Monday, March 21, 2005


Scottish bishop, Australian school marm acting up

Bishop Joseph Devine is president of the Catholic Education Commission in Scotland so his interpretation of the recently released "A Charter for Catholic Schools" is the interpretation that counts.

According to Hamish MacDonald in The Scotsman, Bishop Devine said—

Being homosexual would not at all be compatible with the charter. It would cut across the whole moral vision enshrined in the charter.

It would be offering a lifestyle that is incompatible with Catholic social teaching.

And when the bishop says "incompatible" he means it.

Bishop Devine, the Bishop of Motherwell, said the charter would provide the framework to make sure gays were not employed in Catholic schools and would probably limit the promotion opportunities of those already employed.

He said: "In practice, I would think that it is possible that some may have been hired, but [the schools] may not have known until it was too late.

"That’s our fault for not making the proper checks and references. The charter tightens it up." [emphasis added]

He sounds more American than Scottish.

But anti-gay discrimination in employment is expressly forbidden in Scotland, and a trip to the court is predicted if the policies are pursued.

The Rev Ewan Aitken, COSLA’s [the local governing body] education spokesman, said: "Local authorities would never countenance discriminating against a teacher because of sexual orientation. Councils would be in court in seconds."

Europeans of the religious right are trying to pull off some of the same maneuvers that they have beheld with envy in the U.S. And evangelical Christianity is beginning to insert itself in the upcoming British elections [more on that in another post].

Happily there is a great deal more secular humanism—or old-fashioned Christianity—in Europe than in the U.S.

Judith Gillespie, from the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, described Bishop Devine’s views as "very sad".

She said: "His comments are worse than unfair and it reflects on the church that it wants to reject a group of people who are not choosing their lifestyle. I thought Christianity was about inclusion and brotherhood."

Australian pedagogue

Meanwhile, back in the States the idea that openly gay people would be hired in most parts of the country is just ridiculous. But you'll have no problem if you're a Bible-thumping nincompoop and wear your hair in a pompadour or bouffant.

Perhaps the American fondness for religious nuttery was what brought Aussie teacher Kristie Griffiths over to the Land of the Freely Indoctrinated.

Visiting in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Ms. Griffiths went out and bought her own instructional materials—A Beka Book. A Beka Book's website boasts that—

Our skilled researchers and writers do not paraphrase progressive education textbooks and add Biblical principles; they do primary research in every subject and look at the subject from God’s point of view.

It is always good to write textbooks from God's point of view. I probably should be doing the same at Simply Appalling so that you will be assured inerrancy.

Anyway, before anyone could say "Mother of God," Ms. Griffiths was teaching a lesson called "Scents Make Sense" to her fifth-grade class. According to Kristin Collins of the News & Observer,

"God's word tells us about a kind of odor only Christians have ...," the lesson read. "Christians carry forth the fragrance of Christ wherever they go by the way they live; that is, they remind people of Him.

"Could someone find Christ by the scent trail you are leaving behind you?"

Ms. Griffiths herself left a scent trail that led the school district into federal court.

In November or December, Ashlee Nicole Smith, a school spelling bee champion and president of the Sunnyside Beta Club, showed the scent lesson and one other to her parents, Troy and Mary Jane Smith of Fayetteville. The other lesson said, "God has a niche for each creature He has created, down to the tiniest microscopic being. He also has a niche for each person He has created."

The suit says that when the parents complained to principal Deborah Anderson, she asked, "What's the problem? Don't you and your family go to church?"

Anderson also told the parents she didn't understand their objections, because Ashlee earned perfect scores on the assignments. Anderson then promised that it wouldn't happen again.

In February, it did.

Ashlee came home with a worksheet on which she was marked wrong for answering that "chance" was the reason many animals are colored to match their surroundings. The teacher indicated that the right answer was "God's master design," the suit says. [emphasis added]

Well, I'm sympathetic to Ashlee because I get that one wrong every time too.

The federal judge upbraided the school district, and they have promised never to do it again. But the school superintendent explained that the teacher didn't understand that what she was doing was against the law because she is a foreigner.

Harrison said Cumberland schools have a policy, mandated by federal law, that bars teachers from endorsing any religion.

He said that Kristie Griffiths, the teacher, is a visiting faculty member from Australia and did not understand U.S. standards....

I think Ms. Griffiths understood U.S. standards very well. What she didn't understand is that you mustn't leave a scent trail.

Related post
Encouraging wassatiya in the schools (6/10/04)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to church... (8/18/04)

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