The other day, I mentioned how Illinois was considering adopting Scientology’s “Good Choices Program” into public schools. Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, was advocating for the program developed by her non-profit group Happy House.
Illinois hasn’t accepted or rejected the program just yet, but I was pleased to see the Illinois Family Institute arguing against its adoption. Laurie Higgins and I are on the same page! (It threw me off for a second… I wasn’t sure I could handle that.)
As it turns out, though, we don’t like it for very different reasons.
I’m against it because the program contains all sorts of bullshit passages and it introduces well-known Scientology recruiting material into public schools.
Higgins is against it because it’s not Christian enough.
The Good Choices Program posits that moral rectitude and good works are the “way to happiness.” While moral rectitude makes for a healthier society and prevents a great deal of suffering, a life of good works and moral rectitude alone cannot bring real happiness. Real happiness can be found only in submission to the will of God.
Got that, atheists? None of you can ever truly be happy. Glad we have Laurie to point that out to us.
Higgins goes on to point out how the teachings of the 21 Precepts contradict the Bible.
(Also contradicting the Bible? The Bible.)
She makes it sound as if this “character building” material would have received IFI’s approval if only Cartwright and others had simply quoted the Good Book. I mean, it’s promoting silly things like self-reliance!
“Happiness lies in engaging in worthwhile activities. But there is only one person who for certain can tell what will make one happy–oneself.” These teachings reveal both the primacy of works and the primacy of self in Hubbard’s false religion, both of which are incompatible with a Christian world view.
The problem with the Scientology material isn’t that it’s anti-Christian — it’s that it offers a religious basis for things that don’t need to be supported by religion. Religion doesn’t have a monopoly on building character. And IFI is wrong to suggest that the positive values contained in The Way To Happiness are “derived” from the Bible. Good values existed long before various religions codified them in their holy books. No one faith can claim them as their own.
Higgins is right about one thing, though:
If a character-building curriculum based on the teachings of the founder of the Church of Scientology is acceptable in our Illinois public schools, then I assume a character-building curriculum based on the teachings of the “founder” of Christianity would be equally acceptable.
I see no reason to doubt that. But this is why we shouldn’t allow any one religion’s teachings to represent “the truth.” A secular curriculum would be just fine.