First up from the God Machine this week is a burgeoning fight in Arizona over a culture-war fight that should've disappeared many years ago.
A team of nearly three dozen Arizona educators worked on new science standards for the state -- the first update in almost 15 years -- which were presented to the Arizona Board of Education. But when their draft was released in March, the teachers were not pleased to see the words "evolution" and "evolve" crossed out.
KVOA, the NBC affiliate in Tucson, reported on the state official who was apparently responsible.
School Superintendent Diane Douglas is apparently behind a rewrite of science standards for all Arizona school children that would delete references to evolution.Audio obtained by 12 News shows Douglas believes a version of creationism, called "intelligent design," should be taught in tandem with evolution.The proposed science standards could leave it up to teachers to decide which one students should learn.
The report noted an event in the fall in which the Republican state school superintendent said she "absolutely" supports public schools teaching a form of creationism "along with the theory of evolution." According to the recording obtained KVOA, Douglas added at the time, "I had a discussion with my staff, because we're currently working on science standards, to make sure this issue was addressed in the standards we're working on."
The state Board of Education will reportedly vote on the proposed science standards next month. Local officials should probably realize that related efforts in other states have always been tested in the courts -- and have always been defeated.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Striking new research from the Pew Research Center: "No group agrees less with the idea that the United States has a responsibility to accept refugees than white evangelical Protestants. Only 25 percent of evangelicals told Pew that they believed the United States has such a responsibility, half the percentage of Catholics who said the same thing and substantially lower than the religiously unaffiliated. In statistical terms, the percentage of evangelicals holding that view was about equal to the percentage of Republicans, 26 percent, given margins of error."
* It'd be nice if the pope endorsed the sentiment publicly: "A Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse has said that Pope Francis told him in a private meeting this month that God had made him gay and that both God and the pontiff loved him that way, a remarkable expression of inclusion for the leader of the Roman Catholic Church."
* The Southern Baptists make a bold move: "Prominent Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson has been removed from his job as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary amid an evangelical #MeToo moment: a massive backlash from women upset over comments he made in the past that are newly perceived as sexist and demeaning."