Why Is Pushing Creationism So Damn Important to Wingnuts?

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:14 EDT
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One thing I kind of love, as a lover of dramatic irony going down in real life, is contrasting the inevitable elders squawking “kids these days” with the actual realities of how irritatingly great kids these days often are. Like 19-year-old Zack Kopplin, who is making news going on the rampage against voucher schools that are basically being established with an eye towards using public funding for religious instruction. He has an editorial up at Melissa Harris-Perry’s blog about how serious the problem is of voucher schools replacing science education with creationist religious beliefs.

Here are a few highlights from creationist voucher schools I have identified:

  • The Beverly Institute in Jacksonville, Florida, teaches “Evidence of a Flood,” and “Evidence against Evolution,” and ”The Evolution of Man: A Mistaken Belief.”
  • Creekside Christian Academy in McDonough, Georgia says,“The universe, a direct creation of God, refutes the man-made idea of evolution. Students will be called upon to see the divine order of creation and its implications on other subject areas.
  • Life Christian Academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma says their life science class will “lead the student to recognize that God created all living things and that these living things are fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Evolution is taught only in history class, where students “evaluate the theory of evolution and its flaws.”  The school uses the creationist Bob Jones and CSI curriculums.
  • The principal of the Claiborne Christian School, in West Monroe, Louisiana, says in a school newsletter, “Our position at CCS on the age of the Earth and other issues is that any theory that goes against God’s Word is in error.” She also claims that scientists are “sinful men” trying to explain the world “without God” so they don’t have to be “morally accountable to Him.”
  • Trinity Academy, in Gary, uses the creationist ABeka curriculum and says it “presents the universe as the direct creation of God and refutes the man-made idea of evolution.”
  • Rocky Bayou Christian School, in Niceville, Florida, says in its section on educational philosophy, “God mandates that children be discipled for Christ. They must be trained in the biblical world view which honors Jehovah, the sovereign Creator of the universe. It recognizes that man was created in the image of God” and says “Man is presumed to be an evolutionary being shaped by matter, energy, and chance… God commands His people not to teach their children the way of the heathen.”
  • Wisconsin Lutheran High School, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says in its biology syllabus that it teaches, “evolutionists are ‘stuck’ because they have no god, therefore they must believe in evolution” and “young earth evidence a disaster to evolutionists.”

What always interests me about defenders of creationism is how they clearly don’t think of children as people in their own right, but instead property that you use to enact your ideological obsessions. Teaching kids creationism is bad for them. In fact, Kopplin’s campaign is primarily built around the argument that if all children have a right to a publicly funded education, we are failing to honor their rights by giving them a bunch of Christian nonsense instead of a proper science education. Replacing biology with creationism is likely to cut off many otherwise bright students from a career in science, and can limit the colleges they go to.

On this blog, a lot of time is spent investigating patriarchal attitudes about women’s roles, and how in a patriarchy women are expected to be a servant class to cater to men and not people in their own right. In this system, children face a similar kind of oppression. As women are believed to be the servants of men, children are believed to be extensions of the father, and to display utter fealty to his way of thinking so he can demonstrate his power to other men. That’s why conservatives are so hostile to public education. The children are to believe what Daddy believes, no matter how silly Daddy’s beliefs, and if that requires censoring the truth and going out of your way to hide it from children, so be it. The rights of children to have an education will always bend in this worldview to the rights of the conservative Christian father to control the brain space of his kids.

That’s why conservatives are so dogged in trying to find ways to get into the schools and replace biology with creationism. It’s a symbolic battle for them. Winning it is achieving a symbolic demonstration of their belief that the father’s right to brainwash his child trumps the child’s right to an education.

Yes, I know that a lot of fathers don’t want their kids to learn biology, and that should, in theory, conflict with the Father Owns Your Ass mentality that drives this. But it’s not like we’re dealing with logical people here, first of all. And second of all, because of this, anyone who prefers biology is quietly set aside as undeserving of the role of the patriarch, and thus someone whose desires for his children doesn’t count. Thus is the way of wingnuts.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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