a response to the Solicitor General’s brief, arguing that its legal analysis supports stronger action from the Supreme Court than simply sending the case back to the appeals court for reconsideration. Lena could ask that the Supreme Court dismiss the case entirely.If the case survives that challenge, the next step may be for the district court in Oregon to consider requests from plaintiff’s lawyers to depose top Vatican officials and to request access to Vatican records. Observers say that the district court judge in Oregon has seemed more inclined to support broad requests for depositions of Vatican officials than the judge in the O’Bryan v. Holy See case in Kentucky, another instance of the Vatican being sued for its role in the sexual abuse crisis.From the National Catholic Reporter

  • thebump

    The more one reads by Ms. Jacoby, the deeper one’s satisfaction that she’s on the other side.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    CONTINUEDThe brief does not address the substantive question of whether Catholic priests are actually Vatican “employees” for purposes of American civil law.The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act recognizes the general immunity of foreign governments to being sued in American courts, but also lays out nine exceptions, including the “tort exception” invoked in the Oregon case. It holds that a government can be sued for harms caused by its employees and agents in the course of performing duties within the scope of their employment.In the Doe v. Holy See case, a district court found that sexual abuse of a minor is clearly outside the scope of employment of a Catholic priest, meaning the things a priest is supposed to do on behalf of the church. Nevertheless, Oregon law also recognizes liability if the acts that led up to a harm being caused do fall within the scope of employment. Under that principle, church officials could be held liable if a priest’s normal pastoral activity created the conditions in which he was able to commit an act of sexual abuse.On that basis, both the district court and the appeals court ruled that the lawsuit against the Vatican could proceed.The Solicitor General’s brief, however, asserts that the courts are mistaken. The broader liability standard under Oregon law, the brief says, only applies if the court has jurisdiction in the first place – and, according to the brief, the tort exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act requires that the wrongdoing fall within the scope of employment.“A court may not use a state liability rule to expand the grounds on which the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act permits the court to exercise jurisdiction over a foreign sovereign,” the brief says.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    VATICAN NATION STRIKES AGAIN, or How I learned to claim immunity as a FOREIGN NATION, Nonprofit Status as a RELIGION, and manipulate the Congress as an UNregistered Foreign Lobbyist.Obama administration sides with Vatican in Oregon caseBy JOHN L. ALLEN JR.In a strongly worded brief for the United States Supreme Court, the Obama administration has sided with the Vatican in an Oregon lawsuit that names the Holy See as a defendant for its role in the sexual abuse crisis.In effect, the brief asserts that the standards for an exception to the immunity that foreign governments enjoy under American law have not been met in the Oregon case.Filed on Friday, the brief stops short of recommending that the Supreme Court directly take up the case of Doe v. Holy See, originally filed in federal district court in Oregon in 2002. Instead, it suggests that the Supreme Court set aside the 2009 ruling of an appeals court that allowed the case to go forward, sending it back for further consideration.Experts say this is the first time the United States government has officially expressed an opinion about efforts to sue the Vatican in American courts, as opposed to the pope personally. In 2005, the U.S. State Department recommended dismissing Pope Benedict XVI from a Texas lawsuit over the sexual abuse crisis, on the basis of a separate personal guarantee of immunity enjoyed by heads of state. The judge in that case complied.Friday’s brief was filed by the Acting Solicitor General of the United States, the top deputy to Supreme Court nominee Elana Kagan, as well as by officials from the Attorney General’s office and the State Department.The brief asserts that the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit made a mistake in ruling that a district court in Oregon has jurisdiction over the claim that the Vatican is liable for sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests.Though the legal fine points are complicated, the Obama administration’s brief makes a distinction between two questions:• The jurisdictional standards for suing a foreign government under the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act;Essentially, the brief argues that before a court can even consider the second question, it has to resolve the first – and that in the case of the suit against the Vatican, the standards for overcoming sovereign immunity have not been met.CONTINUES BELOW

  • ShorinBJ

    Got to wonder what spidermean2 is so afraid of. Possibly his own reflection, as he’s probably convinced it’s magic rather than physics.

  • spidermean2

    If one can invent a colorless or clear coat that can absorb light and you paint it on a mirror, you won’t se your image. Idiots don’t know this, do they?I love science that’s why I abhor evolution. Evolution is the biggest racket this modern age has invented.”Primordial soup” turning into brains are the types you read in comic books.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Susan writes:”Parents who want their children to learn sophisticated Hebrew and Arabic should pay for those classes themselves….”

  • ShorinBJ

    “I love science that’s why I abhor evolution.”Don’t you just love how in one sentence he can say how much he loves science and demonstrate his utter ignorance on the subject?Spidey, you have some cojones claiming you know better than all the scientists who have studied the origin of life. Love the soil-to-brains straw man. Another demonstration of ignorance — scientists have been saying that life originated in the ocean, not on land. And 2-3 billion years is a long time for life to grow more complex.And no, nature does not dictate efficiency. You can be as inefficient as you want as long as your genes get passed on. That’s it. Only requirement for the survival of a species: reproduction.Come on, what do you really do for a living? Clean toilets at an engineering firm?

  • spidermean2

    ShorinBJ wrote “And 2-3 billion years is a long time for life to grow more complex.”True science deal with scientific principles. What is the scientific principle or the algorithm that happen in a billion years to create life or turn very efficient organisms like a bacteria into a lesser efficient one?What is that “magic” hidden in time? Einstein’s equations can explain how a universe can form but Darwinian evolutionist has nothing except the phrase “billions of years”.Mythology, that is what it is.Mixing cement, soil, steel and gravel and wait for a billion years won’t make you a building. You guys are magicians.

  • gimpi

    Joebanks, I congratulate you on your well-written, civil and dignified response to spidermean2, one of this site’s resident trolls. Your response is lost on him, but appreciated by those of us who admire both logic and restraint. Well done.As to Ms Jacoby’s concerns about Charter schools, I share some of them. If nothing else, charter schools drain resources from beleaguered public school systems. They also further fragmentize our public school system, making fewer and fewer people feel vested in it. Charter private schools can often cherry-pick, not accepting kids that are harder to teach (such as students who need to learn basic English). That leaves the public schools with fewer resources, and obliged to take on the harder tasks. Eventually, any system stressed to that degree will break. I think, for some people, that might just be the goal.You see several people responding on this blog, upset that their taxes go to support a public school system that they feel does not reflect their values. They seem uninterested in the value of having a population with basic skills. I would suggest that the school system there to teach kids those siklls, not to pass along their individual moral or religious beliefs. I would also wonder why they feel they can’t do that for themselves. To those folks, I would suggest that your tax dollars don’t go just to to educate As an aside, I’m having trouble posting to this site. I’m going through Internet Explorer 8, both XP and Vista. Here I went through Google Crone, and was able to log on. Is anyone else having this trouble?

  • ShorinBJ

    “True science deal with scientific principles. What is the scientific principle or the algorithm that happen in a billion years to create life or turn very efficient organisms like a bacteria into a lesser efficient one?”Did you actually read my whole post? It wasn’t a long one. Efficiency is not the rule of nature. Ultimately, the ONLY thing that matters when it comes to the survival of a species is whether they pass on their genes. They can do this efficiently or inefficiently, as long as they do it.

  • ShorinBJ

    GIMPI, I’m fine using Firefox on a Dell with Windows 7.

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