By Contributor on January 28, 2014

By Tori Parker

I live in Ohio, which is typically a pretty good thing. I'm right in the middle, on the outskirts of a decent-sized city, so I get to experience culture and diversity and things that stimulate my brain. But sometimes, I get reminded that I still live in OHIO -- the land of the redneck. Our state's leaders still feel very comfortable pushing their agenda on the Ohio people, no matter what any Constitution says.

Recently, a bill was passed by the Ohio House of Representatives. This bill would allow students to earn high school credit for off-campus religious instruction that they earn during school hours. Schools could not spend any money on this program, but would allow schools to approve the instructor and class times.

The two men who introduced this bill, Jeff McClain and Bill Patmon, both have a lot to say about how necessary religion is in everyone's life. They said that this class would build character for students. Yeah, so would a good reading of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, but you don't see that taught as a separate off-campus class.

The article about the matter from the Columbus Dispatch says that Patmon told his colleagues

"There's no prayer. I think we need prayer. There are no (religious) symbols. We need symbols."

Then he suggested that students with religion are higher achievers in school.

Now, even though the bill won't say that, we all know that these legislators aren't thinking about kids going to hang out in their Temple or Mosque during class. No -- they're once again showing favor to the Christians. Why should we give them credit for a personal choice that has little to nothing to do with their education? Why should we take away valuable educational time to fill their ears with bullshit? Most of the other industrialized countries in the world are beating us in test scores. Do you honestly think that THIS is the solution for that? Is this going to make it any better?

I don't know if this policy will pass, and I don't know how it will affect me as a teacher. What I do know, however, is that it's little things like this policy that slowly, slowly bleed into our educational system until Christianity finds its own damn little niche and won't leave. It's changes that happen -- "innocent" little classes, Supreme Court rulings that allow banners from school groups, prayers at graduation -- that are going to erode the rights that non-religious people have, little by little, until we are in a theocracy. I know that sounds extreme, but I worry. I really do.

I will keep you informed about whether or not this bill passes the Senate, and if it's ever implemented in my school.

This post originally appeared on Skepchick. Republished with permission.

Photo: "Little boy praying with Bible," via Shutterstock.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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