If one were to set out to find the perfect example of religious intolerance on the part of someone who espouses the principles of religious freedom the place to go would be Louisiana Legislative House District 64.
If you thought when David Duke faded into political obscurity, Louisiana had finally rid itself of the international embarrassment of bigotry and religious intolerance, then you sadly underestimated the buffoonery of one Valerie Hodges.
Valerie Hodges is a first-term Republican state representative from Denham Springs. Her biography on the legislature’s web page lists her occupation as an accountant, as vice president of Straightway Ministries in Baton Rouge and co-pastor of Destiny International in Denham Springs.
When Rep. Hodges voted for House Bill 976 which was subsequently signed into law as ACT 2 by Gov. Piyush Jindal, she envisioned widespread approval of vouchers for schools like Faith Academy in Gonzales (approved for 80 vouchers); BeauVer Christian School in DeRidder, the school that was unable to correctly spell “scholarship” on its sign (119 vouchers); Dreamkeepers Academy (4) and Evangel Christian Academy (80) in Caddo Parish; Eternity Christian Academy of Westlake, the school that teaches the existence of the Loch Ness monster as a means of disproving evolution (135 vouchers), Old Bethel Christian Academy in Caldwell Parish (59), Angels Academy (106), Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy (28), Hosanna Christian Academy (200), Jehovah-Jireh Christian Academy (30), Riverdale Christian Academy (30) and Trinity Christian Academy (25) of East Baton Rouge Parish; Gethsemane Christian Academy (8) and Lafayette Christian Academy (4) of Lafayette Parish; New Living Word School (315) the school with no classrooms, no teachers and no books, of Ruston; Holy Ghost Academy (29), Life of Christ Christian Academy (91), Light City Christian Academy (117) and The Upperroom Bible Church Academy (167) of Orleans Parish; Family Community Christian School in Franklin Parish (54); Claiborne Christian School (28), Northeast Baptist School (40) and Prevailing Faith Christian Academy (26) of Ouachita Parish; Cenla Christian Academy (72) of Rapides Parish; Boutte Christian Academy (85) in St. Charles Parish; Family Worship Christian Academy (66) of St. Landry Parish; Northlake Christian Elementary School (20) and Northside Christian High School (30) and The Upperroom Bible Church Preschool and Academy (3) of St. Tammany Parish; Lighthouse Christian High School (18) of Vermilion Parish; Faith Christian Academy (38), Heritage Academy (10), Victory Christian Academy (8), and Islamic School of Greater New Orleans (38) of Jefferson Parish.
Islamic School of Grea…sputter, sputter…Islamic?
Hodges, joined by Rep. Kenny Havard (R-Jackson) was quick to disavow Jindal’s voucher program if Islamic schools were to be eligible for taxpayer-funded vouchers.
It’s perfectly okay to shell out money to religious schools to teach that Nessie is real—a modern-day dinosaur that proves that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that evolution is a lot of hooey. But don’t even talk about some missing link.
Religious, after all, means Christian, right?
“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” Hodges huffed. “I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school.”
Snake chunkers okay, Islamics not so okay.
But wait. Did she really say the Founding Fathers’ religion was Christianity?
Yes she did. But while she may take at face value the teaching that mother earth is only 6,000 years old, it seems her American history is no better than her ancient history.
The Founding Fathers were, for the most part, Deists, not Christians.
For the benefit of Rep. Hodges, Deism teaches that the universe was indeed created by God but that He assumes no control over life, exerts no influence on natural events and provides no divine revelation. In short, He left us to our own devices to work things out as best we can.
Also for Rep. Hodges’s erudition, the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”
It is those few words that prohibit the establishment of a state church-words on which the principle of separation of church and state is based.
No mention of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Hare Krishnas, Moonies, Dianetics, Scientology, or any other specific religion. Just that there shall be no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion—whatever that religion may be.
Rep. Hodges apparently subscribes to the Animal Farm political philosophy (with apologies to George Orwell) that all religions are created equal but some religions are more equal than others.
As evidence of Rep. Hodges’s narrow view of religion as a Bible wrapped in a flag affixed to a bayonet, we have this quote from her: “We need to insure that it (the voucher plan) 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.”
Wow. A thousand? Really?
We were unable to substantiate quite that many. We did, however, find that one little school in Kenner: the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans that put in its application for 38 vouchers.
But you know what? Its application was withdrawn before HB 976 was even passed.
We’re still looking for the remaining 999.
Whoa! Wait a minute here. Did you notice that 999 is 666 upside down?
But please don’t tell Rep. Hodges.