NTSC: Aron Ra

Here I am at the North Texas Secular Convention.  Yesterday was a lot of fun.  It was good to see fans and friends again.  Since I’ll be hanging out watching talks today (which leaves little time for blogging the news) and drinking (which leaves even less time for normal blog activity), I’m going to live-blog some highlights from the talks. 

First up is Aron Ra.

1.  Rep. Dwayne Bohac, state rep in Texas, has submitted a bill that would allow teachers to decorate their classrooms with pieces of their particular religion and to tell their students about their religious perspective.  It is titled the “Merry Christmas Bill”.

Because as much as Texas politicians piss and moan about the economy and what Obama has done to the country, this type of thing is a priority.

2.  On the Pledge of Allegiance: “My country should be forced to earn my allegiance, not have it promised to it.”

Hell yes.  I hate flags, and I hate the pledge.  They serve to balkanize the world.  They are little more than affirmations that we are on a team that isn’t “the world.”

3.  Nominee for the state board of education: “All I hear is ‘this is how life began’ or ‘this is what the fossil record proves’, but that’s only one side.”

Yes, it is one side – the only side, in terms of science.

On the woman’s website (he only said her name once and I missed it…Barbara something or other) she promotes books that insist on abstinence-only.  Apparently it’s an almost all-Republican (only one Democrat) group voting, so the odds are stacked in her favor.

4.  Voucher program being pushed in Texas.  It will result in privileged students learning pseudoscience, which impacts them because it’s demonstrably false, and it will also result in other children being stuck with underfunded schools.

But it’s in the name of Jesus, so it must be a good thing…

5.  Of course students can still pray in school.  You can’t stop somebody from talking to themselves.

Made me lol.

6.  When dealing with a possible wrong-doing, legal or otherwise, get the evidence before you make the accusation.

Yes.  Hell yes.  If a teacher is proselytizing in class, use your smart phone and record it.  Send the teacher and email asking “Are you really saying x, y, and z?”  Don’t jump the gun.  You want to make it stop?  Be patient and make a case they’ll have a hard time wiggling out of, because they will try.

7.  House Bill 1287 allows for a bible elective course.  An investigation found that only 3 out of 25 courses taught the course in a constitutionally responsible way.  The bill also says the schools teaching the class must get “additional resources”.  Where do you think those are going to come from?

Other materials have been the films The Ten Commandments, The Passion of the Christ, and Left Behind.  Head meet desk.

How many times before “Trust us!  Yeah it’s religion, but we’ll handle it responsibly” stops fooling people?  Of course, people would have to stop wanting to be fooled.

Aron is now going through the list of schools in Texas and talking about some of the “additional resources” they use.  I laughed at the first two or three.  Now I’m wondering if this list will ever end while fighting back tears and trying to resist the urge to commit seppuku.

Test questions at one school:

1.  Explain what happens between Genesis I and II according the gap theory.
2.  What is the strongest evidence of the bible’s divine origin?  (Answer: fulfilled prophecy).
3.  How might the passover be a foreshadowing of Christ?  Have fun, Jewish students.

Amarillo’s course utilized a chart titled “Racial histories as traced to Noah.”

Jesus Christ on a raft, this list just keeps on going.  Many of these “additional resources” go so far as to tell students they need a relationship with Jesus.  This is in tax-funded, supposed-to-be secular schools.  I hope this talk goes on youtube.  I’ll post it when it does.

8.  Defund Planned Parenthood!  Support accidental parenthood.

Texas has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the country.  Hallelujah.

In December of 2012, Planned Parenthood was effectively defunded in Texas for spending 3% of their funds on abortion.  PP was the healthcare provider for 48,000 of Texas 110,000 impoverished women.  Way to deprive almost half the low-income women in your state of healthcare.  Be proud of that, Texas.

Well, now I’m good and filled with cynicism.  Is it beer time yet?

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • EcksLibris

    Thanks for blogging this! I couldn’t make it to the morning, so missed Aron, great write-up on his talk. Back this afternoon to hear Greta talk about her magic bullet … :)

  • Glodson

    2. What is the strongest evidence of the bible’s divine origin? (Answer: fulfilled prophecy).

    Wow. The answer is for the question is bullshit? That’s funny.

    In December of 2012, Planned Parenthood was effectively defunded in Texas for spending 3% of their funds on abortion. PP was the healthcare provider for 48,000 of Texas 110,000 impoverished women. Way to deprive almost half the low-income women in your state of healthcare. Be proud of that, Texas.

    This is why I hate the anti-choice movement. They will harm people, badly. They don’t care about the child after the birth. They only want to force their outdated and stupid morality onto people. They will call women who need medical attention “whores” and “sluts.” They’ll draw up laws to force women to carry a rapist’s fetus to term, or allow women to die when we could save them. Fuck them.

    That and the education issues piss me off to no end. Both are poisons to humanity. One poisons our compassion, as the anti-choice morons reduce women to being less important than their pregnancies, and want the right to decide what other women have to do. Many of them are against contraception, which can fucking prevent the goddamned pregnancies. Then there’s the religion in education, with the desire to poison the knowledge pool of children to keep future generations ignorant.

  • Andrew Kohler

    Re: #1–The Merry Christmas Bill

    I’m sure that the sponsors of this bill will be thrilled when Muslim teachers start decorating the classroom with Koran verses, the Hindu teachers put up pictures of the goddesses Saraswati and Kali, the Wicca teachers hold Ostara festivities, the atheist teachers read from Bertrand Russell and Robert Ingersoll at story time, and the Jewish teachers explain when Jesus is a false Messiah. I’m sure they’ll be like the nice Christian man Matt Dillahunty talked about who heard a traditional Hawaiian (I think) prayer at a football game, felt uncomfortable, and then realized why there should never be state-sponsored prayer in any circumstance. Only that man is obviously capable of empathy and intellectual honesty, and I doubt the sponsors of a bill called Merry Christmas can boast the same. Also, that title is the stupidest I have ever come across for legislation. Not the most dishonest, nefarious, or despicable, but the stupidest.

    Re: #2–This made me very :-D Respect should be earned, not automatically accorded or forced upon us through things like flag idolatry (excuse me, “flag desecration”) laws.

    Just as I suspected, the tracing racial origins to the sons of Noah business is part of the old canard of the curse of Ham being–what else?–black skin. Isn’t black skin also the mark of Cain, though? It’s all very confusing. See:


  • TexasHistoryTeacher

    Great points!

    1) just plain stupid
    2)The pledge is an option for good reason
    3)Creation story is myth not science.
    4).voucher hurt poor kids with parents who can’t or won’t take an active interest in their kids’ education
    5)poor women have Medicaid so PP does not need the $ and they don’t teach prevention strong enough
    6)using cell phones in class is against district policy so our kids use district issued iPads lol
    7)my agnostic daughter took the Bible as Lit class at her high school and saw nothing to prove that Christian bias was used to convert students while smaller districts do use it to convert. It is not a requirement to take this course.


    Keep working to keep our schools religiously neutral !

    • Lilandra

      “poor women have Medicaid so PP does not need the $ and they don’t teach prevention strong enough” Texas History Teacher please do some more research before posting misinformation.

  • anatman

    re: point 2
    you might enjoy ‘international flag burning day’ by new orleans troublemakers and ‘flag desecration rag’ by david rovics.

  • http://politicoid.wordpress.com the_politicoid

    Interesting. I have written a piece on politicoid which addresses the issue of whether it is reasonable to hold the positions of belief in science and religion at the same time, which you may or may not agree with. I am open to all comments as I think we all need to look at this issue carefully. Have a read if you like…

  • baal

    “2. On the Pledge of Allegiance: “My country should be forced to earn my allegiance, not have it promised to it.””
    We are the government. One of the several reasons I’m against the pledge of allegiance is that it objectifies the government as something other than us. We’re supposed to do what ‘it’ tells us and support ‘it’? um, yeah, no. We the people vote for our representatives who are supposed to represent ‘the people’. Dark money, voter suppression and memes of obedience to authority all work to subvert the notion that our (US) government is intend of, by and for the people.