Florida DOE Wants To Teach Kids We Live In A Theocracy

If the Florida Department of Education gets its way, Civics and Government teachers will soon be required to indoctrinate 7th and 9th graders with a bunch of Christian Nationalist nonsense about how "Judeo-Christian values influenced America's founding ideals and documents." With these new benchmarks, SS.7.C.1.12 (7th grade) and SS.912.C.1.5 (9th grade), students will be taught a bunch of crap that is completely biased, largely untrue, and which will no question run afoul of the First Amendment restriction on state-sponsored religion.

Let's take a look, shall we?

It states that students will:

Recognize how Judeo-Christian values influenced America's Founding ideals and documents.

● Students will analyze the degree of civic participation inherent in these civilizations.

So first of all, Judeo-Christian values are not really a thing. We all know they only throw the "Judeo" on there to not sound anti-Semitic, despite the fact that they freak out every winter over people saying "Happy Holidays." The term blurs critical theological distinctions and seems to have less to do with creating an inclusive ethical framework than it does with trying to justify theocratic tendencies by suggesting that multiple religious traditions support whatever it is that kooky evangelical types want to do at any given time. It allows them to push for state-sponsored religion without looking like the state is sponsoring one particular religion. Like "It doesn't count as the state pushing one religion if two religions believe in this particular thing we are trying to push."

● Students will identify Judeo-Christian values (e.g., rule of law, God-given rights, equality of mankind, limited government, separation of powers, consent of the governed) in founding documents.

God-given rights we'll give them. That was obviously written by some people who believe in God, and likely the Christian God over Zeus. That being said, absolutely none of that other shit has anything to do with "Judeo-Christian values" and is in fact quite ironic given the fact that the Bible was routinely used to justify slavery. Outside of "God-given rights," none of these things have anything to do with "Christian." Or even "Judeo-Christian."

● Students will recognize the influence of the Protestant work ethic on economic freedom and personal responsibility.

The "Protestant work ethic" certainly has had an effect on the way things are done in the United States. We can give them that. But to portray it as a universal good is straight-up ridiculous. It's why we have crappy labor laws, why we have such a serious income inequality issue, why we pretend that the only reason poor people are poor is because they are morally deficient in some way or didn't work hard enough — which then absolves us of any obligation to help them. There is no problem with discussing the way the "Protestant work ethic" has shaped America, but suggesting it was a purely good influence is pure propaganda.

● Students will recognize the influence of the Ten Commandments on establishing the rule of law in America.

That is not a thing. The only commandments that have anything to do with our "rule of law" in America are the ones forbidding killing and stealing (okay, and we guess "bearing false witness") and to suggest that without God zapping those commandments into a tablet, no one would have figured out that killing and stealing are bad is patently ridiculous. They had murder trials in Ancient Greece! And probably many other ancient places that had no idea about any Ten Commandments and practiced non-Abrahamic religions.

None of the other things in the Ten Commandments are illegal. You can covet all you please. You can take the lord's name in vain, because we have freedom of speech. You can put other Gods before Tablet God, because we have freedom of religion, despite their best efforts. You can make graven images any time you like. You don't have to honor your parents.

● Students will explain what is meant by "All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Where even is that in the Bible, or even "Judeo-Christian values"? Nowhere. There was no right to liberty, OR life, to say nothing of pursuing "happiness." Jesus said not a word about any of it. There were slaves in the Bible, just as there were in the Founders' America. Rather, that declaration was a thing made up by the people who founded the United States, many of whom were Deists or even — please don't scare the children — Unitarians.

It is understandable that Christians want everyone to be Christian, or for everyone to at least "recognize" that the United States is inherently Christian, which would make it easier to push more people to be Christian. It's just a lot easier to believe in things when everyone else is going along with you. It's easier to ensure your children will continue to believe in those things if their beliefs are never challenged. But, sadly for them, they have to share this country with lots and lots of people who don't believe what they believe and that's probably not going to change.

Aside from creating a space to evangelize to school children, the goal of this propaganda is to push the idea of Christianity being so deeply entangled with the United States that a full separation of church and state can never be possible — and creating a generation of kids who believe this means creating a generation of people who might be a little more lenient about state-sponsored religion.

If you happen to live in Florida, you have until tomorrow to let the Department of Education know that you are not okay with this!

Michael DiPierro, Bureau of Standards and
Instructional Support, Florida Dept. of Education

And if you don't, you can always just yell about it on the internet.

[American Atheists]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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