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Public School and Creation Museum

I may submit a ‘Letter to The Editor’ to Midlothian Mirror when I want to spend more time on their website looking for the place to post it. I suspect it is easier to find in the print edition. The original blurb is from, what looks to be, an outside news service. It was about FFRF sending letters to public school districts warning them of the unconstitutional nature of official trips to ‘Creation Museum’ and Ark Encounters’. In response, the ‘Parks’ are offering free admission to official school trips.

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Thanks go out to Freedom From Religion Foundation ( FFRF ) for reminding Public Schools that school sponsored trips to religious theme parks are not Constitutional, free admission or otherwise. ( Midlothian Mirror 2019-02-07 Faith Section ).

While a trip to the attractions mentioned ( ‘Ark Encounters’ and ‘Creation Museum’ ) could certainly be used as a learning process, we should leave that choice, and cost, up to the guardians of the individual student. Public School money should not be spent indoctrinating children to religion.

We could save a trip and have an open discussion about how likely or unlikely these exhibits are to depict actual events. We could openly and honestly debate which laws of nature would need to be overturned in order for the events depicted in the exhibit to actually be real. A forum where students are allowed to question those things that don’t make sense. That would be educational. Unfortunately I doubt an honest and open discussion is the intention of these particular attractions. Another reason not to use public money, there is little reason to think that either of these exhibits depict anything that is actually true.

John McClean

Midlothian Freethought.

Yes, That would be a Wonderful, Yet Imaginary Place.

This is a response to a friend that was basing his reality on powerful people doing good for us all and that if that were not the case, they would be punished.

Man o man would I like to live in that world. Where powerful, wealthy, greedy people don’t successfully conspire and collude to make sure they stay on top of the heap. Where those same powerful people don’t spend a good deal of that power and wealth to undermine the laws and agencies set up to police them. Where the agencies that are there to give us voice and protect our interests, were not under the control of the aforementioned ruling class. Agencies that are not starved of the needed money and power, to actually do the job they were created to do. A place where those that are kept in check by strong laws and powerful government agencies did not have the power to render those tools useless. A place where our leaders have humanity’s best interests at heart.

Yep, that surely would be a wonderful, yet imaginary, place.

Sadly we don’t live in that place.

To your point. We know the technology exists to fill our skies with chemicals, whether it be weather modification, warfare, climate change remediation, or simple communications enhancement. The patents are there. The government manuals are there. The potential for gaining or keeping great power and wealth are there. They openly talk of this technology. The ONLY thing, the ONLY thing, that keeps them from doing it, is the honesty and humanity of those that make the rules. If that fails, and we know it has, then the laws and agencies that protect us are our last hope. (See first paragraph).

As with any technology that would not be popular, but benefits those described above. They will employ it when they can, and tell you about it when it’s safe for them to do so. If they tell you the truth at all. What it does to humanity and our planet are not on the top of the list.

We live in a place where there is a substantial divide between what those on the top of the heap can get away with, compared to those on the bottom. They have the power to do illegal things and buy the justice they need or change the rules in their favor.

We live in world where most people know what’s going on, or worse, what could be going on, based on visible reality. They simply do not have the freedom to change things without running into the above described class of greedy humans. Dissent, even in large groups, will be penalized and/or marginalized one way or another. Don’t forget who makes the rules, hint – it’s not us.

Neutrality, Our Government and Religion

“Nothing stands behind the Court’s assertion that governmental affirmation of the society’s belief in God is unconstitutional except the Court’s own say-so, citing as support only the unsubstantiated say-so of earlier Courts going back no further than the mid-20th century,” Scalia wrote.”

What the courts have said, and yes their ‘say-so’ actually has weight of law, is that the government cannot show favoritism toward one religion, or another, or no religion, unless it passes certain tests, usually requiring some secular purpose. I suspect the justices would argue the accusation of ‘unsubstantiated’. Interpreted from the Constitution and quite substantial in its own right.

Justices can and have been on the wrong side of issues many times, that is the nature of interpreting founding documents when the founders are all gone. Times change, and it is up to them to decide what stays and what leaves.

The phrase “respecting an establishment of religion” is not so clear cut that it only comes into play if the government wants to actually create ( or sanction ) a national religion. In which one particular belief system is ok and the rest are second class, or worse. It has been interpreted to mean that the government cannot support or favor any particular belief system, it must remain neutral in those matters. It cannot promote or hinder the individual with respect to religion or lack of religion. The courts have the job of deciding what that neutrality should look like. The common sense answer would be to not support, either with money or power, any particular belief system. Neutrality. No religious symbols on public property, no religious reference on the money, no tax dollars supporting religion, no special privileges or tax breaks for religion, and certainly no religious coercion of children in publicly financed schools. I suspect if the public schools were to offer a true objective course on comparative religion, it could do so. I also suspect it would be the last thing the dominant religion(s) in this country would want. Talk about a generation of freethinkers.

Families are free to exercise their belief system at whatever institution they wish, teach their kids, give their money and time, etc. But the government should stay neutral. That is to avoid ‘respecting the establishment of religion’.

“Historical practices thus demonstrate that there is a distance between the acknowledgment of a single Creator and the establishment of a religion,” Scalia wrote in McCreary. “Publicly honoring the Ten Commandments is thus indistinguishable, insofar as discriminating against other religions is concerned, from publicly honoring God. Both practices are recognized across such a broad and diverse range of the population — from Christians to Muslims — that they cannot be reasonably understood as a government endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint.”

Justice Scalia may be right with respect to most religious observances in this country, but publicly honoring God and The Ten Commandments ( surely he can’t say that with a straight face ) only applies to the majority and that is exactly what the Constitution was trying to avoid, the majority deciding what religion is acceptable. He only reinforces the reason why the government must remain neutral. The Justice may have unwittingly became the poster child for the principle he was trying to refute.

And given the Establishment Clause is followed directly by the Free Exercise Clause (“or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”), one might also infer that the Founders felt that the ability to exercise one’s religion freely is a fundamental natural right. If that is the case, when it comes down to disputes over public displays of religion, it seems that the FFRF are the only party in these disputes actually threatening anyone’s constitutional rights.

Just the opposite, organizations like FFRF are working to make sure everyone, non-religious and religious, can practice their beliefs freely without government coercion.

The notion that the Constitution guarantees “separation of church and state” is an insidious myth, employed by militant atheists to keep Christian communities and individuals from celebrating their faith publicly.

The myth here is that this concept is to keep anyone from practicing their beliefs. Rather it is to keep that freedom safe. Perhaps a little reading on the works of Thomas Jefferson and others on their interpretation of the establishment clause. An ideal to keep everyone safe from the dominant religion using the government as a sponsor. Neutrality, plain and simple.

Our National Myths

One of the many services offered by atheist and freethought organizations ( among others ) is myth-busting. 9/11 is our National myth. Myths are lies that are propagated in order to benefit a few at the cost of the many. David Ray Griffin goes into detail with this idea in his writings.

Myths usually are fairly plausible stories, but eventually they have to insert a miracle in order for them to work.

Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, but it had to level out over a distance of a quarter mile, at over 500 mph, in order to hit the building but not scrape the lawn and not damage the ground floor foundation. It had to be level with the ground and flying almost at near ground level in order to match the smoky flash in the 5 frames video. Experienced pilots say it could not have leveled out at that speed, could not have gone that speed that close to the ground, and would likely have broken apart way before it reached the building. Insert miracle.

Two aircraft hit the Twin Towers. Experienced pilots say they could not have hit that relatively small target going that speed. Plus course corrections at the last minute would have destroyed the aircraft. Insert miracle.

The 2 towers came down at near free-fall speed in the path of most resistance and still had enough power to completely pulverize most of the concrete and office contents to a micron size dust. Insert miracle.

As they fell, the towers ejected multi-ton steel beams laterally for hundreds of feet. All the while maintaining enough momentum to pulverize the lower floors. Some of that debris hit Building 7 and caused enough damage to cause the building to collapse, some floors at free-fall speed, in its own footprint, because of office fires. Later that was changed to the sliding beam theory. NIST said it made sense but declined to release the science behind that declaration. Insert miracle.

The Shanksville flight crashed in a field and was totally swallowed up by the ground, leaving no visible plane debris and no bodies. Although there was one of the engines found in a lake 8 miles away. We can conclude it was shot down. If it was shot down, chances are good it would continue to break up as it headed to the ground and debris would be everywhere. Less need for a miracle, but still.

The official story is not backed up by the evidence. In fact in some cases they don’t even try, such as the NTSB interpretation of the FDR data. But since it is our National Myth, we can’t question. If you do, you will be labeled a fool or a Conspiracy Theorist. A label made mainstream by our national security forces a half a century ago, might want to consider why that was? Have you taken a good look at the things this country has done over the last two decades? To question should be the default position.

It does make one wonder if the reason we insert a supreme being into our politics so often is to keep the idea of myth alive and well. So the notion of believing in something with no proof or even contradictory proof will be maintained as acceptable. An idea to be used as the need arises. It certainly can’t be to set any sort of an example, based on what we see in politics today.

Are Our Leaders Worth Half Staff?

Or is it just patriotic propaganda? Whether you put your flag at half staff or even fly the flag at all, for the 30 days you have been re-commanded to by President Trump, since it was already in effect from a proclamation originally issued by Eisenhower, depends on how you view the deeds of George H.W. Bush. You can view him as one of the important elements of the Bush crime family, a war criminal, and/or a President with good deeds under his belt. It is possible to be all three, very much the situation in this case. Although, as with most any Presidents, what is ostensibly portrayed as good, may or may not have had good intentions, or actually even happened considering we are some of the most propagandized populations in the world, and have been since the benefits of public relations were revealed after WWII, there is too much digging required to assess the actual results of an act. Perhaps the source of the sentiment “Never let a good crisis go too waste”. Let’s not forget ‘Manufactured Consent’.

If you believe that this President, just as all others in that office, cannot help but be guilty of serious crimes that do not deserve such respect, then to fly the flag at all is to admit those crimes were less than the good done. The millions that die, the Democratic nations that were overthrown, and lesser, but serious, crimes to our nation, our Democracy, and the planet. These things, we are to forget about. All normal conduct for an empire leader. Even if the President has no real control over these crimes and atrocities, he is guilty for not standing up and saying so, even if to deaf ears.

But, as we all should know by now, punishment for crimes done by the wealthy and powerful are dealt with by the oligarchy and not by the justice system all the rest of us are subject to. Really just depends on if the crime was against or for those above you or below you on the socioeconomic ladder.

Do We Really Care About Our Planet?

Letter to the Editor circa 2005. Could still apply ( as in ‘no progress’).

Don’t be so surprised

My sympathies to Ms ##### of Waxahachie (Letter to the Editor 5/11/05). With regard to the polluting industries here in Midlothian and all across America, for that matter.

We may convince our local leaders that we as a community would like to clean up these problems, but is that really enough. The current leadership running this country has shown absolutely no concern for the downward spiral our planet has taken, while at the same time giving big business everything it asks for. Since taking office over 4 years ago, more than 300 environmental laws have been weakened, in addition to those simply not enforced. While I think they have faltered badly and should have been impeached yesterday, I see them as a reflection of society

James Watt, Interior Secretary under President Reagan publicly expressed the feeling that his god was going to return the planet to anew. Polls indicate that close to 40% of the population is in agreement with him, 20% of which believe it will happen in the next 50 years. With this sort of philosophy guiding our country, then as well as now, why are we surprised that resources are not devoted to averting long term environmental problems.

The bottom line is there is a price to pay for having a safe, happy, and healthy planet. We have not been willing to pay the true cost of what we consume. We want highways everywhere and inexpensive houses, but we don’t want the dirty air cheap cement gives us. We want local jobs and main-street prosperity, but we continue to buy the cheapest foreign junk we can find. We want healthy food for our family but we put family farmers out of business by the hundreds a year and then feed our kids processed fast food from factory farms. We don’t want polluted skies but gas guzzling SUV’s are the biggest sellers. Heart disease and cancer are the top killers in this country, yet we still consider meat and dairy good for us. We want cheap power but we gripe about the pollution from coal and gas and the danger of nuclear. If we paid the true cost for what we consume by not trashing our planet in the process, a gallon of gas would be 15 dollars, a fast food burger would be 50 dollars, and the cost for highways and houses would jump 100 percent

What can you do? Jump up and down and hope someone is not afraid to ask why, really. Get every person you know to pick an issue and look deep and hard. Tell them ahead of time, it won’t be pretty if not downright upsetting, whatever the subject. Stop listening to the corporate news media. If you’re ready to have your comfortable world upset for the near future and likely beyond, take a couple of hours to visit some of the news sites listed on midlothiantexas.net (like commondreams.org). These sites are offering unfiltered news from real people. You can then choose to return to the comfort of the status-quo, those of us jumping up and down will not hold it against you. At least you know.

America has been in the comfort zone too long, both locally and internationally, and the first step is a big one. Hopefully we’ll take it sooner and not later, there is too much at stake.

John McClean

Midlothian Texas

On Going Barefoot and Dress Codes

From the archives. LTE Nov 2001. The precise links may not be valid, but the sites are still up. This issue ended with the Principal and I sitting down. The person simply asked me to wear shoes. They understood where I was coming from, but it was simply a request. So I did. If they had tried any other tack, I would likely have fought the rules.

I was recently informed that shoes are required for all visitors entering the Longbranch School buildings and perhaps any other MISD building governed by similar ways of thinking. I agree to temporarily comply with the request out of courtesy to those that have requested it. This short period will allow me to present reasons why my choice to wear shoes, should remain my choice. MISD may also use this time to present reasonable arguments to justify depriving me of this choice.

Dress Code – I read the dress code prior to enrollment and agree to do my best to see that my children adhere to it, as students. If your an employee of MISD, you no doubt have a similar code that you agreed to when your employment began. As a visitor to any campus, I am not bound by either . Much the same as I am not bound by the employee dress code at Wal-Mart or Kroger. I hope MISD does not decide to hold all visitors to the same code as the students.

Health Code – As far as I know there are no health codes, city or state that require I keep the bottom of my feet covered. Exceptions would be if I was employed in food service. If there is a high probability that I will suffer some injury without foot protection, I would be wise to wear something. In the time I have been traversing the halls of Longbranch I have yet to see an example of sloppy housekeeping. Quite the contrary, the floors are clean, soft, and warm. My thanks to the hard working staff that help to keep them that way. If the issue was health, gloves would be required for students and employees.

Liability – I do have the occasional doubts about our judicial system, but I do not believe that MISD could be held responsible if I should hurt myself while choosing to go without shoes. Informal investigation done by others found very little reference to bare feet in common insurance liability policies. See accompanying document.

Setting a good example – Should we have to wear shoes when visiting a school that requires it’s students to wear shoes, on the premise of setting a “good example” ? No one will argue the merits of setting a good example. I wish more people would work to set better examples regarding the things that really matter. There is and always will be a difference between many of the guidelines we ask our children to abide by and those that apply to adults. They deserve the same respect, but the rules may be different. I tell my children that I can go without shoes because I am responsible for what happens. I am better aware of the dangers and have more resources to handle those dangers and their consequences. Until they are more responsible for themselves and what happens to them in the world at-large , perhaps they should wear shoes. It would be a bad example of another kind for me to go along , simply to “fit in”. I hope my children grow up with the critical thinking skills that are needed to decide when to follow and when to speak up about things that may not follow majority thinking. Whether it be peer pressure or simply the status quo.

The document I have provided covers many of the finer points of going barefoot. It can also be found on the web at http://www.barefooters.org/key-works/KeyArticles.htm.

If your interested in specifics regarding children, shoes, and why it makes a difference. Or the influence of the 1.2 Billion pairs of shoes we buy a year (1996), ( which over 90% are imported ). Or perhaps the reasons we wear shoes beyond what is healthy for our feet.

Check out http://www.unshod.org/pfbc/

 

In light of this information. What is the imperative that supersedes my right to not wear shoes ?

Believing Things w/o Research.

From the LTE archives. circa 2003. I don’t have the original letter from Mr Snyder and have not tried to locate it. – ed

I appreciate Steve Snyder , Midlothian Today 2-13-03 , for checking out those items noted for the “Stella” Award. I was more than willing to believe the stories of extraordinary lawsuits with big awards. It supports my feeling that I pay too much for insurance and the inflation eating my paycheck has a tangible foe.

Superstition is a part of our culture, whether it be Tarot Cards, guiding stars, tea leaves, or spirits that listen to our wishes, guide our daily lives, and determine the outcome of sporting events. Some people will be willing to believe things even when critical investigation shows them to be false, unlikely, or perhaps even in violation of physical laws, as we know them. Some will fail to investigate things or listen to critical analysis because it’s already works for them to believe ‘as is’. In many cases it is not possible to prove, beyond all doubt, that these things don’t exist or are not possible. I suppose I’m not really ready to stop giving others the ‘benefit of the doubt’ when I hear things that may be unlikely. The world could possibly be worse off with a world of cynics and those that would require 100% proof before going forward. We would still be in the Dark Ages if many people in our history had not moved ahead with only unsubstantiated ideas to guide them. You should be willing to believe people or events relative to the cost of such a belief. It really does me little harm if someone wants to bless me when I sneeze, knock on wood when there may be some danger of altering time and space by speculating on the future, or attribute the course of our lives to purple triangles on the far side of the universe. So long as I am not required to adopt their superstitions, support them involuntarily, or base substantial action or even inaction on their likelihood, people are free to think as they wish. When someone requires that you give up time-tested theories of how the world works, it’s time to require more than unsubstantiated claims.

In 2003 there are still many places around the world where people are dying in battles to see who has the most powerful supernatural friend(s). The outrage is our failure to use intellect and experience to realize our potential as human beings guiding the destiny of this planet. We need to encourage critical thinking skills and the ability to look for long-term solutions. We can’t do that if we are willing to relinquish control of our destiny to forces that cannot even be proven to exist, much less exert control.

Thanks Mr. Snyder, now if we can convince a few billion more people, the world will be a better, safer place.

When The 9th Circuit Spoke and Nobody Cared

From the LTE archive circa 2003. ‘Under God’ in the Pledge was in the news.

Thanks Ninth Circuit Court

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court voted 15-14 to take no

further action regarding its June, 2002 ruling in NEWDOW v. U.S.

At that time they declared that “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional and was the equivalent of government endorsed religion. The First Amendment to our Constitution prohibits government from promoting or establishing religion and religious belief. The Pledge of Allegiance should be secular. It is, ideally, a statement of unity for a free people, regardless of whether one believes or disbelieves in religious teachings. This case has nothing to do with the right of people to recite the

Pledge of Allegiance. The decision by the Ninth Circuit panel focused on the inclusion of two words, ‘under God,’ that were not part of the original pledge. The statement that the United States is a nation ‘under God’ is an endorsement of religion. It is a profession of a religious belief, namely, a belief in monotheism.”

Unfortunately our Attorney General just does not seem to get it when he said that no effort will be spared to preserve the rights of our citizens to pledge allegiance to the American flag or this time when he avowed to defend American’s right to declare their patriotism through the voluntary recitation. This has nothing to do with patriotism and I doubt that any school child considers it voluntary. It’s about linking religion with patriotism and it is wrong for the government to be doing it.

So, yes , Mr Ashcroft , as long as “Under God” remains in the pledge our school children will be deprived of this patriotic exercise.

Yes , Mr Ashcroft , as long as you continue to leave this phrase in, it will be just as unconstitutional as school prayer.

As long as the government continues to attempt to associate patriotism with a monotheistic, obviously Christian, god, they will miss out.

Fortunately, millions of school children everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief that they no longer have to pretend to believe in the majority religion just to show their patriotism. Perhaps the courts are right on , just as they were in 1963 with prayer.

“We may not — we must not — allow public sentiment or outcry to

guide our decisions,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote. “The Bill of Rights is, of

course, intended to protect the rights of those in the minority

against the temporary passions of a majority.”

What the recent decision did change from last June , is to narrow the scope to only encompass school recitation of the Pledge as long as it contains ‘Under God’. If we can eliminate the reference to the supernatural, the Pledge will again include all Americans. Currently it is a religious test, contrary to the fourth amendment to the Constitution.

If we just declare that it is unconstitutional to allow the Pledge in public school because of the religious phrase and do not remove the phrase entirely, we will indeed be doing our school children a great injustice.