Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"In God We Teach"

The newly released documentary “In God We Teach” follows the story of Mattew LaClair, a high school student in Kearney, New Jersey. LaClair brought forth allegations of his high school history teacher, David Paszkiewicz preaching Christianity in the classroom. This documentary examines this case and its underpinning issues in just over an hour. I highly recommend you watch the entire film. However, if you would like to skip around and see just the highlights if have a few key moments referenced.

21:50 - 23:00: Paszkiewicz likens Christianity to having the cure for cancer. If you have the truth, why would you keep it from other people?

26:00: Paszkiewicz says, "there are a lot of lost people out there. If they are unreached, the consequences could be terrible"

29:00: Is the younger generation as aware as older generations of issues around separation of church and state?

31:30 - 34:00: Academic freedom is discussed.

34:42: Paszkiewicz says, "Teaching Darwinism is something thats going to take poeple's eyes off of God, especially Jesus Christ."

37:30: Paszkiewicz says, "and it may be against the law to teach creationism as fact but that doesn't mean its wrong."

In addition to being a youth pastor, Paszkiewicz also leads Christian Club Meetings for youth. At these meetings he attempts to disprove evolution and the big bang. This is something that has always rubbed me the wrong way. Regardless of my personal opinions about religion and its constant denial and suppression of science in fundamentalist followings, religion and science, especially religion and evolution are not mutually exclusive. There are certain folks, that would like to be seen as representative of religion, who draw this distinction. They do not represent religion, and they certainly are not representative of Christianity as a whole. That being said, evolution is not, and should not be associated with atheism. It is nontheistic. It is science. Nothing more. If this disproves any aspect of religious thought, then that religious thought must adapt, change or be destroyed. It is no longer representative of our current knowledge about the world and our relationship to it.

42:15: Paszkiewicz says, "I don't believe that my religious beliefs trump the constitution but I do believe that the word of god does."

42:00 - 44:00: Paszkiewicz says, "Religious neutrality is one thing but hostility to Christianity is quite another, and what I find is that this neutrality often means the exclusion from Christianity in the public square."

There is to often the argument that there is a war against Christianity in this country, or a war against Christmas. This is all complete nonsense. If the government does not support a certain view of Christianity or any religion, it is automatically seen as being hostile to that view/religion. The government is a secular institution. It is meant to be free of competing religious ideas as these are the most virulent competitions.

46:00: Paszkiewicz says, "We take god out of the equation, in time, i fear what kind of government we could have."

46:30: Paszkiewicz says, "I do think we ought to be unified around a set of values that are essentially Judeo-Christian"

48:00: Paszkiewicz "I don't see the danger in promoting, lets say the 10 commandments, how can things like 'thou shalt not kill' be psychologically damaging to a student?"

It is so easy for a supporter of the ten commandments to cite the “thou shalt not kill’ commandment as evidence that all ten should be accepted and taught. It neglects to mention the majority of the other nine. Why is this? Maybe its because “thou shalt have no other gods before me” or “do not take the lords name in vain” or “on the seventh day the lord rested” have absolutely no place in civil society, let alone its governance.

A year after this incident Paszkiewicz formed a student “Alpha and Omega Club.” This club was planning a trip to the creation museum in Kentucky. The “educational rationale,” for the trip was that: "students will be exposed to the science behind creationism."

This is a great documentary. I highly recommend it. If anything else it’s a great introduction into the multifaceted debate on the separation of church and state, prayer and other religious ceremonies or ideas in public schools, the so-called evolutionism/creationism debate and the growth of the nonbeliever population in the United States and what its effect could be on combating the religious right and the organization of “nones” as a political demographic. The link for the documentary is here: http://ht.ly/cndug 

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