America’s education evangelist.

Yet more evidence that the current administration is trying very hard to turn America into a Theocracy comes from this BP News (Baptist Press) article.

WASHINGTON (BP)—Christian values should have a place in the nation’s educational enterprise, the nation’s highest-ranking educator said.

“All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. “Where a child is taught that, there is a source of strength greater than themselves.”

Appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2001, Paige is the country’s seventh secretary of education and the first African American to serve in the position.

“We are one year into this and it is a savior,” Paige said. “The state of our national education system is under-performing, leaving a large number of children behind—minority children, inner-city and rural children.”

Calling it a “grievous sin,” Paige said no child should be tied to a school that is failing. “A parent should be free to select a school that meets that child’s needs, whether it’s private, home school or public.”

Quality education can—and should—be modeled on religious values, Page said. “Religious values are wonderful values that we should embrace in our daily lives. I think it’s even more important that we embrace those values in our homes. We would have a much calmer, compassionate society.”

Oh boy. Where to begin with this one. I suppose it’s sufficient just to say that this whole article is just troubling, at least if you’re not a Christian.

As the chief spokesman for President Bush’s education policy, Paige shares his boss’s penchant for peppering speeches with religious overtones.

No shit. That makes twice today I’ve used that phrase.

“I believe faith is a good response to the problems we are facing in this nation,” he said. “I don’t think my job is to solve all the education problems in the world. It’s to work toward right solutions. The battle is never won. It’s only fought well.”

You would think that being the U.S. Secretary of Education his job would be to try and solve as many of the educational problems he can, but it appears he thinks wishful thinking in a supreme being alone is enough.

“My faith in God is not a separate part of me,” Paige said. “I can’t do that. I know clearly that where I am and what I do is not so much a product of my work, but a product of God’s grace.

“If it had been left up to me, I would have made a big boo-boo out of my life some time ago,” he added. “I understand what empowers me. My parents made sure it was engrained at a very young age.”

Just what the nation needs in a Secretary of Education is a man who believes it’s not his hard work and ability to fix problems that has gotten him where he is today, but the divine intervention of God on his behalf. Who needs qualifications and good ideas when you can just pray your way to success?!? Oh yeah, that’s one hell of an endorsement. Pardon the pun. I like his use of the word “boo-boo” instead of the more popular “cluster-fuck.” Nice touch.

As for those who disagree with his position that religion has a place in the nation’s public schools, Paige replied, “I would offer critics my prayers.”

I’d prefer your resignation so someone a little more Earth-bound could get in there and do something other than pray for the educational system to get better.

Found via Atrios.

Update: Looks like I’m not the only one outraged by this.

Civil liberties and education groups called yesterday for Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige to apologize or resign after he told a Baptist publication that he believes it is important for schools to teach Christian values.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Paige’s remarks showed “an astonishing mix of disrespect for both America’s religious diversity and the public schools.” In a letter faxed to the Department of Education yesterday, Lynn urged Paige to repudiate the remarks or step down.

Dan Lengan, Paige’s press secretary, said that the quotations in the article were accurate and that Paige has no intention of resigning.

Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a union representing 1.3 million teachers, said Paige should quickly clarify or recant his comments.

“Secretary Paige is right about one thing: Our public schools are filled with, as he said, many different kinds of kids with different values. But it is insulting for the secretary—who should be the advocate for the over 50 million children in our public schools—to say their diversity somehow compromises those schools. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is precisely what makes our public schools great,” she said.

Yeah, what she said!

13 thoughts on “America’s education evangelist.

  1. Ooh, great follow-up piece. I only saw the original last night via Atrios. Damn, and he stands by his remarks?

    This is a powder keg ready to explode.

  2. I believe that you are the one, or the type of person, that Jesus looked to and said, “Ye generation of vipers”, and “depart from me ye that work iniquity.” There is a Hell awaiting you at the time of your death, but you do not worry about that right now, you keep criticizing the man who tries to keep our faith in public schools. It is your type that has caused a demoralization in the minds of our young people. It is your type that has caused young people, after they become mature enough, to enter into eternal Hell. But you keep cussing up a storm, and keep telling it like you “earth-bound” people believe. I do not believe in freedom of speech, for that is what has caused God’s people to fall away, but I believe in Godly speech. Jesus didn’t come down here to send peace, but the sword, which is the truth of God’s holy, infallible, Word.

  3. Yeah, I’ve been told that before. Don’t you people ever come up with anything original to say when you stop by to berate us evil atheists?

    You demonstrate pretty clearly in this response of yours exactly why the Founding Fathers thought it was so important to ensure that Church and State were kept separate one from the other. You don’t believe in freedom of speech? Too bad for you the folks who started this country did and made sure there was a Bill of Rights to protect it.

    You and your way of thinking are exactly why this website exists. To ensure that voices and viewpoints other than the nutball evangelists have a chance to be heard. To me, you are a greater danger to this country than any terrorist could be. Sure, they might blow shit up on occasion, but you would work to undermine the very principles this country was founded on and would cause infinitely more damage in the process.

  4. Did you click on Mr. Henry’s name up there? Check him out, standing all proud in front of the flag he just took a shit on! F#@& you Mr.Henry!

  5. Did you notice on the Reverend’s site he has music files of “Old-Time Christian ‘Musick’”. and what does that rhyme with?….That’s right, You-sick. First time I’ve seen a Reverend embarrass himself and a music file sharing system at the same time. Anyway, according to the good Reverend Henry, there is a clause for those who aren’t “mature enough”, allowing them to avoid the clutches of hell. (These people keep coming up with outs.) Makes you wonder if it would be a good idea to get a fake ID, or at least not to act your age. I can just hear the conversation
    “Dude, are you old enough to buy me a drink?”
    “Nope, not yet, but I just turned old enough to enter into eternal hell. F*^~ that”
    If they aren’t even at risk till they’re older why do these fanatics attempt to brain wash them so early?

  6. With an infinite amount of time, what is it the human race would become?  I Believe in God, the creator. I am an intelligent man and carefully looked at both views and came to my decision. The ACLU fought to have the Ten Commandments removed; what is it that is so wrong with writings that merely state

  7. “I personally favor a dictatorship with me in charge. . .

    Sheep are running scared tonight
    The cows are coming home
    They cling together terrified
    Afraid to be alone

    The bees are buzzing ‘round the queen
    Waiting for a word
    The geese are gawking at the scene
    Collectively absurd

    They’re looking for jesus
    They’re looking for more
    Just what are they looking up here to me for
    They’re looking for someone
    They’re looking for christ
    They’re looking for some human sacrifice

    It looks like jonestown
    It looks like jonestown from here
    It looks like jonestown
    It looks like jonestown up here

    They don’t know who to run to and
    They don’t know where to go
    Unless you tell them what to think
    They don’t know what they know
    Repeating the commercial, yeah
    Something they have heard
    From someone, something,somewhere then, Somebody good with words

    They’re looking for answers
    They’re looking for more
    Just what are they looking up here to me for
    They’re looking for jesus
    They’re looking for christ
    They’re looking for some human sacrifice

    It looks like jonestown
    It looks like jonestown from here
    It looks like jonestown
    It looks like jonestown up here

    It looks like Jonestown again.

    —Concrete Blonde—Mexican Moon—Jonestown

    That’s a big :finger:, Larry, just in case you hadn’t caught on yet.

  8. I do agree with you Larry, if people followed the Ten Commandments more closely, the world would probably be a much better place.  I also think you asked a very good opening question.  In fact I believe it to be one of the more important questions one can ask, one I’ve been considering on the back burners of my mind for over six years now.  But I would hope that since you’ve asked it, you’ve also taken the time to think about it a little.  And looked at the world around you for answers.  It seems to me that the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Christ are only one voice of the message, that other voices such as Islam, or even Buddhism, speak an equally valid and peaceful message.  And my experience has led me to believe that perhaps it is not reliance on some super-human being to aid us in our problems that would make the world a better place, but rather developing a better sense of responsibility in ourselves.  Perhaps if we spent more time pondering our hopes and dreams, more time considering what we COULD be, and more time planning what it would take to get there, we might have enough pride and respect for our lives to keep them from going downhill, have the foresight to consider consequences before we act, discipline our children to view life with the same importance, and see that by relying on each other we just might get there faster.  Why should the government need symbols to make it more effective, when the government itself should be an effective symbol, when life, liberty, and happiness are more than I need to be a decent human being?  And by the way, I personally would also favor a dictatorship, though I can practically guarante you will not like my methods to distribute fairness and justice….

    So do you have any good answers for your question?  If not I suggest you try watching Babylon 5 sometime.  Or read Frederik Pohl’s The World At The End Of Time.  Plus that one also has an interesting twist to the idea of an omnipotent being….  Just some ideas to get you started.  Though perhaps the question should ask what we could be, not would be…

  9. I thought it was obvious

    The BORG!

    We will be assimilated!  Resistance is. . .

    oh, uhm, gotta run, I need to have an incredibly small cellphone implanted in my skull so that I can have remote access to the web at ALL times

    Moahaahahahahaha!  “evillaugh”

  10. Larry wrote:

    The ACLU fought to have the Ten Commandments removed; what is it that is so wrong with writings that merely state “Do not steal”? If the entire world lived by the teachings of Jesus Christ, what terrible atrocities would be committed?

    The problem is that the Ten Commandments don’t merely state “Do not steal”, they also state “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me”.  Now, try re-reading the First Amendment.  Also, the Ten Commandments are in the Old Testament, and the teachings of Jesus are in the New Testament.

  11. I’m left to wonder what Larry’s background knowledge on economics is, because it occurs to me that splitting everything evenly amongst the populace is a bad idea. Then you get freeloaders who think that don’t have to do nearly as much as their neighbor, and eventually the people that work the hardest stop providing in the same way and start seeking greener pastures. And I’m sure that if you could stop them from doing all that you would – but then you lose out on efficiency by trying to control everything, which requires a phenomenal number of resources, much less something nearing omniscience. So, if Larry thinks he’s good for the task of managing a society in his fashion (rather than working with a system that does a lot to manage itself), by all means. But I’m calling his bluff.

  12. That is what is, ultimately, the fundamental problem with communism/socialism. In theory, it is a great idea, but in practice, it simply doesn’t work (at least it hasn’t yet). In practice it has been abused not only by basic human nature but also by totalitarians such as Stalin and Mao.

    This Larry character’s idea is also whack, since it is basically a theocratic “utopia” with strong socialistic undertones. I’m not necessarily opposed to socialism in theory, but I am very much opposed to theocracy. Sorry, Larry, but I don’t think world peace is worth your authoritarian methods of obtaining it. The end does not justify the means.

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