Louisiana state Rep. Valarie Hodges is doubling down on her statement that Muslim schools should not get funding from a state voucher program that provides taxpayer dollars for religious schools.
Last week, Hodges was shocked to learn that the voucher program she supported would allow students to take their state-funded vouchers to religious schools that were not Christian. Hodges thought that religious meant Christian because that was the religion of the Founding Fathers. She did not explain how her belief that the Founders were Christian related to the fact that many were deists, like Thomas Jefferson, or even agnostics, like Thomas Payne.
Hodges’ initial statement:
“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.
“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges said.
“Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges told the News. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”
Now she is contending that her comments were misunderstood.
A lot has been made out of a misquote taken about a statement I made sharing concerns about taxpayer vouchers. What I actually said was: “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund RADICAL ISLAMIC SCHOOLS”
Like many Americans, regardless of faith, I have grave concerns about sending taxpayer funded vouchers to institutions that could teach radical Islam – like Sharia law, for example, that disparages America and Israel as the “great Satan” and seeks our destruction as a nation.
This extremist form of Islamic fundamentalism promotes beheadings, mutilation and abuse of women and is not a “religious school,” but more of a political movement.
More than anything though, I’m surprised at the very intolerant behavior and threats I’ve received from self-proclaimed activists of the political left.
I’m still looking for the misquote that Hodges claims. While it is true that Hodges initially said that she does not support funding for “radical Islamic schools, she also said, “I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”
That is not just radical Madrassas. That means public funds for any Muslim school. This law might already be standing on unconstitutional ground by having taxpayer dollars go to religious schools. By excluding religions except for Christianity, the voucher plan step forward as a flagrant violation of the Constitution. Hodges seems to have a problem understanding that.
It is also interesting that beheadings, mutilations and the abuse of women somehow relates to a political movement. According to Hodges, the torture and abuses by the Catholic Church of the medieval ages, such as during the Inquisition, must have been political, not religious.
Actually, Hodges is partially right because everything is political, as George Orwell once said. The same political connection that Hodges alleges for Islam can be found within fundamentalist Christian organizations as well. These groups pursue “political” agendas against abortion and same-sex marriage. More liberal Christian groups also support “political agendas” for pacifism and same-sex marriage. Then there are some like the Westboro Baptist Church that holds political protests at funerals or sites of public disasters. Is Hodges suggesting these are not political?
Far more disconcerting about the Louisiana voucher plan than funding Muslim schools is that the plan takes public funds and lets private and religious schools develop their own curriculum. That includes curriculum like that of the Eternity Christian Academy which replaces evolution with “science text that explains ‘what God made’ on each of the six days of creation.” This legislation allows any science or factually based curriculum that does not match with the interpretation of fundamentalist Christian and Muslim organizations not to be taught.
That is the real problem with this plan, not some knee-jerk reaction that public funds are going to be spent on teaching Islam and eventually will lead to mutilations and beheadings in Louisiana or whatever Hodges is fearing.