Spencer Iowa school board proposal would put religion back into schools.

It seems the religious nutcases in one town in Iowa want to waste a lot of taxpayer money on the inevitable lawsuits that will come of this:

The school board in Spencer, Iowa is proposing a sweeping policy change. A change that will sanction prayer at graduation exercises and other extra-curricular activities, allow for the distribution of religious materials on school grounds, and allow the employee (e.g. teachers) expression of personal religious beliefs. In addition, the school district wants religion in the curriculum, mandating two classes: “The Bible in History and Literature” and “Critic of Darwinism, a scientific approach”.

The proposal, “Religious Liberty at Spencer Community Schools”, if adopted, paves a road to school-sponsored evangelizing. While it is possible the officials may have good intentions, the actual proposal is a blatant endorsement of Christian beliefs. If school sanctioned prayer and the allowance for distribution of religious materials on school grounds is not enough evidence for religious bias, than mandating two classes, Bible Study and a pseudo-science class challenging evolution, simply fails to pass the smell test. Add to that list “the employee expression of personal religious beliefs” (e.g. How Mr. Brown the Phys. Ed. teacher “got Jesus”) and the proposal becomes a first amendment land mine. Why would any public school policy encourage teachers sharing their religious beliefs with students?

The obvious answer is because they’re trying to promote Christianity as the dominate religion. This is a blatant violation of the Establishment clause and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s challenged in court before it even goes into effect. The only real question will be how much money will be wasted before they give up on this stupid plan.

We’re home from Iowa no worse for wear.

This is just a quick note to let folks know we survived the trip. Expect an update that goes into details of the trip including some pics later once I get a moment to catch my breath. Work is busy today because we had a power outage on Monday that took a good chunk of the workstations down so most of my morning has been occupied dealing with the fallout from that.

For the moment I’ll just say that 8 hour drives are made much easier when you have a good GPS navigation system easing any worries about getting lost. The Garmin Nuvi 360 performed flawlessly and managed to find decent detours whenever we ran into road construction related backups. Our hosts drove us around all weekend so it didn’t get much use in Iowa itself, but it got us there and home again without incident.

Alas the trip wasn’t without some minor tragedy as, after getting through the whole weekend just fine, I managed to drop my newly repaired Canon Powershot A80 in the parking lot of our apartment complex re-denting the casing on the bottom corner and causing a decorative plastic ring around the lense to pop off. The camera still works fine, but I’m mighty unhappy with myself. I’ll also need to find some plastics appropriate glue to put the ring back on. It’s purely cosmetic, but I’d still like the camera to look halfway decent when I point it at people.

That’s it for now. Haven’t had a chance to see how well the pictures turned out, but will check that this afternoon when I get home.

Look out Iowa. This bastard is headed your way.

Momentarily Anne and I will be setting out on a road trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a long holiday weekend visit with her best friend from college. I’ve been married to Anne for 8 years and we’ve been a couple for a decade now and I’ve yet to meet her BF because, well, she and her husband are in Iowa. Anne decided it was time we corrected that and started planning this trip awhile back. This trip is what got me my new Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS so I can’t complain. I’ll be taking both my newly refurbished Canon digital camera as well as the RCA Small Wonder camcorder to see if there’s anything interesting to document on the highways and byways as we make the eight hour drive. I’ll have my laptop with me so I should be able to check in on email and the blog over the weekend assuming there’s a wireless hotspot within range of where I am.

It’s been awhile since I’ve driven a long distance like this, last time was in my late twenties, so it should be interesting to see how well I hold up.

Fred Thompson wastes no time in saying something stunningly stupid.

I wasn’t expecting much from newly announced GOP Presidential contender Fred Thompson given his very conservative statements before he ever entered the race, but I assumed he’d at least get a week in before saying something stupid. I was wrong.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Freshly minted GOP White House hopeful Fred Thompson puzzled Iowans yesterday by insisting an Al Qaeda smoking ban was one reason freedom-loving Iraqis bolted to the U.S. side.

“They said, ‘You gotta quit smoking,’” Thompson explained to a questioner asking about progress in Iraq during a town hall-style meeting.

Thompson said the smoking ban and terror tactics Al Qaeda used to oppress women and intimidate local leaders pushed tribes in western Anbar Province to support U.S. troops.

But Thompson’s tale of a smokers’ revolt baffled some in the audience of about 150 who came to decide whether the former Tennessee senator is ready for prime time.

“I don’t know what that was about,” said Jim Moran, 72, who had driven from nearby McCook Lake, S.D.

The Iraqis in Anbar Province switched sides because of a smoking ban? Um, OK, Fred. If you say so. Personally, I think it probably had more to do with those terror tactics you mentioned, but if you wanna say it was a smoking ban then, well, you’re entitled to look like a total idiot if you really want to.

Maybe There Is A God After All…

Can it be? Is it really true? Yes, it appears that it is. An Iowa judge has allowed gays to marry in that state:

DES MOINES, Iowa – A county judge struck down Iowa’s decade-old gay marriage ban as unconstitutional Thursday and ordered local officials to process marriage licenses for six gay couples.

Gay couples from anywhere in Iowa could apply for a marriage license from Polk County under Judge Robert Hanson’s ruling.

Less than two hours after word of the ruling was publicized, two Des Moines men applied for a license, the first time the county had accepted a same-sex application. The approval process takes three days.

This is huge news, folks. Iowa is a red, culturally conservative state. If gay marriage has been recognized in Iowa, then hopefully it will be realized elsewhere in the country, including my home state of Kansas. I applaud Judge Hanson’s decision and his courage in undertaking it. I can only imagine that the Christian Right will be up in arms, with its more unhinged elements undoubtedly making claims on the judge’s life. I admire that he nonetheless capable and willing to do the right thing.