Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Respectful Discussion Offends Radical Religious Groups

You remember that a couple of weeks ago the First Amendment Center issued some guidelines for how public schools should develop curricula dealing with sexual orientation. We blogged a few things about it, mainly because the anti-MCPS group PFOX tried to make people believe that the guidelines somehow validated their point of view. Their press release was titled "SEXUAL ORIENTATION CONSENSUS GUIDELINES INCLUDE EX-GAYS."

Of course the guidelines said nothing about any "ex-gays," just that all sides of a controversy should be represented in the process of curriculum development.

Well, this is funny. At first, the religious right tried to embrace this document as supporting their side, saying it included their anti-gay views. Now that they've given it some thought, though, they are realizing that honest, open discussion is probably not going to serve their side very well.

From the Christian web site Agape News:
A Christian attorney is denouncing a new agreement reached between a homosexual advocacy group and the Christian Educators Association on how to deal with the issue of sexual orientation in public schools.

The Christian Educators Association International (CEAI) and the pro-homosexual Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) have collaborated on a document called "Public Schools and Sexual Orientation: A First Amendment Framework for Finding Common Ground." The document urges school officials to "take seriously complaints of name calling, harassment, and discrimination," and to avoid discriminating against student clubs because of their political or religious message.

Steve Crampton, chief counsel with the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy (AFA Law Center), finds the collaboration between the Christian group and the homosexual advocacy group disturbing. He says while he supports civil debate on issues relating to homosexuality, he has serious concerns about Christian educators coming to the table with a group like GLSEN.

"I think GLSEN is a grave danger to our kids," Crampton explains, "and so, to the extent you reach out the hand of friendship, or in this case, 'common ground,' you are doing a disservice to the community, and especially to the innocent kids in that community."

The pro-family attorney says Christians have no business legitimizing a group that is "all about advocating teenage homosexual sex." AFA Law Center litigators "have been involved in matters that have grown out of GLSEN conferences, in which graphic descriptions and instructions in homosexual sexual practices have taken place under GLSEN's purview, indeed sometimes with taxpayer dollars at stake," he contends. Pro-Family Lawyer Criticizes Christian Educators' Collaboration With GLSEN

I have always objected to these guys' obsession with sex. It's like they imagine that all gay people do all day is have sex. Saying that GLSEN is "all about advocating teenage homosexual sex" is just bizarre -- in truth, GLSEN is about getting gay and straight people together so they can see one another's point of view, and in the long run to increase tolerance across the boundaries of sexual orientation. It has nothing to do with "advocating teenage homosexual sex."

Another thing I have always objected to is the way these guys lie, but ... what can you do?

Further down in the article is this lovely quote:
The AFA Center for Law & Policy has been battling GLSEN's agenda for years, an agenda that promotes what Crampton describes as "a sinful and destructive lifestyle that threatens the very existence of our society."

Do you get that? If the straight ones accept the gay ones, the "very existence of our society" is threatened? I never realized that hatred of gays was what held our society together.

Let's just say, I refuse to accept that.

It's also fun to see what the World Net Daily, a radically conservative web site, says about the guidelines:
A recent agreement between several national groups on how to handle "sexual orientation" in schools is unacceptable, misleading and may actually cause more problems than it purports to solve.

The document, "Public Schools and Sexual Orientation" was released by the First Amendment Center in conjunction with the Christian Educators Association International and GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.Since I have researched and reported on homosexuality in the schools for more than a decade through the organization I head, Mission America of Columbus, Ohio, I read this announcement with shock and dismay. My first reaction was, "GLSEN? How could a group of genuine Christian believers sit down at any table with that organization?" Christian education group caves to homosexuals

You can read the guidelines HERE. I haven't dwelled much on the document for several reasons. First, look, if you could get people to agree to be decent and respectful to one another, you didn't really have a problem in the first place. Second, it's just common sense, if you want to form a policy about a difficult and controversial topic, you're going to have to have input from all sides, even if one side doesn't get what they want. They get to make their case, at least, and maybe some good can come of it. Third, it's not binding, it's only a suggestion, along the lines of "Why can't everybody just get along?" Schools can choose to follow these guidelines, or not.

This article goes through a lot of ugliness, I'm not going to publicize their views here, you can follow the link if you're interested. I would classify this as "psychotic," but it passes for common sense in this day and age.

But let me show you the last paragraph, which is really what this is all about:
Because of such poisonous nonsense, I have come to the conclusion that Christians who are at all able to do so should remove their children from public schools and that committed Christian educators should teach elsewhere. There's almost no way to ensure an education that even remotely resembles truth, in an atmosphere of such compromised leadership and moral confusion.

I don't think most of us realize what the agenda is here. The religious right wants to destroy public education, so they can be subsidized for sending their kids to religious schools. The attack in Montgomery County has been nothing less than this -- it's not an effort to improve public education, the intent is to undermine and disrupt it. Because public schools are accountable to voters in the long run, they are obligated to teach such crazy things as "facts" and "critical thinking" and sometimes even "tolerance" -- can you imagine that? If people could just send their kids to schools that teach what the parents believe, they could get around these unfair restrictions.

This is dangerous, dangerous stuff -- and to think, it starts with a proposal that people should be decent to one another and listen to each other's arguments. How objectionable is that?


Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

First, Jim, thank you for reading the Agape news for us, so we don't have to do so.

Secondly, I think it's important that you point out the ulterior motives. Not all religious persons agree with the extremists on these issues, and it's unfair and unproductive to tar an entire community with that broad a brush.

Otoh, the trouble being caused in Montgomery County is not being caused simply by a few disgruntled parents, who, however outlandish their views, deserve a full hearing. They are financed and directed by the fanatical Christianist lobby in this country, the one led, until yesterday, by one Tom Delay. Mr. Delay, by the way, was likened to Jesus at the recent conference here in DC at the opulent Omni Shoreham called the "War on Christianity." And pastor Rick Scarborough actually had the gall to say not to worry, since God does his best work right after a crucifixion. That all Christians weren't outraged by that comment just shows how sick many are in this country.

CRC and PFOX would have had no impact on the curriculum had it not been for funding from those extremists, whose goal is, simply put, an American theocracy.

Now I grew up in a fundamentalist community, and some of my oldest friends are still orthodox. They have tradaitionally led segregated lives, because they don't care for the education, including moral education, being provided by the public schools. I had a religious education, as have my children, who have attended religious school, private school, and public school. All Americans have the right to their beliefs, and to teach their children whatever they want in their homes or private schools.

But it's incumbent on the vast majority of citizens in Montgomery County, and the large majority of Americans, to stand up and defend this diverse country from the forces of religious extremism. And that means protecting the public schools for all the children who deserve the best education we can give them.

April 05, 2006 2:26 PM  

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