Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Next Out of the Tiny Car ...

Well, our friend from the great state of Tennessee, Republican State Senator Raymond Finney of Maryville, a retired (whew!) physician, is having second thoughts about a resolution he introduced that would require the Democratic Education Commissioner, Lana Seivers, to respond to questions as to whether a supreme being created the universe. After getting considerable attention, much of it doubtless unfavorable, he is now saying "This may not be the time and place for that."

There was a brief sideshow while another Senator asked the state Attorney General if Finney's resolution violated the U.S. Constitution by setting up a "religious test" for the position of education commissioner. It was pretty obvious that it did not, since, as the AG found, the resolution "merely requests" answers and imposes no penalties if Commissioner Seivers declines to answer.

Back to the main circus ring:

Finney lives about 60 miles from Dayton, home of the 1925 Tennessee "Monkey Trial" that pitted evolution against the biblical creation story and resulted in the conviction of biology teacher John T. Scopes for teaching evolution.
Mary Bolden, who has taught biology for more than 25 years at Maryville High School said of Finney's resolution: "This sounds like the Scopes trial all over again." She goes on to show that high school teachers are probably inherently smarter than any politician:

When I have students coming into my class with those kinds of concerns, I always say, I appreciate your perspective, but you need to be aware of the scientific perspective. ... Of course their religious beliefs are their beliefs and we're not going to be discussing religious beliefs in science class.
But this is the really revealing part:

"I probably made a mistake in approaching it from a creation aspect, which raises red flags," Finney said Tuesday. "People get so sensitive about whether children might be exposed to any sort of religious thing."
As far as Finney is concerned, the problem wasn't that he was ultimately aiming to have the state violate the Constitution by using taxpayer money to teach sectarian religion, it's that people caught on too easily and got "upset" about legislators who want to break the law of the land. In other words, he thinks the problem is that he wasn't sneaky enough.

There's the moral power of religion at work!

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