Evolution in Sedalia, Missouri appears to be moving in reverse. The band leaders of the Smith-Cotton High School Tiger Pride Marching Band thought that they had a cute idea in showing the images of monkeys evolving into band members under the words “Brass Evolutions 2009.” Parents and teachers objected that evolution (a scientific theory) was advancing a “religious” viewpoint. Amazingly, the school agreed and ordered the t-shirts turned in by the students.
The Darwinistas who undermined the science-phobic parents were Assistant Band Director Brian Kloppenburg and Band Director Jordan Summers. They were probably laboring under the odd idea that the a scientific theory was a perfectly appropriate image for a school, particularly given the new programs based on “Brass Evolutions.”
When the band marched in the Missouri State Fair, the complaints began from parents who believe that evolution is a myth and contradicts the teachings of the Bible.
Yielding to such extreme views, Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt ordered the t-shirts returned. It was a remarkably dim-witted decision that caved to religious objections on a matter of a scientific reference. It accomplished the very thing that these parents complained about: allowing religious values to shape a school decision.
Pollitt insisted that he had to take the action because the school was required to stay neutral on religious issues. However, evolution is not a barred religious doctrine or theory. Extremists want to make evolution into a religious question, but it is not. If the parents started to object to pictures of Freud from an anti-psychiatry view of Scientology, would Pollitt order their removal? How about if Evangelical Christians object (as they did in Texas) to pictures showing the Moon as illuminated by reflective light, would he take down the posters? How about pictures showing the Earth aging more than 6000 years, another fact disputed recently by religious politicians and parents (here).
Pollitt insists that “If the shirts had said ‘Brass Resurrections’ and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing.” Well, the problem is that Darwin was a scientist and Jesus is a religious figure.
Nevertheless, District teacher and Band parent Sherry Melby was one of those objecting and stated “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.” Evolution should not be associated with her high school? The statement only demonstrates how Pollitt used a claim of neutrality on religious to enforce a religious belief. Melby may want her children to be scientifically illiterate, but public education requires students to be educated on scientific facts. If Melby and others want their children to be sequestered from science, they can go to any number of religious schools that teach only creationism.
Notably, the school song proclaims:
“Majestic structure, thing of beauty, in a class you stand alone. You don’t know just how we love you, for you’re made of stone.
You’re a monument to learning, and our hearts swell up with pride. As we stand and look you over, end to end and side to side.
May you send forth men and maidens worthy of the highest fame. Filled with knowledge and ambition, making for themselves a name.
May we ever do you honor, As we each go on our way. While all happy memories linger, till the closing of our day.”
Well, it turns out that many parents want to “send forth men and maidens” “filled with knowledge’ with the exception of a few details like evolution. Not exactly a “monument to learning” for all of those “maidens.”
In the meantime, someone needs to look at how teachers in this town evolve into positions of authority when they are clearly uninformed on the law and policy governing neutrality on religious questions. The comparison of a picture of evolution to a picture of Jesus shows either a lack of understanding or a hidden bias. Either way, the decision is wrong and has the Smith-Cotton High School Tiger Pride Band marching to a creationist tune.
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