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Author Topic:   Georgia Passes Bill to Fund Bible Courses in Public High Schools
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 144 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 16 of 27 (299509)
03-29-2006 11:47 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by subbie
03-29-2006 6:44 PM


ahh, but you forgot something!
More recently, in 1973, the Court articulated a three-part test, called the Lemon test, after the case in which the Court laid it out. Under the Lemon test, governmental action runs afoul of the First Amendment if it has a primary purpose or effect of advancing religion, or if it results in excessive governmental entanglement in religion.

you missed the other part of the lemon test: the law has to have a legitimate and secular purpose.

also, it's "advancing or inhibiting." government cannot inhibit religion, either.

The concern of "lawmakers" expressed in the quote from the OP that "children and losing their grasp on one of Western civilization's most influential texts" strongly suggests to me, however, that the real purpose here is to advance a particular religion.

it does yes. but secular purpose can be found in reading the bible -- as well as the qu'ran, the bhagavad-gita, tao te ching, and homer. the wording that they're using is meant to specifically imply a secular purpose. it's saying: "yes, we know about the lemon test."

however, the issue here is basically that this is propping up ONE text. and that one text doesn't really need propping up. i promise that more kids have read parts of the bible than have read parts of the qu'ran. it's not like a significant percentage of the population hasn't been exposed to this "influential text," otherwise, it wouldn't be influential.

The second question is whether the law has an effect of advancing religion. Obviously, generally bible study courses have an effect of advancing religion, that's why churches have them. However, it's conceivable that the state could structure the course in a way, as others have suggested, so that the courses are instructing rather than preaching. However, given that the law by its terms only provides funding for bible studies, it's hard to see how the state can argue that the statute doesn't aid one religion over another.

that's a good observation. the establishment comes down to the issue of HOW the course is taught, and since the law allows for establishment...

now, i go to a state university. i did, in fact, take a class on the bible. it was treated as literature, and studied instead of preached. it really threw a lot of the religious-types for a loop -- alot of their ideas didn't fly upon close examination.

don't know what Chief Justice Roberts's and Jusitice Alito's views are on the Establishment Clause. This case would give them a perfect opportunity to take the Court's analysis in a different direction if they wanted to.

*worries*


אָרַח

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Replies to this message:
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subbie
Member
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 17 of 27 (299511)
03-30-2006 12:23 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by arachnophilia
03-29-2006 11:47 PM


State University
now, i go to a state university. i did, in fact, take a class on the bible. it was treated as literature, and studied instead of preached. it really threw a lot of the religious-types for a loop -- alot of their ideas didn't fly upon close examination.

It bears mentioning that Establishment Clause analysis for post-secondary education is not the same as it is for K-12. The Court generally considers children to be more impresionable than adults and so is less inclined to allow actions that arguably run afoul of the Establishment Clause.

*worries*

Ditto.


Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for a temporary security will lose both, and deserve neither. -- Benjamin Franklin
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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 144 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 18 of 27 (299512)
03-30-2006 12:28 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by subbie
03-30-2006 12:23 AM


Re: State University
It bears mentioning that Establishment Clause analysis for post-secondary education is not the same as it is for K-12. The Court generally considers children to be more impresionable than adults and so is less inclined to allow actions that arguably run afoul of the Establishment Clause.

of course. but it is a case of state money going to fund a course that (arguably) could have been religious. it wasn't -- it was actually quite challenging and questioning of religion in general.

but i also would never argue for such a course in high school. a little reading of genesis in an literature class isn't too bad, when you're covering a bunch of other ancient literature. but high school lacks the range of college. there just isn't the same opportunity for other similar courses about other texts. to devote one WHOLE class to it, even an elective, seems a bit much.


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anglagard
Member
Posts: 2189
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 19 of 27 (299521)
03-30-2006 1:57 AM


If the lesson plan included Spinoza's "On the Interpretation of Scripture" as the preface, I would feel more comfortable, but I also believe many others would not as it may lead to the ultimate sin of critical thinking.
    
ikabod
Member (Idle past 2659 days)
Posts: 365
From: UK
Joined: 03-13-2006


Message 20 of 27 (299523)
03-30-2006 2:51 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by BMG
03-29-2006 12:39 PM


it would be of interest to see the definition of what the Georgia legislature counts as "elective bible courses" and qualifies for funding , either it will be very perscriptive ... in which case its clearly promotes a narrow view ..... or will it be open to a wide range of intereptations .. i mean a school could use its funding to buy pc's and a internet conection ands get its classes to login to EvC forum. hehehehehe...

my real concern over such moves as this is it opens the classic can of worms .. if you fund bible studies on such grounds , you should in all fairness fund all other major religions , and by extension , as religions are a "set of instructions for personal and social life style " all major socio-political movemetns ... hmm today we will study the comunist manifesto...

in my humble view schools should be a place for education .. not indoctrination .. religious matters should be taught in the context of history and social / cultrual studies ...
Leave religion to the churchs ...


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subbie
Member
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 21 of 27 (299908)
03-31-2006 6:12 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by arachnophilia
03-29-2006 11:47 PM


Re: ahh, but you forgot something!
I did forget that inhibiting religion is a no-no (that happens so often), but the part about the secular purpose is there, I just phrased it from the other side. It cannot have a primary purpose of advancing (or inhibiting) religion.


Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for a temporary security will lose both, and deserve neither. -- Benjamin Franklin
This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by arachnophilia, posted 03-29-2006 11:47 PM arachnophilia has responded

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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 144 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 22 of 27 (300002)
04-01-2006 5:25 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by subbie
03-31-2006 6:12 PM


Re: ahh, but you forgot something!
I did forget that inhibiting religion is a no-no (that happens so often), but the part about the secular purpose is there, I just phrased it from the other side. It cannot have a primary purpose of advancing (or inhibiting) religion.

there is a bit of overlap, but redundancy is good. i don't think that either alone covers everything.

something could, i suppose, have a secular purpose, but ALSO advance religion. but in much rarer cases, something that doesn't advance religion might not have a secular purpose -- like blue laws, for instance. i would argue that they fail the lemon test for that reason. while they don't particular aid the religion in any way, it is merely a law made for religious reasons. although you might be able to argue that from an entanglement position, too.

i guess the moral here is "better safe than sorry."


אָרַח

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jar
Member
Posts: 30986
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 23 of 27 (300008)
04-01-2006 8:28 AM


One thing that I think needs to be mentioned.
So far I can find no indication that this bill was enacted. It is a House Bill, has had it's required two readings, but there is no indication it passed or was even voted on. I don't see a corresponding Senate Bill.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
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subbie
Member
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 24 of 27 (300038)
04-01-2006 10:53 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by arachnophilia
04-01-2006 5:25 AM


Primary is the key
For the most part, the answer to the problem you raised is that the Lemon test uses the phrase "primary purpose or effect." The First Amendment is not offended by a law with a primary secular purpose that may inhibit religion as a secondary effect.

Take for example anti-polygamy laws. Courts uphold those by noting that the primary purpose is secular, to promote the two-parent family as the basic unit of society. (I'd happily and vigorously argue that that is not a necessary or proper purpose for the government to pursue, but that's off topis for this thread.) It is indisputable that, as a secondary effect, they inhibited a tenet, now abandoned, of the Mormon church that promoted polygamy. However, since the Court concluded that that was a secondary effect, the law did not run afoul of the First Amendment.

Now, as applied to the OP, if a school were to select the KJV bible as a resource in a course unrelated to religion, the study of Elizabethan England for example, one could argue that it passes Constitutional muster even though, as a secondary effect, it might promote a particular religion. However, since it appears that one of the purposes of this proposed law is to make sure that children are exposed to "one of Western civilization's most influential texts," it certainly appears that both the primary purpose and primary effect is the advancement of religion.


Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for a temporary security will lose both, and deserve neither. -- Benjamin Franklin
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 Message 22 by arachnophilia, posted 04-01-2006 5:25 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
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subbie
Member
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 25 of 27 (300041)
04-01-2006 10:57 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by jar
04-01-2006 8:28 AM


Re: One thing that I think needs to be mentioned.
Gosh, you don't mean to say that the LA Times made a mistake in it's story, do you? How shocking!

In my experience, the press does a poor job of covering the law. They usually misunderstand something, or miss the central point completely.


Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for a temporary security will lose both, and deserve neither. -- Benjamin Franklin
This message is a reply to:
 Message 23 by jar, posted 04-01-2006 8:28 AM jar has not yet responded

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 144 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 26 of 27 (300386)
04-02-2006 9:07 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by subbie
04-01-2006 10:53 AM


Re: Primary is the key
For the most part, the answer to the problem you raised is that the Lemon test uses the phrase "primary purpose or effect." The First Amendment is not offended by a law with a primary secular purpose that may inhibit religion as a secondary effect.

yes, that's quite true. and it probably works the other way, too. which, it seems to me, is what this bill is trying for. the question is, "is the promotion of christianity really the primary effect?"

Take for example anti-polygamy laws. Courts uphold those by noting that the primary purpose is secular, to promote the two-parent family as the basic unit of society. (I'd happily and vigorously argue that that is not a necessary or proper purpose for the government to pursue, but that's off topis for this thread.)

i would argue that, too actually. off topic, of course, it's a technicality. if you've looked into the groups that are still polygamous, they are quite dangerous. both in terms of abuse, and genetic defects. preventing that may have been the secular purpose in mind. still, to my knowledge, i don't think the state of utah has actually prosecuted very many people for it (maybe one?).

Now, as applied to the OP, if a school were to select the KJV bible as a resource in a course unrelated to religion, the study of Elizabethan England for example, one could argue that it passes Constitutional muster even though, as a secondary effect, it might promote a particular religion.

(jamesian england?) we did in fact read selections from the book of psalms in one of my high school english classes, as examples of elizbethan poetry. we also read selections from genesis in another literature class, studying many ancient documents.

However, since it appears that one of the purposes of this proposed law is to make sure that children are exposed to "one of Western civilization's most influential texts," it certainly appears that both the primary purpose and primary effect is the advancement of religion.

well, maybe. it looks to me like they're trying to giving it a secular purpose with that phrase. and it might well be justified, too. i'm not sure, really -- but it'd make a good court case.


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Rainman2
Inactive Member


Message 27 of 27 (300885)
04-04-2006 2:07 PM


I think it's fine to have Bible classes as electives. But even as a Christian I don't think they should be required. Just be cause it's a Bible study doesn't mean it's bringing people closer to God. It wouldn't be long before their teachers would start twisting the word of God to teach all kinds of crazy things.

This message has been edited by Rainman2, 04-06-2006 12:09 AM


  
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