Apparently, Florida State Board of Education (SBOE) member Donna Callaway didn’t pay attention in her high school American history classes. If she had, she would’ve learned about the separation of church and state and the Jeffersonian principles behind it.
Thomas Jefferson, a deeply religious Republican – which had a very different meaning from today’s “Republican” – wrote in a letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist Association: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
I learned about this separation of church and state in the early years of high school. Maybe Callaway was absent when her teachers covered it. Regardless, she has vowed to vote against the proposed new state science standards because evolution “should not be taught at the expense of other theories of the origin of life,” according to the St. Petersburg Times.
“(I hope that) there will be times of prayer throughout Christian homes and churches directed toward this issue,” said Callaway.
Callaway is explicitly against the exclusive teaching of evolution. According to the proposed new state science standards, the three points of evolution to be taught are: “evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence, organisms are classified based on their evolutionary history, and natural selection is the primary mechanism leading to evolutionary change.” She is against these standards because they are concentrated on evolution.
She voiced her opinion in a similar fashion to how I voice mine – in a column in the Florida Baptist Witness, a weekly print in Jacksonville that is a branch of the Florida Baptist Convention. The only difference is that the Oracle is a publication not explicitly affiliated with anything, especially a religion.
“As a SBOE member, I want those prayers,” she said. “I want God to be part of this. Isn’t that ironic?”
Yes, it’s extremely ironic. Considering that this country was founded on the basis of religious freedoms that one of the founding fathers explicitly advocated the separation of church and state, and that the Constitution implicitly states it in the first amendment, it’s horrendously ironic that she is willing to strip everything this country was founded on for her own religious convictions.
Although the theory of evolution is still controversial, it is the best answer to the question of ‘where did we all come from?’ Based on scientific gatherings and discoveries, it is comparatively better than a theory based on religious convictions.
Education is a state-run program. Introducing the other popular idea of creationism, for which she appears to be arguing, only pushes this state and this country further from one of its original ideals – freedom of religion. Combining religion and education is the same as combining church and state – it’s just plain wrong.
Private ideas should not be taught in public schools. Although creationism may be a popular idea, it has a religious basis and religion is a private matter. If a private or parochial school wanted to teach creationism, that would be fine. Schools relying on public funding cannot morally teach creationism. The only moral choice they have is to teach evolution, because if they did teach creationism, they would be negating everything for which this nation originally stood and still stands.
It is morally reprehensible to teach creationism in public schools, because doing so could cause confusion. Many students enrolled in Florida public schools are not Christians and do not share Christian ideas of origin or holidays. It’s discriminatory to other people’s religions to teach a concept that’s based in one religion.
There’s no reason Florida’s tax dollars should go toward teaching a concept that stems from religion and not from scientific fact. It’s pointless, unreasonable and discriminatory for creationism to be taught in public schools. If we all did come from Adam and Eve, then my affinity for apples would be as easily explained as the natural, inherent evilness of women in general. After all, it was a woman who cast us all into sin.
Amy Mariani is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.