I’ve Never Enjoyed Barney the Dinosaur Until Now November 21, 2008

I’ve Never Enjoyed Barney the Dinosaur Until Now

Barney the Dinosaur asks a very important question to Don McLeroy, chairman of the Texas State Board of Education.

The context is below.

McLeroy has made it clear he does not accept evolution:

Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. “I believe a lot of incredible things,” he said, “The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the god that created the universe.”

But Dr. McLeroy says his rejection of evolution — “I just don’t think it’s true or it’s ever happened” — is not based on religious grounds. Courts have clearly ruled that teachings of faith are not allowed in a science classroom, but when he considers the case for evolution, Dr. McLeroy said, “it’s just not there.”

“My personal religious beliefs are going to make no difference in how well our students are going to learn science,” he said.

Except it makes a huge difference.

Barney came to visit because the Board was listening to testimony over “new proposed standards that would encourage middle school students to discuss alternative explanations for evolution.”

Like Creationism.

Sandhya Bathija of Americans United for Separation of Church and State quotes another Board member:

“All this hysteria has no basis in fact,” said board member Terri Leo. (Leo was amongst four board members who support introducing a Bible curriculum into public schools that has already been ruled unconstitutional.)

This “hysteria” is based in fact, and the fact is, we’ve seen the Religious Right do this before. These tactics aren’t new, and it’s great to see many Texans have caught on. The Discovery Institute and other Religious Right forces may think they’ve found a constitutional loophole to sneak creationist concepts into the classroom, but it won’t work.

Americans United has promised that a lawsuit will be filed as soon as public schools use the “weaknesses” provision to introduce religion.

Wendee Holtcamp was one of the pro-science advocates who spoke out against the Creationists. Her testimonial is incredible. Here she is giving her speech until she gets interrupted:

Despite what the creationist members of the Board say — Ms Lowe, Ms Leo, Ms Cargill, Ms Dunbar, Mr Mercer, Dr McLeroy and others — everybody in the nation knows that this is absolutely a religious battle, that your dislike of evolution and naturalism and any changes to the TEKs that are supported by the Discovery Institute are religiously motivated. Kitzmiller vs Dover clearly showed that ID and these issues are religious in nature. For you to sit there and tell everyone it is not smacks of arrogance and deliberate willful deception. In other words, lying. I know who the Father of Lies…

At which point Chairman McLeroy interrupts me to say, flustered, “We don’t say that word here. You can’t say that word.”

I look at him, confused.

“Lies. You can’t say lies.”

“I can’t say the words lies?” I ask, incredulous…

Wendee adds that a number of a pastors spoke out in favor of evolution, too. Hopefully, more will follow.

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  • Shannon

    Unbelievable! I am ever grateful for the folks that are watching out for this kind of lunacy. This includes you, friendly Atheist.

  • TXatheist

    Thank you Wendee and others. I submitted my letter to be read to the TX SBOE through TFN. Anyone outside of TX may want to know that the big deal about lie is it’s not polite. That’s un-Texan to call someone a liar. It’s not that it’s incorrect but there is a mindset of things you do and don’t do. I had the same problem with my school’s superintendent when I questioned prayer happening at graduation. I asked if it would be ok for an atheist valedictorian to say that xians are stupid and he completely overlooked the argument and retorted we don’t call people stupid and went on for a full minute about that instead of the prayer at graduation thing. How bad is the LYING in Texas? Attorney General Greg Abbott said with a straight face the 10 C monument at the Austin Capitol was there for a secular purpose.

  • I’ve never wanted to bash my head into a desk before but this story’s managed to make me consider it. Oh, how I’m glad I’m not in Texas with a couple kids that need schooling.

    This is terrible. I can’t understand why people cling to Creationism as a method to understand anything about the world. I just can’t. To me, it’s akin to thinking Zeus really turned into a swan to charm women.

  • Go Barney! Go Barney! Go Barney! They want to act like children, we will have to bring in Barney to educate them like children.

  • stogoe

    I really hate that bureaucrats have made the word ‘lies’ a dirty word when in their presence. They get all huffy and ruffled when you try to call them on their lies. they much prefer ‘misrepresentation’ or ‘knowingly made false remarks’. Just one more layer of obfuscation. We should break their taboos more often.

  • Ever hear the saying “name the dark one and he appears?” I think it was the phrase “Father of Lies” that messed up the chairman. She said it, calling the Father Of Lies attention down on the meeting there, and the chair didn’t want that.

    He then covers his superstitious gaffe by saying it was the word lies she couldn’t say.

    I don’t know the guy, but I know how I was when a Christian in Texas and I know lots of them who remain superstitious. She scared him by saying Father of Lies.

  • I’m amused that Holtcamp was about to call lying Christians “Satan”– that’s where she was going with the whole “Father of Lies” thing– but saying the “L” word was the worse part to the Chairperson.

  • Thanks to people like Wendee for standing up to this nonsense. Creationism smacks of such lunacy. I mean, they defend it like they have to, not really believing that anything could be older than 6,000 years. It’s seems so limitless. Then to claim that it’s not religious…. please. Pack it up, people.

  • Chad B

    Its really hilarious how that guy says that he “believes in amazing things” one of which being of course the story of jesus. Does he thing that evolution is not an amazing story? Insert foot in mouth.

  • I’m warning you: if you say “Jehovah” once more..

    It would be a hilarious comedy if it weren’t so tragic.

  • Richard Wade

    Imagine a Holy Texas Empire of the future, a sovereign country living in their very young universe. None of their attempts at science work well because what they observe doesn’t match what they are supposed to believe. The genes they see make no sense in life forms that are supposed to have been instantly created only 6,000 years ago. The steady decay of radioisotopes confounds the few remaining Texas scientists who try to maintain their government-mandated faith in the face of what they can see with their own eyes. The number of annual layers in glaciers is a state secret. Even the speed of light is a constant source of confusion and official interference. Their biology doesn’t work, their geology doesn’t work, their physics doesn’t work, they just can’t make things work. Texans who cannot suppress their own intelligence emigrate to other countries to escape death sentences for heresy. For a while the Holy Texas Empire’s Fidocrats are able to buy or steal science-based things from “heathen” countries, but they steadily fall behind the rest of the world. They become a quaint, sad, one-day stopover for tourists on their way to some place interesting.

  • I would not fret about it, too much. As a teacher here in TX and someone who is active in the ongoing TEKS revisions, the nuts are out in force, but reason will prevail.
    As for calling him a liar, she should have kicked him in the nuts.

  • Wow cool that you linked to my testimony! I think I read your book?!!! Did you write a book? I also blogged a fuller account of what happened, with photos, at Daily Kos. Check it out and rec it in the Tip Jar (1st) comment if you can so we can get more awareness of this important issue! 🙂

  • Oh one more thing – I think the most insidious thing that Christians do is when they so blatantly lie in the name of religion. The reality is they believe this is a holy war they are fighting, and a just cause, and so I guess they must justify their actions acting all innocent like this “isn’t about religion.” But lying and hypocrisy is antithetical to all that Jesus represents.

  • Spurs Fan

    Oh, how I’m glad I’m not in Texas with a couple kids that need schooling

    Unfortunately, I do live in Texas and happen to have a couple of kids. This battle has been going on for quite some time and it looks like us rationalists may be on the losing end of it. Just know that there are many great Texans who are fighting the good fight. And please don’t let us secede!

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