= This file was downloaded from a Christian occult = = BBS, and should be regarde
= This file was downloaded from a Christian occult =
= BBS, and should be regarded as suspect in areas of =
= factuality. The Christian cult has seldom displayed =
= any aversion to lying to achive their agendas. drice =
- By "Doug LeBlance," in Denver, for "World"
Christians are liars and extremists: That was a frequent
message from some participants at an early-May education
conference in Denver sponsored by I D E A, the Institute
for Development and Educational Activides Inc. More than
200 public-school teachers and administrators, along with
officials from People for the American Way, the National
Education Association, and other organizations, compared
war stories about-and planned defenses against-Christians
who seek an increased voice in education policy.
The conference was titled "Responding Democratically
to Religious Agendas: Right-Wing Pressure Groups and
School Reform. "But the other party to the democratic
dialogue, conservative Christendom, was notably
absent - although organizer Steve Thompson says the group
hopes to invite Focus on the Family next time. This
year's debate primarily was in-house. Plenary speakers
were equally divided between the amicable and the caustic.
Many of the educators spoke of "win-win solutions";
others seemed interested only in winning.
Frosty Troy, editor of the liberal alternative newspaper
_The Oklahoma Observer_, received the only standing
ovation of the conference. Troy, who portrayed himself as
a faithful if irreverent presence at Catholic churches,
attacked John J. Cardinal O'Connor of New York and
evangelicals who operate Christian schools ("Someday
God'll get 'em for using his son's name that way") .
Troy vehemendy opposed sehool-voucher proposals, arguing
that even cult leader David Koresh might have obtained
taxpayer funds "if he had wanted to run 'a little school."'
Troy spoke of public schools in sacrosanct tones. "One
of the things that really gets my Irish up is when the
religious right criticizes public schools as teaching
godless humanism[sic]," he said. "If you've ever read the
Sermon on the Mount, you know that the typical school
teacher is a living sermon" by dispensing hugs and
self-esteem to students.
Conservative Christians, by contrast, have a sinister
agenda, Troy said. "You know what a lot of them want?
They've nursed it since the day we desegregated schools,"
he said to applause. "You're talking about resegregation,
not just along race lines, but along class lines. "They
have a political agenda, and they're using a religious
rationale to push it. But what's new about that? Look at
what Hitler and Goebbels did in Germany. "
"That's a sick statement," Amy Stephens of Focus on the
Family told _World_. Other evangelical ministries
contacted for responses to the conference offered similar
assessments. Other conference speakers were more
measured. Fritz Detwiler, associate professor of
philosophy and religion at Adrian (Mich.) ) College,
discussed the theological foundation of conservative
evangelicals. Detwiler, unlike most of the sneakers,
recognized that conservative Christian activists operate
from a worldview. He classified the movement as
"theo-political," and warned against underestimating the
religious component ofconservative activism.
"Given the assumptions of the critics their worldview
is just as coherent [as yours], ' Detwiler told the
Deiwiler asked how many in the audience had read Children
at Risk by James Dobson and Gary Bauer. One person had.
Detwiler assured the others they could obtain copies
through their local libraries, so they needn't contribute
any money to Dobson's cause.
The Christian right is waging "a self-declared civil war,"
Detwiler said. "The civil war is not about getting their
position heard. Nor is it about creating an atmosphere of
diversity. 'The civil war is about power." Detwiler urged
educators to "push them [Christian activists] to the point
where their religious agenda is revealed," which he
believes will alienate most centrists.
Robert Marzano, deputy director of training and
development at the Midcontinent Regional Educational
Library in Aurora, Colo., acknowledged that humanist[sic]
and secularist vorldviews, or paradigms, are indeed
present in public-school curricula. He mentioned that
influential educator John Dewey was a self-described
secularist who believed religious beliefcould be
eradicated through proper education.
"There is, in fact," Marzano said, "a worldview that
educators have inherited, through our study."
Marzano said he had concluded that neither the humanist[sic]
nor the Christian paradigm could be proven true, but that both
represent a way of understanding the world.
"Coming to that conclusion, I can't tell you how
profoundly it has affected me. It was a tremendous 'aha'
experience," Marzano said. "I was very distressed with
this. But the more I think about it, the more excited I
get. The free marketplace of ideas is the safest place
Marzano and an official from the National Educa'on
Association had a testy exchange on whether a hypothetical
school should force hypothetical children to say the
Lord's Prayer. Some educators asked if they had to give
classroom time to the Ku Klux Klan or to neo-Nazis, since
conservative Christians seemed self-evidently racist and
sexist. One participant criticized what he called
Marzano's ultimate relativism.
Al Meloy, superintendent of the Adrian ( Mich.) City School
District recommended identifying critics and listening to
them with courtesy and respect. He said administrators
should avoid name-calling, should recognize real emotions
like panic or fear, and should respond cooperatively to
Freedom of Information Act requests and petitions.
Charles Haynes, executive director of the First Liberty
Institute, noted that "the First Amendment separates
church from state, but not religion from public life."
Haynes criticized _Tentacles ofthe Religious Right_, a
list distributed in conference packets by journalist Troy,
as "an example of how not to do this." He called on the
educators to be honest brokers of knowledge about rights,
responsibilities, and respect.
Haynes met with a mixture of indifference and hostility
from many teachers - his question-and-answer sessions were
among the most sparsely attended. One educator left the
room in disgist when Haynes said he did not consider Focus
on the Family extremist.
- Doug LeBlanc, in Denver, writing for World
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank