Subscribe to RSS - Tennessee

Profiting The Prophet?: Tenn. Legislators Fear Voucher Bill Will Subsidize Islamic Schools

Yesterday Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam abruptly pulled a private school voucher bill after some legislators refused to give him assurances that they would not try to alter the bill in ways Haslam does not support.

This is a good thing. Vouchers are a bad idea that distract from meaningful education reform.

But other voucher proposals are still pending in the legislature, so the issue is not dead in Tennessee.

Petition Interdiction: Tenn. Legislator Seeks To Make It A Crime To Protest Church-State Violations

Whenever I hear someone talking about the alleged shift in American politics that is supposedly turning the country away from far-right politics, I have to pause, collect myself and say politely, “We’re not quite there yet.”

If you don’t believe me, take a look at what’s going in some of the states.

It’s estimated that 24 state legislatures have been strongly influenced by an unholy partnership of Religious Right groups and Tea Party activists. Some awfully strange legislation is surfacing in those states.

Paying For Prejudice: Georgia Tax-Credit Program Subsidizes Anti-Gay Bias

Vouchers and tuition tax credits, we’re told by those who favor them, will promote “school choice.”

This is true, in a sense. But here’s the harsh reality: It’s the private school that gets the choice, not the parents.

Voucher Vortex: Tenn. Officials Being Sucked Into Controversy Over Private School Aid

Some Tennessee legislators are big on vouchers, and they prodded Gov. Bill Haslam to establish a nine-member task force to study tax subsidies for religious and other private schools. Unfortunately, its members have promptly blundered into a minefield.

Details can be messy things. The task force wrangled over questions such as accountability, how to ensure that students in voucher schools are getting a good education and how much vouchers should be worth.

Fearmongers Rebuked: McCain Upbraids House Members’ Islamic Conspiracy Charges

Bust out the burqa! Stash your safety razor! Islamic law is just around the corner.

So says the latest far-right conspiracy theory that’s making the rounds. Word is that a band of Islamic zealots has somehow infiltrated the upper echelons of the federal government – no doubt aided and abetted by the secret Muslim in the White House – and will be imposing shariah law just about any day now.

Monkeying Around: Tenn. Governor Refuses To Confront Unconstitutional Creationism Bill

Recently a bill reached the desk of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam that would encourage public school teachers to discuss the alleged “controversy” over evolution and offer them legal protection if they teach creationist concepts.

Haslam indicated that he opposed the so-called “monkey bill,” but he refused to veto it. Instead, he allowed it to become law without his signature.

Memphis Blues: Church’s Intervention In Politics Should Spark IRS Action

The city of Memphis, Tenn., is in the middle of a municipal election, and a large Baptist church has decided to let everyone know who the true “pro-family” candidates are. Isn’t that special?

Actually, it’s illegal.

The leadership of Bellevue Baptist in Cordova, Tenn., may think they’re being clever. The church doesn’t come right out and post its favored candidates on its website. Instead, the church links to another website that lists three candidates deemed worthy of support.

Tennessee Intolerance: Legislators Propose Jailing Followers Of Islamic Law

In November, voters in Oklahoma approved a misguided state constitutional amendment designed to ban Islamic law – known as Shariah – in the state,

The fact that there was no effort to impose Shariah law in Oklahoma and that even if there were the First Amendment would prevent it did not sway Sooner State voters; 70 percent of them were apparently concerned about a coming wave of mandatory burqa wearing and backed the measure at the polls.

Kern Spurned: Oklahoma Legislator’s Backdoor Creationism Bill Bounced

Oklahoma is one of the most religiously conservative states in the country. Fundamentalists have a strong political presence there, and “culture war” battles are common. This is the state, you’ll recall, that recently tried to ban Sharia law – even though no Muslims are attempting to impose it there.

It’s always a pleasant surprise, then, when Oklahoma legislators resist Religious Right pressure and do the right thing. And yesterday they did.

Pages