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July 06, 2012 11:00 AM Doesn’t “Religion” Mean “Conservative Christian?”

By Ed Kilgore

So the ongoing fiasco of Bobby Jindal’s “let the parents decide” voucher program in Louisiana is finally beginning to get some national media attention, for the simple reason that its logic is carrying it in directions that horrify its strongest proponents and intended beneficiaries. Via Amy Sullivan at TNR, we read this amusing story from the Livingston Parish News:

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools. “I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.
“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges said.
Hodges mistakenly assumed that “religious” meant “Christian.”

Seems a Muslim school applied to receive voucher-backed students. It hasn’t been approved so far—guess that rigorous “vetting” process utilized by the Louisiana Department of Education finally kicked in—but the awful specter has been raised, and will be difficult to banish, at least in the imagination of lawmakers like Valerie Hodges:

We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.

So down plunges the Pelican State into the political and constitutional thicket of how to shovel money to conservative evangelical schools without looking too closely at what they are teaching, while at the same time keeping away schools that conservative evangelicals hate and fear. Having implicitly embraced the idea that not only Muslims, but liberal Protestant Christians like Barack Obama, aren’t actually religious, Republicans can’t complain too much when “the base” can’t understand why such distinctions can’t be written into the law.

Good luck with that, Governor Jindal—and you, too, Mitt Romney, with your own no-strings voucher proposal.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • ckelly on July 06, 2012 11:11 AM:

    I'm willing to establish a Flying Spaghetti Monster school of higher pasta edumacation in the backwoods Bayou State post haste.

    Who's with me?

  • c u n d gulag on July 06, 2012 11:27 AM:

    HA!!! 'Hoist by her own retard!'

    And I bet this feckin' idjit walks around all day, spouting how important it is to follow The Constitution - all, probably without reading it - or, if she did read it, certainly didn't understand one word of it.

    What a dope! WHAT A MAROON!

  • Val on July 06, 2012 11:30 AM:

    Do Mormons have schools that might apply?

  • PeakVT on July 06, 2012 11:41 AM:

    You know, there just aren't a lot of Deist schools.

  • Fess on July 06, 2012 11:48 AM:

    "There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently." says Rep. Valerie Hodges. Really? Is this a world-wide count or just LA? If one actually counted said schools in LA, even the ones that didn't "spring up" recently, could one actually use up all one's fingers?

    No, Mormons don't usually have their own schools except for the fundamentalist polygamists on the NV-UT-CO border. What they do have for high school students is before-school school called seminary for an hour or more every school day. This is in addition to all the other church activities that happen in the afternoons and evenings plus Sunday. Mormons are never short on their religious teaching.

  • Fr33d0m on July 06, 2012 12:02 PM:

    "I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity[....]"

    Seems mistaken is an medical condition she suffers from--but then she is a repugnicon.

  • Grumpy on July 06, 2012 12:14 PM:

    “I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity..."

    Granted, a person cannot be considered well-educated without understanding the basics of one of the world's major religions. However, Hodges and other wall-breakers lately have argued that, because the Founders were Christians, modern-day Americans must be locked in to that choice. Um, wasn't America settled by people who fled countries where the leaders' religion was the default standard?

  • bdop4 on July 06, 2012 12:23 PM:

    "Republicans can’t complain too much when “the base” can’t understand why such distinctions can’t be written into the law."

    Never mind the base, what about their elected representatives? One has to wonder how many squirrels are manning the treadmill powering Rep. Hodges' brain.

    But I guess she is truly representative of her constituents.

  • Josef K on July 06, 2012 12:26 PM:

    Good luck with that, Governor Jindal—and you, too, Mitt Romney, with your own no-strings voucher proposal.

    I actually like ckelly's idea, although it should probably be dressed up with some kind of 'Christian' sounding title and not let slip that its all in service of the FSM.

    This is so frickin' ridiculous Louisiana deserves to be a laughing stock.

  • DRF on July 06, 2012 12:47 PM:

    I'm outraged that taxpayer money would be used to fund religious schools of any denomination. Public schools, and publicly-funded schools, should stick to secular subjects. Parents who want their children to receive religious instruction can readily do so through traditional "Sunday" schools and other after-school programs funded by their churches, synagogues, etc. And if parents insist that their children attend a day school that is religious-based, let them fund the cost themselves.

  • martin on July 06, 2012 1:02 PM:

    Aww, c'mon Ed, you need to read your comments section. I posted this yesterday in the Leaving It Up To Parents post;>

  • 2Manchu on July 06, 2012 1:07 PM:

    Why not just prohibit taxpayer money from going towards a school associated with any religion that has been used to spread hate, violence, and destruction?

    Of course, that would leave only the Quakers and Jainists....

  • James E. Powell on July 06, 2012 1:12 PM:

    It isn't just the dullard right-wingers who assume 'religious' means fundamentalist, right-wing Christians. The corporate press/media has been following and promoting that meaning for thirty years or so. Remember 'values voters' from 2004? What that meant as a practical matter was people who hate gays. But they were presented by the corporate press/media as the ONLY voters who had values.

    And for all of us who take Matthew 25 seriously? Well, we're just a bunch of anti-American heathens.

  • Al Swearengen on July 06, 2012 1:15 PM:

    "University of the Church of the Subgenious--Big Easy" here I come!

  • TCinLA on July 06, 2012 1:44 PM:

    Yeah, we can't have money going to the wrong kinds of religious fundamentalist extremists, can we?

    The woman is a perfect example of your standard-issue white southerner: dumber than a bag of rocks and willing to demonstrate the ignorance in public.

  • catclub on July 06, 2012 2:03 PM:

    Start with: No beards for teachers. Then require pork in the school lunches. What real American doesn't love bacon?
    No texts in Arabic.

    No religious test indeed.
    Loss of vegetarians is collateral win.
    I could do this kind of stuff.

  • ceilidth on July 06, 2012 2:05 PM:

    And my relatives thought it was hyperbole when I said that a lot of Americans want our children to be ignorant and uneducated.

  • c u n d gulag on July 06, 2012 2:23 PM:

    First, separate government and religion - permanently!

    Enough of this “Faith-based” bullsh*t!

    I knew right from ‘jump street’ that this slippery-slope could lead to falling off a cliff.

    Let’s fix the public school systems.

    Religious people can pay to send their kids to their own religious schools at their own expense – and no one will stop them.

    And frankly, I don’t give two sh*ts what they’re taught there.
    Feck ‘em!
    They can teach that the world is 6,000 years old, and that Adam and Eve (NOT Steve!) used dinosaurs as SUV’s, and that Noah shrank them so they fit on his Ark, and that God used his right hand helping things evolve, while his left hand was guiding man – and that the Bible is the only book allowed. Or, frankly any feckin’ insane thing they want.

    They want to feck-up their own kids? FINE – FECKIN’ LET ‘EM!!!

    Let them send them to all of the versions of Liberty University that they want, for higher degrees.

    And then, when their children DO have to go out of their own little Christian bubble, they’ll have to go running back into it – because the real world needs real skills and critical thinking, not praying for solutions to problems, and then spouting Gospel when asked to explain their failure.

    They only places these people will be able to find work is back in the religious schools and churches that spawned them, where they can corrupt future generations of religious morons, until the last generation – when they’re too feckin' stupid to even eat paste or their own boogers when they’re hungry – they’ll die waiting for their Lord to provide.

    Then, maybe the rest of the country, if it’s still here, can go on without these Jesus-anchors dragging us down into the depths.

  • Marko on July 06, 2012 2:37 PM:

    Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools.

    "Fate, it would seem, is not without a sense of irony." - Morpheus

  • warren terrah on July 06, 2012 2:50 PM:

    Its a great pity some hindus in lousiana don'_t set up a hindu school and have bobby jindal try and pretzel his way out of that

  • Another Steve on July 06, 2012 3:38 PM:

    Shorter Hodges: "Madrassahs for me, but not for thee!"

  • Rugosa on July 06, 2012 3:45 PM:

    How nice of Rep. Hodges to provide clear evidence that LA intended to prefer one religion over any others. When the lawsuits start, I'm sure the plaintiffs (be they Muslim, Catholic, or Wiccan) will appreciate it.

  • Anonymous on July 06, 2012 4:24 PM:

    I can't speak the current state of public education in Louisiana, but about 40 years ago when my family moved there from the West Coast (thank goodness I was already in college), my "baby" sister was forced to repeat 2nd grade... except that in that school in Louisiana they called it "3rd grade". So she spent the year bored. My other sister (who was in high school) didn't fare much better. Thankfully the family only stayed there a year before moving back west. And my baby sister grew up to become an elementary school teacher. :-)

  • Sean Scallon on July 06, 2012 4:37 PM:

    "Bobby Jindal wants your taxpayer money to go for terrorist training".

    I think that will fit in a 30 second Ad, don't you agree?

  • GP on July 08, 2012 10:08 AM:

    I would be excited to found a school based on the teachings of the ancient philosopher Epicurus, a man so far ahead of his time he had to leapfrog the Dark Ages (and the intelligentsia of the Catholic church) to be understood and embraced by the likes of Thomas Jefferson. Oh, to teach children that the world is composed of atoms and space, nothing more; that the "soul" dies with the body; that we should live life while we have it and ignore any promise or threat of a mythical after-life. Seems like Louisiana could be ripe for this lesson.