The Problems with School Vouchers

Handwriting letter with pen

Betsy DeVos is the new head of the U.S. Department of Education. Betsy is a Christian fundamentalist who loves the idea of school vouchers. Last night I learned that a legislative committee within the rabidly red Tennessee General Assembly (our state legislature) was going to vote today on a bill to implement an experimental school voucher program in Memphis, Tennessee.  School vouchers are a really bad idea for a number of really good reasons. Therefore, I felt compelled to fire off a written message to every member of the committee, urging them to vote against sending this bill to the legislative floor for a general vote. Apparently, many other people wrote letters too. The committee members voted to table the bill for no further action until sometime in 2018.  This means it is temporarily dead and might not be taken up again at all. 

The slightly edited text of my message is shown below for your reading pleasure.  If any of you fine readers are struggling with Trumpites and DeVosites pushing for a school voucher program in your state, please feel free to use my message below as a model to write an e-mail message or letter to your state representatives and state senators. You hereby have my written permission to use verbatim any part or all of the text in my message.  Here is the message:

Good morning.  I am a non-party-affiliated, Independent voter who actually votes. I have lived in Tennessee all of my life and have matriculated through Tennessee public schools. In addition, I have undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Although I have a son who attends a public school, I am not affiliated with any public school system in Tennessee, any teacher’s union, or any anti-voucher organization.  So, this is an honest letter from a real and independent Tennessee citizen.  I am writing this message to express to all of you my firm and strong opposition to an education voucher program in Tennessee.

Here are my reasons for opposition to a voucher program for K-12 students in Tennessee:

(1)  I do not think a voucher program will lead to better education for poor and minority students in Tennessee. The key problem with such students who cannot learn to proficiency is not bad schools or bad teachers. It is their turbulent home lives; neighborhood violence and gangs; and broken homes filled with drug abuse, violence, and absent fathers.  If they attend private schools with vouchers and go straight back to these troubled homes every afternoon, private schools will do no better than the public schools. Hardly anyone could get a decent education with a home and neighborhood environment like that. Vouchers will not work because they do not address the real problem—a bad home life and a bad neighborhood life that destroy both the mind and the soul.  The answer is not school vouchers. The answer is to put funding into improving the home lives and neighborhoods of these at-risk children we all love.

(2)  Vouchers will siphon large amounts of money away from the Tennessee public schools that do work well and increase property taxes for ordinary citizens in our Tennessee cities and counties to make up the shortfall. This will endanger public education as a whole in Tennessee.

(3)  I am a Christian and a member of The United Methodist Church.  However, I was once a member of a large and very conservative Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) church here in Tennessee.  Because I know American history well, I can tell you with absolute confidence that the strongest proponent for the principle of “separation of religion and state” throughout American history has been the Baptist churches all over Tennessee and the United States. Roger Williams, the founding American Baptist of the 1600s, was the father of this basic American principle, which was passed down from one generation to the next for 400 years in our Baptist churches. I believe in this principle, as do most American attorneys and most of the American people. Based on the constitutional separation of religion and state, I do not want my Tennessee tax dollars funneled into the purses of church schools, especially those church schools that teach their children theology and beliefs that disagree with my own Christian beliefs. No Tennessee citizen should be forced to subsidize with tax dollars the teaching of religious beliefs he does not agree with. It is simply a wrong-minded thing to do, and it will ultimately entangle government and religious schools in unhealthy ways that were never intended by our American founding fathers.  A voucher system will funnel my tax dollars directly into those private church schools.  This is just wrong.

(4)  I am a white Tennessean who is opposed to racism in all its forms.  I have lived with this racism all of my life in Tennessee, and I still see it everywhere. In my opinion, Tennessee racists, who mostly vote Republican, would love to see a voucher program for African-American students in Tennessee.  Why?  They believe African-American students cannot learn because they have a “nigger-streak” in them.  They see vouchers for private schools as the key to “deniggerizing” students.  If they can just find a way to get a black kid into a private school and the private school teachers can find a way to flush the jungle savage out of a black kid, then he will be able to learn and contribute positively to American society and culture—and not steal or kill white people.  Sorry to say, this same repugnant and addle-brained notion was already tried in the Federal American Indian Schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. History shows that it failed miserably and destroyed the lives of American Indian children and their families. It tore strong families apart.  This is a matter of public record in American history.  It is the very worst reason for a voucher program in Tennessee, but I fear it is the reason many white Tennesseans desperately want a voucher program.  African-American children cannot and will not thrive in American life by stripping away their African-American heritage and subculture.  This is doing violence to the minds of children. I beseech you—do not cooperate with the racists who want you to do this with school vouchers. This is a wrong-minded reason for school vouchers.

(5) It is a well-known fact—not a conspiracy theory—that many Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals hate American public schools and want to destroy them forever.  All you have to do is go on-line and read their websites (e.g., LOOK HERE)  Some are even affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). At annual SBC meetings in Nashville, they have actually sponsored formal resolutions requesting all Southern Baptists to remove their children permanently from public schools. They falsely claim that Tennessee public schools teach “Godlessness” to our children. As a Christian, I can tell you this is false.  It is a lie. I was never taught Godlessness in any Tennessee public school—and neither were my children.

These millions of hair-brained religious zealots see school vouchers as the key to destroying Tennessee and American public schools. What is their plan? First, they want you legislators to approve school vouchers for all Tennessee school children.  This will then drain American public schools dry of funds and students, which is part of their plan. In parallel, Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches will begin a massive building program for church schools throughout Tennessee and the United States. As the public schools quickly die off, the American people will have no other choice but to send their children to these new Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical schools—because by then they will be the only schools still in existence.  Therefore, United Methodists like me, members of nonfundie Christian denominations (deemed to be “false Christians”), and most other Americans will then be forced to turn over our children to their schools for re-indoctrination into Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism—to “save America.” This is the long-term plan Tennessee legislators—and you are falling for it.  All you have to do is visit their websites and study how they operate.

(6)  If you implement school vouchers and these well-laid plans and prejudicial intents come to pass—and they will eventually—you are going to see a conscious exodus of thousands of people—out of Tennessee.  I will not allow my United Methodist children to be taught anything in an Assembly of God church school. I will get a high-paying professional job in another state, sell my land, and move out of Tennessee. Many thousands of other highly educated Tennesseans, including wealthy, highly talented people who have moved here from up North and out West, will do the same. Tax collections will drop, businesses will leave, the Tennessee economy will suffer, and jobs will be lost.  This is the real future of school vouchers in Tennessee.  Therefore, I implore you on my knees in sack cloth and ashes. Please DO NOT vote for a school voucher program here in Tennessee.

Thank you for your time and interest.

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Watch Vicky Beeching Deep-Six a Modern Fundie Pharisee

I had lived long and seen many things. One of those things was not Vicky Beeching.  Until just a few days ago, I had never heard of her.  This is probably because I do not waste my time listening to the mostly horrible-quality music played on local Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical radio stations here in the American South. It grates on my ears like banging together metal garbage can lids.  Give me a good, traditional, Jesus-honoring church hymn instead.

From an on-line friend, I learned that Vicky Beeching is a famous Christian musician who makes good quality music and lived 8 years doing it in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. I further learned that Ms. Vicky is a famous television and radio news personality and a famous Christian media personality around the world, a highly talented motivational speaker; and a highly gifted theologian trained at Oxford University and Durham University in the United Kingdom. In addition, I learned that in 2014 she emerged from the LGBTQ closet and announced she had been gay since age 13—and she still is.

As you might imagine, this public announcement gave Fundieland an instant widow-maker heart attack.  What was the gravity of it?  Well, from what I have read, it was as if Billy Graham had announced that he had been a practicing gay person since age 13—and Ruth condoned it.  Can you imagine that?  Fundieland was stricken with sudden paralytic shock that has still not worn off.  This seemed very interesting to me, so I have begun to study up on her life and career. Ms. Beeching has been  working on a Ph.D. in theology at Durham University, and she is using her worldwide fame, extensive theological education, and her powerful oral and written communication skills to advocate for gay Christians, who are now being discriminated against and persecuted by the fundies here in the United States.

I would like you to watch Vicky Beeching as she deep sixes a famous fundie pharisee in the short video below. If you want to know more about this pharisee, you may read about him HERE in an article published by Mother Jones. You can judge for yourself whether he is lying in the video about being the father of the death penalty (not now in effect) for being gay in Uganda and the other new draconian anti-gay laws that are in effect under the Ugandan legal system.  As you will see, this guy is a real “sweetheart.” In addition, I would like you to watch his body language as Ms. Vicky eats him alive. In my opinion, it screams:  “How dare you talk to a Christian man this way—submit woman.”  This is fun—give it a watch by clicking on the following safe link:

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A Super-Mighty Pre-Emptive Strike

Kim Jong Un

According to FOX News, North Korean state media threatened to launch a “super-mighty pre-emptive strike” that would reduce South Korea and the United States “to ashes.”

Wait!!!  This just in from FFCF News:

American barbers are threatening a Super-Super-Super-Mighty Pre-Emptive Strike on that stupid-looking black thing on top of Kim Jong-Un’s head.  Riley Pfelter, a local barber in Bug Tussle, Tennessee, had this to say:

Yep!!  Me and the boys have our scissors and clippers ready to go on a minute’s notice.  We gonna parachute down on that black rug by the thousands, clip and buzz it to pieces, and use rusty razors to eradicate the rest of it.  We figure it’s kinda like that old movie Night of the Living Dead.  You remember that rule of thumb they had.  We have our own: “Kill the mop and you kill the Un. To kill the Un, you kill the mop.”

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Stealing Jesus

End of the Law

When I cannot write a blog article for you, I always try to refer you to the best written items I can find among the works of other writers.  While surfing the Internet tonight, I ran into a real gem written more than 20 years ago.  The author is Bruce Bawer, and it is Chapter 1 in a book entitled Stealing Jesus: How Christian Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity.  This chapter is just as true, up-to-date, and insightful as it was when it was first written, and it plainly shows many of the key problems with Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism in the United States. I would classify this item as a must read.

The print is small, so you will need to engage the ZOOM feature on your computer to read it.  The easiest way to do that is to hold down the Control Key on your keyboard, keep it held down, and press the + Plus Key as many times as needed to bring the article into comfortable print size.  When you are finished, just press the Control Key again, keep it held down, and press the – Minus Key the same number of times that you did the + Plus Key.  That should get you back to where you started.

Please click on the following safe link to get to this wonderful book chapter:

Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity

Happy reading!!!!

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Nonfundie Christians: Why Do You Remain So Silent?

Speak Out

I have an important question today for all of my readers who are not Christian fundamentalists or conservative evangelicals. For the last 100 years and even today, why do you personally (and your nonfundie church) roll over, play dead, and remain silent in the face of the Bible-distorting, unChrist-like, outrageous, politics-pandering, and hateful Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical preachings and behaviors that we all see and hear about each day here in the United States.  Please read the following short article, which explains what I mean in depth and asks the same question.

Why Do You Remain Silent?

Afterwards, please write to the e-mail address shown below and explain to me in your own words why you remain silent. If you know, tell me why your nonfundie church and its head minister remains silent.

tcbkjbbrown@comcast.net

There is only one answer to this question that I will not accept because it is a copout:

I am just one little person and my voice is so small—so what difference could I make?”

If Jesus and his disciples had taken that attitude, the Christian faith would not even exist today.  This question is not a set-up for a beating.  I really would kindly and gently like to know what you have to say on this.

Note: This post is addressed specifically and only to people who are not Christian fundamentalists or conservative evangelicals.  Any unsolicited fundie response will be deleted without its being read.

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Here Is an Interesting and Positive Discussion

I enjoyed this discussion, and I think you will too.  Just click on the following safe link:

A Discussion on Religion and Politics: Where We have Gone Wrong

 

 

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American Family Association Creates Anti-Christian Bigotry Map

Klan on Stage

The American Family Association (AFA) is a Christian fundamentalist parachurch organization associated with the so-called Religious Right in the United States. This organization is famous for its vicious, foaming-at-the-mouth bigotry against American citizens who are LGBTQ. Their bigotry is so bad that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has officially designated the AFA as a hate group. The SPLC is one of the most famous and legitimate civil rights organizations in the United States—an organization widely known for its faithfulness and integrity in monitoring and fighting against the Ku Klux Klan, Skinheads, American Nazi Party, and other similar hate organizations. The AFA has spent time on the list with these other “charming organizations” for a number of years now and will no doubt continue to do so in the future. One famous creation of the SPLC is an interactive electronic map of the United States showing the names and locations of their designated hate groups. Got a Ku Klux Klan klavern in your city or county?  Go to the SPLC Hate Map and check it out.  Since its creation, this hate group map has really turned up the heat on the AFA, and it is scorching them too.  I read a lot of articles in periodicals, and I have been noticing that numerous articles mention the full name of the AFA and follow it with a parenthetical note about its hate group status.  It appears the heat in the kitchen is getting to them badly, so much so that they felt compelled to fight back by creating an AFA map showing the locations of organizations dealing in bigotry against Christian fundamentalists—as if anyone but fundies really cares (roll of the eyes).

You may read a new article about the AFA and its Anti-Christian Bigotry Map by clicking on the following safe link:

AFA Anti-Fundie Bigotry Map

However, before you do, look again at the title of their map. Here is that Christian fundamentalist code language issue cropping up again. The most appropriate and accurate map title should have been Anti-Christian Fundamentalist Bigotry Map.  But no.  They used the word “Christian” alone. Why would they do that?  Remember our previous discussions on fundie code language? Use of the word Christian alone is an element of fundie deceit that gives the false impression that all other American Christians and Christian denominations outside of Fundieville have somehow settled their differences with the fundies and united with them in support of this map.  Sure.  Regularly spit on the mainline Christians, call them apostate, tell them they are enemies of God and are going to Hell—but somehow they all united for this stupid AFA map. Want to buy some swamp land in Arizona?

Short of giving up its bigotry, I suspect the AFA would do just about anything to get itself removed from hate group status and the SPLC Hate Groups Map.  It is very bad public relations for the AFA on a national scale.

However, many nonfundie Christians like me, who are opposed to the LGBTQ bigotry of the AFA and the excesses of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism, feel differently about the AFA Anti-Christian Bigotry Map. Personally, I would consider it a high honor for this blog to be listed on their map because there is no shame in fighting for Jesus against a broad-spectrum fundie belief system widely known for purveyance of hatred, the lies it tells in the name of Jesus; its historically recent and corrupt beliefs; its distortion and misuse of the Holy Bible; its sellout of the church to evil Republican politics; its dereliction of a large portion of the gospel message, and its near abandonment of those Jesus particularly loved, identified with,  and called the “least of these.”  If that qualifies as bigotry, then the Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog says to the AFA:  “Sign us up for a location on your ridiculous new map.”

Note:  The author of this blog article is a devout Protestant Christian who has prayed the classic Sinner’s Prayer, meant every word of it, and has had a full-dunk baptism in a Christian fundamentalist church. He is a heterosexual family man who has been married to one female wife—only—across a span of 38 years.  In all of that time, he has never cheated on his wife with another woman. In addition, he has never had any homosexual or bisexual inclinations or urges. He and his wife have two very nice heterosexual children who are ages 15 and 23.  The author was born in the American South; grew up there in a highly conservative small town; and has lived Down South all of his life. He was raised in the old Methodist Episcopal Church South and was once a member of a large, highly conservative Southern Baptist Convention church. At this time, he is a long-time member of the United Methodist Church.

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