Add to this the fact that this town is an independent city -- not part of a larger county -- and you can imagine how small and poor the school system was. The story I heard growing up is that the factory owners, who were also the city politicians, intentionally maintained low standards and poor funds to the school system. The idea was that if a student was not educated, they would be more likely to work for the factory themselves after finishing school -- if not even earlier, after dropping out.
They were breeding ignorance for their own advantage.
This was every bit as cruel as it sounds, but many religious powers in the world continue to do the exact same thing. The Creationism / Creation Science / Intelligent Design / Whatever-it-will-be-called-next movement has been trying to paint evolution as a controversial "just-a-theory" for decades. They want warning stickers placed on textbooks, creationist malarky to be given equal treatment, and have even gone so far as to glue textbook pages together to hide offending material.
But these religious zombie masters go even further than just stripping people of their educational potential. They are actively pumping their sheep full of misinformation. I discussed the Creation Museum disaster yesterday, but it certainly doesn't end there. We've all heard about Conservapedia, too. We've also heard about the child abuse recorded in the documentary Jesus Camp, whose own website proudly makes it sound like a bile-inducing horror film:
Jesus Camp follows a group of young children to Pastor Becky Fisher's "Kids on Fire Summer Camp," where kids are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in God's army and are schooled in how to take back America for Christ. The film is a first-ever look into an intense training ground that recruits born-again Christian children to become an active part of America's political future.
"army" ... "training ground" ... "recruits" ... In other words, it's the Christian version of a radical Madrasah school!
There are a couple of YouTube videos that were referenced on Dawkins' site earlier today that really horrified me. The level of ignorance these videos are trying to spread makes my head spin.
The first one really drives home an opinion I've long had -- Creationists just don't understand long periods of time. This guy thinks that a jar of peanut butter will -- according to his straw-man version of evolution -- occassionally spawn new life? Let's ignore the fact that the chemical composition of peanut butter is far different than the chemical environment of early earth. He is saying the equivalent of, just because none of the lottery tickets I've bought ever won anything, winning lottery tickets must not exist. How many times do you buy peanut butter in your lifetime? 100 times? 200 times? How does that possibly compare to a billion billion billion molecules interacting with each other every second for a billion years?
The second one is labelled "The atheist's nightmare" and that's true. Except the banana isn't the nightmare, it's the guy holding it that scares me. I'd like to hear what this guy has to say about brazil nuts. Or coconuts. Or pineapples.