Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Evolution/Creationism: Intolerance in Boulder Colorado

There is plenty of debate on the Internet these days about the Origins of the Species (Charles Darwin) and the whole Biological Evolution Theory that has developed since the publication in 1859. In this modern age where science has proven many theories including Evolution, I find it odd that the creationists are now bullying people in school if they accept Evolution to explain the development of the species including us, Homo Sapien Sapien. Why should a young woman in Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette Colorado (A suburb of Colorado, USA) K12 be subject to such bullying in the school ground to such an extent she wished to commit suicide.

Where were the teachers, and how did they deal with it. I don't know who that was or the details, but Barrie Hartman below put an article in the Denver Post for Jan 02 2005 that horrified me. Christian Fundamentalists should understand Science, and freedom of religion, there young ones should not conduct any campaign against anyone that disagrees with them on the subjects of Science or Religion.

Such ignorance of basic rights in such a country as the USA is non-defensible.

Apparently, according to the Daily Camera article School district,police investigating charter school by Amy Bounds 10 December 2004, this sort of thing is not uncommon for this school and quite a number of parents have got the police in to investigate.

Louise Benson, one of the parents at that school wrote a letter to the editor published 30.12.04, "Religious discrimination is immoral and illegal" and thus I say those offenders need to be taken to court and charged. This was in response to Amy Bounds original report School Harassment Debated.

New year, new level of tolerance, perhaps?

By barriehartman@aol.com Barrie Hartman Sunday, January 02, 2005 - Here in Boulder land, where the left is always right and the right is always wrong, a debate is raging over whether a public school is really a religious school. Peak to Peak charter school in Lafayette is just a stone's throw from the liberal city of Boulder. Some parents are accusing Peak to Peak of turning into a Christian academy funded by tax dollars. The tension, they say, has caused a few teachers to quit and some parents to pull out their kids. Even worse, a girl attempted suicide last month after complaining she was bullied by students for believing in evolution, not creationism. Peak to Peak and district officials staunchly defend the K-12 school, saying that it is neither plagued by "fundies" (fundamental Christian bullies) nor subservient to an evangelical agenda. Because I know parents who founded Peak to Peak, I'm skeptical about the validity of the accusations. However, if religious education is actually making inroads into the liberal heartland of the state, what, for goodness sakes, is happening elsewhere? It's a serious matter that needs to be watched. Yet, I worry about the growing tendency to shoot first and ask questions later, a category into which the Lafayette situation may well fall. In any case, religious tolerance is being tested like never before, and we liberals can be just as guilty of seeing a conspiracy at the drop of a Bible as the right can be in seeing hatred for Jesus in every religious challenge. Granted, there's good reason for liberals to be wary. The born-agains, with their newfound power, are letting their true feelings hang out, such as judging homosexuality as sinful rather than as a biological roll of the dice. Or teaching children that the Earth is 6,000 years old, as the Bible says, not 4.5 billion-plus, as scientific evidence makes clear. Or not just opposing abortion, but admitting that the ultimate target is contraception.

Or condemning stem-cell research, even though exploration could lead to improving lives for victims of savage diseases like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's in decades to come. And then there's the Iraq war, which many evangelicals defend as a crusade for Christ. As wrong as I feel Christian rightists are on these issues, there are others that we liberals shouldn't be so reticent about supporting - such as resisting gay marriage. It's clear that the nation isn't ready for that yet. But - hooray! - the right may be willing to accept civil unions as a compromise. Let's go for it. Also, how many of us Christian libs were just as bothered as the right - but said nothing - when the Downtown Denver Partnership barred floats with religious themes from the holiday parade? Or how many of us stood with the right in expressing displeasure as schools and cities went overboard making certain no one was offended by saying "Merry Christmas" or by singing a Christmas song?

My grandson, a fourth-grader, sang in the "winter program" at his school in Thornton. I didn't recognize a single song. Apparently, neither did anyone else. "Good grief," grumped a mom. "Couldn't they at least have sung 'Frosty the Snowman?"' We liberal Christians must be careful not to judge conservatives as being of one mind on everything. We're certainly not. My mail, phone calls and friendships show as many differences among Christian rightists as among any grouping of adults. To place them solidly in the mindset of the Jerry Falwells and James Dobsons is as wrong as labeling liberals as anti-American and morally vapid. Jim Vandel of Cheyenne illustrates the dilemma so many of us experience. "As a conservative, I want to have a balanced budget and a strong national defense," he writes. "As a Methodist, I want to be able to tolerate others' beliefs while they tolerate mine. I want to support the Constitution but don't want it changed in order to protect the flag or deny rights to gays or anybody else not exactly like me. "What I don't understand is why others call themselves conservative and yet support politicians wanting to spend us into bankruptcy, conduct a totally unnecessary and probably counterproductive war and support actions that would stifle freedom in this country. "Bottom line, I have become confused about liberal/conservative." Vandel then goes on to suggest that many of us on the left and right actually belong in "the radical center." The point is most of us are not purely one way or the other. And that means there ought to be ways to break down the walls of arrogant resistance between us. Nothing like a brand new year to get the ball rolling.

As one of the families complaining of religious harassment at Peak to Peak, I have read with interest the responses of other families. Obviously, not all families have experienced what we have, but this does not mean it did not happen to some families, and there is plenty of commentary supporting that it did. But the hysterical critique of Daily Camera journalists Amy Bounds and Aimee Heckel by Peak to Peak founder Raul Campos (Open Forum, Dec. 22) begs for a response. We are not complaining about someone saying "God bless you" or having "In God We Trust" on money. We are talking about persistent, vicious religious harassment by Christian fundamentalists, which has gone unaddressed by the administration, with tragic consequences. The term "witch hunt" was used by Campos, and elsewhere by a teacher. It's pretty obvious that the only witch hunts are occurring in the halls at Peak to Peak. Religious discrimination is immoral and illegal! I don't doubt that Peak to Peak founders designed the curriculum with good intentions. The question is what is happening now at the school, and why, and whether it can be fixed. A little bright light is a good thing: don't kill the messenger.

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