Saturday, November 22, 2008

Will the GOP Evolve?

There is a battle being waged in Texas and within the GOP party.
The outcome of that battle will determine if they go forward toward the liberating cultural complexities and scientific advances of the 21st century. Or, if they will continue their backwards fall into the embrace of the suffocating superstitions of religious fundamentalism.

Case in point.

"State education panel hears evolution debate." (Dallas Morning News) "Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution grabbed center stage Wednesday as State Board of Education members heard from dozens of Texans trying to influence the panel on how evolution should be covered in science classes of the future.

"College professors, science teachers and pro-evolution groups urged the board to drop a rule that requires the strengths and weaknesses of Darwin's theory to be taught in science courses, while conservative groups aligned with a sizable bloc of board members said the rule has worked well and hasn't forced religion into those classes as critics charge.

Of course, conservatives aren't fooling anyone. Their religious wolf under the cloak of "educational freedom" is trying to ambush impressionable hearts and minds.

The first vote on the issue by the state education board will be in January. At stake are the science guidelines for elementary and secondary schools and the materials used for state tests and textbooks. The guidelines would remain in place for a decade after their approval by the state board.

The state's most famous Texan, George "Is Our Children Learning?" Bush, has already weighed in on the debate. In 2005 he famously told reporters that he believes that intelligent design.... creationism repackaged.... should be taught alongside evolution as competing theories. (WaPo)

The report on Bush's remarks explains that "Much of the scientific establishment says that intelligent design is not a tested scientific theory but a cleverly marketed effort to introduce religious -- especially Christian -- thinking to students.

".... Bush's remarks heartened conservatives who have been asking school boards and legislatures to teach students that there are gaps in evolutionary theory and explain that life's complexity is evidence of a guiding hand."

It isn't just the Texas education system at the crossroads, an increasingly marginalized GOP is trying to read the what-went-wrong tea leaves after their defeat in the last election.

As Kathleen Parker said in her recent editorial, "Giving Up on God," (WaPo)..... "the evangelical, right-wing, oogedly-boogedly branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue" to do so unless the GOP faces "the gorilla".... perhaps that should be monkey.... "in the room."

Parker diagnosis is, "Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party."

Texas, don't let it kill your educational excellence too.

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