In TN teaching Creation is legal and only churches can freely homeschool……..

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Discussion by: Jthiret

I live in Tennessee and a new law was passed last year making the teaching of creation "legal", and since this is basically the buckle of the bible belt that means evolution is "just a loose theory". While exploring other options I was shocked to find out that all the private schools are religous and to homeschool your children without a barage of financial barriers and other red tape you must be a "church sanctioned" homeschooling agent.  Considering all the backwards ideas and "de-evolution" going on around my community I fear for my childs future in these schools. I went to school here and regarless of the constitution they still managed to get away with teachers that promote prayer and ostracize any who disagree. Living below poverty, I am unable to move or to fight the insanity that is east tn education.  Any people with similar stories or even from east Tn, that have found a solution, or does everyone like me have to just hope they can "deprogram" their children who will get constantly bombarded with "hellfire" rhetoric for thinking for themselves. 

30 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by Skeptic:

      The teaching of Creationism in public schools as science is illegal in the United States. How do they get away with this?

      If the local judiciary and executive branch are filled with fundamentalists/theocrats, it becomes both expensive and difficult to get them to comply with the law/Constitution.

      Which brings me to my advice to Jhiret. Contact a professional organisation like ACLU, they will determine if you stand a chance of winning and maybe sue in your name.

      • In reply to #4 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

        In reply to #1 by Skeptic:

        The teaching of Creationism in public schools as science is illegal in the United States. How do they get away with this?

        I’m not familiar with this specific case but in general just because something is prohibited in the constitution doesn’t mean ignorant law makers can’t write a law that enables it. The way US laws work is that the legislatures can write any law they want. If the law is unconstitutional someone has to challenge it in court. Up until the last decade or so that meant that if a law was obviously unconstitutional it would seldom get on the books. As the law was being debated the opponents would bring up “hey this is unconstitutional” and that would usually be the end of it. But many of the Republicans in office in the US now, and this is especially true in US southern states like TN, no longer have regard for things like rationality or governance. Because of the way US primaries work the most extreme people end up winning on the Republican side and more and more all they care about are making symbolic gestures even if such gestures are meaningless or harmful.

        So what will probably happen, what has happened in many similar cases is that someone will challenge this case in court, both sides will spend a lot of money arguing it and it will get overturned.

        If the local judiciary and executive branch are filled with fundamentalists/theocrats, it becomes both expensive and difficult to get them to comply…

        True. But often the judges behave in ways that show adherence to the law rather than ideology surprisingly enough. The Dover case in Pennsylvania for example, the judge in that case was very right wing, a Bush appointee I think, and the people arguing against creationism in that case were worried that he would rule against them regardless of the evidence. But — and this is partly because the evolution side did such a great job, of course they had all the facts on their side — the right wing judge came down very, very strongly on the side of evolution and just eviscerated the weak arguments from the Creationists. There is a great Nova (US PBS science TV show) show on the case and they re-enact some of the arguments reading the court transcripts and its really entertaining hearing the hard questions the judge asks and the idiotic replies from the Creationists.

    • In reply to #1 by Skeptic:

      The teaching of Creationism in public schools as science is illegal in the United States. How do they get away with this?
      It’s not exactly illegal as long as it isn’t codified as part of the curriculum and even then, if no one makes an issue of it, there isn’t a sciene police checking up on them.

    • In reply to #1 by Skeptic:

      The teaching of Creationism in public schools as science is illegal in the United States. How do they get away with this?

      The same way the Germans got away with punishing anyone who they perceived as different from them and no one put a stop to their actions. This went on from 1933 to 1939 and got progressively worse until mass murder for being “enemies of the state” was a normal occurrence from 1940 to 1945. To live in the “Bible belt” is to live in a never-ending episode of the “Twilight Zone” for crazy people.

      • Two things to consider:
        1. Creationism is not taught as science. It is a belief/faith statement. The two are fundamentally different.
        2. When you equate creationists to Nazis of Germany you embarrass yourself. What you are really saying is, “agree with me or else I will label you with the most vial label possible.This type of tabloid rhetoric has no place where open interaction is encouraged.

        In reply to #19 by abusedbypenguins:

        In reply to #1 by Skeptic:

        The teaching of Creationism in public schools as science is illegal in the United States. How do they get away with this?

        The same way the Germans got away with punishing anyone who they perceived as different from them and no one put a stop to their actions. This went…

  1. It became known I was an atheist while incarcerated in an East TN county jail. I was put in solitary confinement and a sermon played through the speakers in my cell one night around 3am. The guards drew latin crosses on my cell window. The sheriff came to the “pod” and lead my peers in bible study violating US Constitution.

    When I got out of jail, I wrote to ACLU about my complaints with no response. 2 1/2 years later I found The Freedom From Religion Foundation while surfing the net. I wrote to FFRF and got a prompt reply. A few months late their attorney wrote a 3 page letter to the jail & sheriff.

    Last December, I was going interested in applying to an East TN cosmetology school. Before enrolling I went and talked to some other students. I learned “meditation” was held each morning. They said attendance wasn’t mandatory but everyone went. I’m tired of being odd-man-out so, I did not enroll.

    I have recently returned to East TN after traveling the US looking for a more progressive place to live. Didn’t really find one. Not only is TN the bible belt, it is very uneducated. Maybe that goes hand in hand.

    I feel if they are going to teach creation or evolution they should do both. Let individuals decide. Personally I’m tired of searching for human origins and guessing how humanity will end. Life is in the middle.

    • In reply to #3 by GypsySun:

      It became known I was an atheist while incarcerated in an East TN county jail. I was put in solitary confinement and a sermon played through the speakers in my cell one night around 3am. The guards drew latin crosses on my cell window. The sheriff came to the “pod” and lead my peers in bible study v…

      ” I feel if they are going to teach creation or evolution they should do both. Let individuals decide.”

      No, science does not work that way.

    • In reply to #3 by GypsySun:

      I feel if they are going to teach creation or evolution they should do both. Let individuals decide.

      With a slight change of wording false dichotomy becomes clearer:-

      I feel if they are going to teach Flat Earth or Global Geography they should do both. Let individuals decide.

      Presenting falsehoods as equivalent to verified information and then letting children decide what to believe is not education! – It is deception!

    • In reply to #3 by GypsySun:

      “traveling the US looking for a more progressive place to live. Didn’t really find one”
      You obviously didn’t look very hard. The FFRF is in Wisconsin. When can you get up here?

    • In reply to #3 by GypsySun:

      …I feel if they are going to teach creation or evolution they should do both. …

      Here is the executive summary of Creationism:

      God did it. The world is a magical place and there is no way to understand it because God is magic and can do anything He wants at any moment.

      Obviously there is much we do understand about the world, so the actual “lesson plan” for Creationism is something like:

      • Spread disinformation about the theory of evolution.
      • Abuse statistics and simple mathematics incorrectly via ridiculous assumptions to cast doubt on evolution.
      • Lie about science in general to cast doubt on cosmology, physics, archeology, geology and of course biology so that people will accept “God did it” as a viable option.

      Creationism is not a scientific theory. There is no evidence for it (like finding a rabbit fossil next to a t-rex). It makes no predictions of future discoveries, nor testable assertions. Creationism is not taught so people can “come to their own conclusions.” The entire point of Creationism is to bolster Christianity. Many Creationist are very earnest in their beliefs, but I assure you that ultimately there is no science involved. There is no interest in science because the people pushing it believe there is a higher “Truth.” Sadly that truth is completely incompatible with reality…

  2. In reply to #4 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

    Contact a professional organisation like ACLU, they will determine if you stand a chance of winning and maybe sue in your name.

    The way I understand it the complainant must have standing, that is having a child in the public school system for the courts to hear it.

    There is a great Nova (US PBS science TV show) show on the case and they re-enact some of the arguments reading the court transcripts and its really entertaining hearing the hard questions the judge asks and the idiotic replies from the Creationists.

    That is a great episode.

  3. When we lived in Texas, we discovered that as parents we needed to monitor the stuff that the teachers were telling our children. By good fortune, ours were both fairly well versed in science before encountering the “highly rated” school district where teachers were free to spout whatever nonsense they wanted to as long as they prepared their students for the Texas Assessment of Scholastic Skills exam. The children would come home in disbelief — even our youngest (in 7th grade) was aware enough not to challenge the teacher in class but to come home and speak with his mother who always had the straight stuff.

  4. Jthiret, you seem to be a very intelligent person. Perhaps you can do some research to find some options to get yourself out of this area. Frequently we have ties to an area that keep us stuck, maybe you can find another area that will offer some opportunity.

  5. I’m no american and don’t know much about the states’ laws and governments, but wouldn’t it be possible to contact american atheists or something like that to look into this issue ? Maybe they’re already working on it, do you know if that is the case ?

  6. to homeschool your children without a barage of financial barriers and other red tape you must be a “church sanctioned” homeschooling agent.

    Have you looked into what it takes to become a “church sanctioned” agent? A lot of times those things are very much just little bureaucratic hurdles, you just get a few forms from the internet, sign a few things (whether or not you believe them) and you can consider yourself church sanctioned. Or if you need to have an actual church to align with I would suggest trying the Unitarians or Quakers. In both cases I think they would be very receptive to help you out. The quakers especially have a history of supporting civil disobedience and people asserting their rights for unpopular causes.

    I know its disgusting that you even have to consider those options but in the short run I wouldn’t overlook it since I’m guessing your main concern is getting your child educated.

  7. Here is a link from TN Dept. of Education on Home Schooling I think I see what you mean. I just took a quick look but it sounds like two completely separate processes. If you are aligned with a church essentially its all self administering, as long as the church/school authority says you are doing a good job the state takes their word for it, otherwise you have to jump through all kinds of hurdles, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that its like a lot of abortion laws they are passing lately, the stated goal is different than the actual goal, which is home schooling is only practical via the church. Disgusting.

  8. As from the England, UK I obviously know little about US education. The OP relates to private schools – I see TN eduction mention church schools as one of the kinds of non-public schools. Is it the case that in practice the only non-public schools are church-related?

    Also there seem to be quite a few public school in TN – it reads as if they are the majority? Would be interesting to know the position of Creationism & Evolution in the TN public schools.

  9. With you being below poverty level, I’m sure you work hard just to make ends meet. However, if you ever happen to find the time (and since you are able to access the internet), you probably CAN deprogram your children as you alluded to earlier. Websites like talkorigins.org and evolutionwiki.org are good sources of information which directly address (and refute) common claims made by creationists. Why educators and legislators ignore this info, I can only attribute to “for the sake of our religion…..and votes.”

    If you find time to spend quality time with your kids (I obviously don’t know their age) you may be able to talk to your kids about dinosaurs and such, which I think would accomplish at least 2 things: (1) Their own input into the topic can be used as an indicator as to whether or not they’ve been taught the creationist model (“Were you there?” comes to mind, a common creationist tidbit taught to children to say in reference to prehistory), and (2) after brushing up on responses to some common creationist claims, will give you the opportunity to deprogram the ‘unreason’ with which they have been indoctrinated.

    I feel for you. I also live in TN (near Memphis), and I hope this helps.

  10. In reply to #13 by Red Dog:

    Here is a link from TN Dept. of Education on Home Schooling I think I see what you mean. I just took a quick look but it sounds like two completely separate processes. If you are aligned with a church essentially its all self administering, as long as the church/school authority says you are doing…

    I did a lot of research on this topic trying to find some loop-holes, but to no avail. The only loop-holes available are to churches. Luckily my daughter is only 3 right now so I have 2 years to try and find a way out of here. I completely agree that this is disgusting, but if I don’t come into an incredible stroke of luck its a never ending battle against “hell-fire”. Personally, I think people that truly believe this way should no longer get the “religious” exception to being labeled schizophrenic. Scaring children with this is going to leave them with no choice, but to believe. I remember the attempts to program me to the hell fire dogma, it took years for me to shake the what if they are right fear. I desperately hope my child never has to go through this psychological anguish of forced indoctrination. Of course, there is some options I would love to see some secular private or even charter schools in this area. Everyone I know is just as broke as me, which makes the prospects of me doing this pretty slim.

  11. Jthiret:

    Short of moving to some place like Asheville, your child will have to face authority and peer issues of this sort. I went to primary school in North Carolina in the 1960s where I probably first marked myself as an infidel when I told my first grade classmates that Santa Clause was imaginary I got a paddling and was sent home with a note for that, and for several other like incidents over the course of my school career.. To grasp the context, you have to know that everything in that area was controlled by the Ku Klux Klan / Church complex. It was what I imagine Saddam’s Iraq was like — you had to be a member in standing with the Klan and the Church to be a school principal or sheriff or mayor or really have any non-menial job or not expect to be regularly attacked. In 1960 we lost our home when the Grand Dragon of the state KKK, in his power as mayor, had our nice little house condemned and then bought it himself. In 1966 we had a cross burned on our lawn, our business vandalized and our well condemned because Dad gave business credit to our black neighbors and refused to join the Church. It may help explain the context of this post if I explain that I am not black, but mostly Scotsman with a fair slice of Cherokee.

    The hard part for young me was enduring the taunts of my classmates who would say that I was possessed by demons or riding Satan’s coattails or the like, implicitly backed-up by teachers, parents and well, pretty much everyone. My parents were non-religious, but Mom, always reasonable, put great weight on conforming to local superstitious affectations to get along, freeing my mind in private and only dissenting when understanding and being willing to pay the inevitable costs. I took that advice to heart, if not right away, and have since carefully weight the cost in social capital whenever I choose to be outspoken. It’s not the hero’s path, but also not the martyr’s path. In societies such as yours, sadly and hopefully temporarily, it may be the only path other than complete capitulation that holds any promise of success.

    By all means, teach your children well, and in doing so teach them the consequences and potential rewards of running askance to local mores. American parents of black children unfortunately still have to teach their kids how to act in the presence of authority and dominant conformity, and parents of rational children unfortunately still have the same task.

    }}}}

  12. I just don’t understand why this is a bad thing. Why not teach all possible theories and allow people to decide for themselves? isn’t that what science is about? Exploring all possible out comes to find the best? But then who says what is best?

    • In reply to #26 by Zieber:

      I just don’t understand why this is a bad thing. Why not teach all possible theories and allow people to decide for themselves? isn’t that what science is about? Exploring all possible out comes to find the best? But then who says what is best?

      Creationism is not a theory, it is an assertion without any merit. That is the problem. Science is the process of observing, hypothesizing, formulating a theory that is testable/falsifiable or that predicts future discoveries.

    • In reply to #26 by Zieber:

      I just don’t understand why this is a bad thing.

      I explained this @16.

      Why not teach all possible theories and allow people to decide for themselves?

      Creationism is not a scientific theory. It is a load of made-up nonsense frequently backed by liars and fraudsters!

      isn’t that what science is about?

      Science education is about honestly teaching competent methods of investigation and reasoning. It is not about spreading irrational ignorance!

      Exploring all possible out comes to find the best?

      Science has been doing that for many decades. It teaches proven methods and proven answers. Not long refuted nonsense.

      But then who says what is best?

      Thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies, backed by repeatedly confirmed evidence, show what should be taught as science.

  13. Jthiret. I too, live in East TN. I too, know what a struggle it can be. What we must never do, is give up the fight for truth. It is hard, but we must continue to fight ignorance and superstition.

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