Kansas Education Board Member: “It’s Not Exactly a Separation of Church and State Unless Somebody Makes a Big Fuss”

Teachers.tv, a British TV channel for the teaching profession, has just broadcast the first episode of Education USA, a British documentary series on schools in America. The programme can be viewed at the station’s website here.

One section deals with the controversy over religion and evolution (from 15:30 on), and there is an interview with Kathy Martin (at 18:10), of the Kansas Board of Education. As ever, Martin presents Intelligent Design as a scientific theory being suppressed:

They were trying to limit any kind of discussion which didn’t completely endorse evolution. I thought that was a real red flag. Scientific discoveries are made because people have different ideas…We certainly need to include all scientific data whether it supports or refutes a certain philosophy or a certain theory.

However, the presenter, Peter Curran, notes that Martin has an “unconventional view” of what scientific data is, and that she had attempted to introduce a new definition of science which would include supernatural causation (I blogged on this here). Martin was quite open about the religious basis for her campaign:

Well, you know, our national motto is “In God we trust”. It’s on all of our coins, and our money. So, you know, it’s not exactly a separation of church and state unless somebody makes a big fuss about it or something.

Martin takes Curran to see some of her colleagues, who boast about how they get around restrictions on religion in American classrooms (20:00):

We’ve ways of getting around it. We could get around it by saying, “My opinion is…” So we can get around it by making sure the kids understand this is our personal opinion, not something which we teach as authority figures.

Preceding the Martin segment there’s an encounter (at 16:00) with Pastor Wilbur Schoneweis of Emmanuel Independent Baptist Church. Schoneweis, who enjoys the use of glasses and a hearing-aid, rails against science:

Secularism has come into education. It’s removed the public education system from that philosophy that the Bible has the answers, and it has developed the idea that man has the answers, science has the answers, and to me that’s chaos, let’s go back to the Scriptures.

Schoneweis claims, predictably, that evolutionary theory leads to homosexuality, abortion, and “New Age worship of the earth”, while the Bible supports “family values, value of human life”, etc.

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