Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Craig County School Board saga continues...

If you recall, there is some scrimmage going on over in Virginia. The Craig County School Board is considering a Bible class. Yep... a course in the public school focusing on the Good Book.

So... I sent the school board that nice little note requesting that they also teach a course on The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I noted that I would understand if the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster needed to share time with The Bible. At least that way the children could be exposed to the good news of Beer Volcanoes and Stripper Factories, while hearing boring stories of resurrection and capital punishment.

Here is the response I received:

I regret to inform you that you have been misled, as evidenced by your message below. Mr. Gordon is "Interim Superintendent", not "Superintendent".

Aside from that, I wish to express my deep appreciation for your input in the matter of teaching a course on the Bible. I consider myself to be open-minded and endeavor to be fair in all my pursuits, but most especially in serving as a member of the Craig County School Board. I must profess, however, that I have been completely ignorant of the Pastafarian religion. Suddenly many things begin to make sense-- I have often noted that some of my friends seemed to worship pasta. Perhaps they felt inhibited from expressing the true roots of their devotion, since so many practitioners of other faiths tend to be more vocal. In particular, I often am beseiged by members of the Chocolatalians, who believe there is nothing more omnipotent, more able to show the One True Path than the great Cocoa Puff in the sky.

My own religious beliefs are not at issue here. Rather, it is whether any curriculum funded by the taxpayer adheres to constitutional mandates, whether the school system has the resources to provide for the course to be taught, whether the curriculum adequately supports the mission of the school (praise to thee, oh SOLs), whether sufficient students choose to attend and make it cost-effective, and whether acceptance of one such program opens the door to many others. This latter prospect has the potential not only to strain resources, but to engender competitiveness between proponents of various courses for scarce resources and student attention. I also hope that proponents are comfortable that equal time and funding may be allocated to perspectives at odds with their own.

Courses in religious literature and comparative religion are of great value in any educational setting. These have a profound impact on our world, past-present-future. But they must be inclusive, unbiased, and factual. Although I would like to give the Pastafarians a fair opportunity to present their case, I find it hard to believe that there will not be some inherent bias, even within the community of pasta worshippers, by lasagne advocates against mere spaghetti believers. Until I have a chance to review any proposed curriculum in detail and have it vetted by the School Board Attorney, the ACLU, and Mama Mia herself, I will have to respectfully abstain from supporting the implementation of the course you are requesting.

Meanwhile, I believe you can accomplish your goals quite sufficiently via extracurricular activities, to which I hope I will be invited to attend. I will have to beg forgiveness if I accidently eat your God, as I am a die-hard spaghetti fan and usually evidence my pasta worship by devouring the subject.

Please let me know if I may provide any additional information regarding this matter.

Best wishes,

Dawna Clephas McDowell
Vice Chair,
Craig County School Board
I took this response to be supportive. Therefore, I responded with this letter:

Ms. McDowell,

I am so glad to hear that a member of the Craig County School Board understands the importance of the inclusion of all religions, especially a discussion of the worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If religion is going to be placed in the high school curriculum, it becomes vital that the message of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is represented.

I must concede that the pesky little document we refer to as "The Constitution" offers plenty of support to those who would request that we keep our personal religions out of the backpacks of public school students, or only present them as a course in comparative religions.

However, as long as we are going to push for a specific religious text to be given special attention in a public school, I believe it is vital we look at The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If we expose children to the text of a random religion (based purely on the majority's whim), without giving them exposure to the text of the Pastafarians, I believe that it is highly probable that they would assume that the initial religion was the one that the public schools supported, and this could greatly influence their belief system.

Therefore, we will be keeping close tabs on this issue as it progresses.

Thank you for your support on this issue.
May the Flying Spaghetti Monster look down with grace upon you.

In solidarity,

-Amber Culbertson-Faegre

P.S. Eating pasta is one of the methods of worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so you are perfectly fine in enjoying Spaghetti. It is our sacrament, and his way of supporting us in our daily lives. =D
We have to stay strong. Get the Flying Spaghetti Monster back in the public school classrooms where He belongs.

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