Betsy DeVos and God’s Plan for Schools

Dec 19, 2016

By Katherine Stewart

BOSTON — At the rightmost edge of the Christian conservative movement, there are those who dream of turning the United States into a Christian republic subject to “biblical laws.” In the unlikely figure of Donald J. Trump, they hope to have found their greatest champion yet. He wasn’t “our preferred candidate,” the Christian nationalist David Barton said in June, but he could be “God’s candidate.”

Consider the president-elect’s first move on public education. Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the nation, says that he was Mr. Trump’s first pick for secretary of education. Liberty University teaches creationism alongside evolution.

When Mr. Falwell declined, President-elect Trump offered the cabinet position to Betsy DeVos. In most news coverage, Ms. DeVos is depicted as a member of the Republican donor class and a leading advocate of school vouchers programs.

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12 comments on “Betsy DeVos and God’s Plan for Schools

  • …the president of Liberty University… says that he was Mr. Trump’s first pick for secretary of education…

    If true, that would easily top my “funniest and scariest” list…

    American academia and scientific community better become very vigilant and very vocal, very quickly.

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  • @OP – Consider the president-elect’s first move on public education. Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the nation, says that he was Mr. Trump’s first pick for secretary of education. Liberty University teaches creationism alongside evolution.

    I would suspect it teaches creationism while DENIGRATING EVOLUTION! (See the linked comment on preventing staff from teaching “Theistic Evolution”!


    The name is reminiscent of Orwellian doublethink (Ministry of Truth, Ministry of Love, et cetera), since Liberty University students do not have the liberty to attend dances, break curfew, watch “R” rated movies, view sexually explicit material, enter the bedroom of someone of the opposite sex, or otherwise exhibit behavior “associated with a counterculture.”[1] Students may not drink alcohol, or smoke tobacco, or organize petitions without permission, and are also subjected to random, mandatory drug tests. This restrictive code of conduct is aptly called the “Liberty Way“.[2] No joke intended. Academic posts are entirely non-tenured so the authorities can control staff as well.
    Falwell has said, “Where tenure is practiced, eventually theistic evolution is taught.”[3]
    The resulting facepalms could be heard for miles.

    Academia* ?????
    Liberty University offers a wide variety of academic programs and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC)[9] to award degrees through the Doctorate level. However, pseudoscience and pseudohistory are thoroughly integrated with legitimate courses of study. For example, a course called “
    History of Life” presenting Young Earth Creationism as fact is required for all undergraduate students.[10] The course is run by the university’s Center for Creation Studies[11] and purports to “draw from science, religion, history, and philosophy in presenting the evidence and arguments for creation and against evolution.”[12] The Center for Creation Studies appears to be a business front for pseudoscientist David DeWitt[13], whose **”History of Life Course ePack” is a required text for the course.[14]

    Randall Price, head of the university’s Center for Judaic Studies, has conducted several expeditions to Turkey to find remnants of Noah’s Ark.[15]

    In 2005 Liberty University opened a School of Aeronautics that claims to be “the largest faith-based aviation program in North America.”[16] It is now entirely possible that the person flying your commercial flight actually believes the Earth is 6,000 years old. Also LU offers an Osteopathic Medical school, startup grant provided by the Virginia Tobacco Commission,[17] so it is also possible for your doctor to believe the bible is a literal history book. Thankfully that is very unlikely as they are currently ranked 825th in the nation for a medical education[18] and 508th for research.[19] US NEws and World Reports ranks it #80 for the Southern region in 2014.[20] This doesn’t seem bad until you realize the list ends at 93.[21]

    It is often hard to find data on the university since it has traditionally been very secretive. However, according to some detailed data in Smartclass rankings it drastically underperforms the average in retention of students (69%), graduation rates (24%), and post graduation salary (bottom 10% of surveyed). Liberty University’s law school ranks among the worst ten in the USA with a quarter of its graduates unemployed.[22] Despite all this, Liberty University is very strict about acceptance (~20% of applying students) and students often rank average in standardized testing scores.


    The Pre-Trib Research Center,[23] based at Liberty University, “is a ‘think tank’ committed to the study, proclamation, teaching and defending of the Pretribulational Rapture (pre-70th week of Daniel) and related end-time prophecy.”[24] They offer most of their “research” papers online[25][26] and also sell some spiffy DVD sets[27] for completists.

    A large number of Liberty University graduates were hired by the George W. Bush administration, especially in the Department of Justice.[28]

    Political figures on both sides of the spectrum, including Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and Mike Pence, have spoken at Liberty’s “Convocation,” where students have to attend or they will face a $10 fine. In the crowd at Ted Cruz’s speech. you could also see some students wearing Rand Paul shirts.[29]

    Clown car rider Jeb Bush gave the 2015 commencement address at the university,[30] continuing a family tradition of pandering to evangelicals.

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  • I think this is the sort of model the theocrats have in mind!

    Franco regime

    In the early years of the Franco regime, church and state had a close and mutually beneficial association. The loyalty of the Roman Catholic Church to the Francoist state lent legitimacy to the dictatorship, which in turn restored and enhanced the church’s traditional privileges.[23]

    Franco’s political system was virtually the antithesis of the final government of the republican era—the Popular Front government. In contrast to the anticlericalism of the Popular Front, the Francoist regime established policies that were highly favorable to the Catholic Church, which was restored to its previous status as the official religion of Spain.
    In addition to receiving government subsidies, the church regained its dominant position in the education system, and laws conformed to Catholic dogma

    During the Franco years, Roman Catholicism was the only religion to have legal status; other worship services could not be advertised, and only the Roman Catholic Church could own property or publish books.
    The government not only paid priests’ salaries and subsidized the church, but it also assisted in the reconstruction of church buildings damaged by the war.
    Laws were passed abolishing divorce and banning the sale of contraceptives.
    Catholic religious instruction was mandatory, even in public schools

    In return, Franco secured the right to name Roman Catholic bishops in Spain, as well as veto power over appointments of clergy down to the parish priest level.

    Concordat of 1953

    In 1953 this close cooperation between the Catholic Church and the Franco regime was formalized in a new Concordat with the Vatican that granted the church specific privileges:

    mandatory canonical marriages for all Catholics;

    exemption from government taxation;

    subsidies for new building construction;

    censorship of materials the church deemed offensive;

    the right to establish universities;

    the right to operate radio stations,
    and to publish newspapers and magazines;

    protection from police intrusion into church properties; and

    exemption of clergy from military service.

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  • Cantaz #3
    Dec 20, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Looking at the comments on your link:-
    I thought this comment from an evolution denying troll who had written a massive string of comments illustrating his comical level of asserted ignorant scientific illiteracy and incredulity, beautifully summed up his state of indoctrination, which was disabling any ability to learn science, seek objective evidence, or reason!

    Michael Brown11 hours ago –
    Wendy Blue I will.
    Evolution took an assumed 4.3 billion years. I am afraid I would need a few million years to make sense of it,.

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  • I’d hazard a guess that the eventual outcome of this appointment will be a gush of money for faith based schools in specific areas (like the south…. like detroit….. like chicago….) But most of the areas that are “out of their reach” will continue as normal. The fallout will be a deepening chasm between the “knows” and the “know nothings”.

    The real question is does it really matter if idiots fall further into idiocy?

    As for Liberty, I have a former student who attends and is graduating this year. It is a very strange place. There are restrictions on what clothes you can wear, restrictions on cross gender get togethers, restrictions on physical contact (the 3 mississippi hug rule)… Kids are absolutely ruled with an “iron cross….errr… iron fist. Yet they call themselves Liberty. very funny in a truly Orwellian sense. She e-mails me and we correspond (less and less as time has gone by)…. Anyway, one of her assignments was to “ask an atheist” and she sent me the questionnaire.
    It was like a parody of what human beings think about one another. Awful, truly awful. I answered very honestly and she did well on the assignment (BTW, the young lady is a quality person… great, stand up person).
    The other thing is that Liberty is in the bottom, the absolute bottom of specific academic categories. Look at their “Lawyers who actually pass the bar and work in their chosen field percentage”… It’s appalling. They are ranked 287 out of 310 in one academic category :

    BUT, here’s the rub. Kids (and their parents) and adults alike CHOOSE to go there. They are welcome to do it in my world. No worries. When i have pointed out that the founder of the school was an anti-semitic bigoted monster, the response is that of a brainwashed sycophant. A brain is a terrible thing to waste.

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  • Crooked,

    BUT, here’s the rub. Kids (and their parents) and adults alike CHOOSE to go there. They are welcome to do it in my world…

    They are welcome to do it in mine too, of course. I don’t have a problem with a bible literalist choosing a parochial school where science is purposely substituted with pseudo-science to hide the obvious incompatibility between the religious and scientific views of the world.

    However, the fact that the director of THAT parochial school was seriously considered to head the US Education Department should make our hair stand on end.

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  • Cantaz,
    Agreed, I was thinking what you said while posting and simply lost the train of thought to finish the idea. I had a boss a few years back that was pretty daft. I used to say that her e-mails should have been sent in crayon. I feel the same way about this appointee. What i will say is that it should be an inspiration to all; the idea that someone with an IQ in the mid 80’s can get a college degree, head a college, and make it all the way to a presidential cabinet post. idiots all over the world should have a picture of this dolt in their wallet.

    See, you CAN get there from here.

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  • Cantaz,
    just watched it. The best line:

    This is a place where they teach that dinosaur fossils washed up in Noah’s flood and that the earth is 5,000 years old. This is a school that you flunk out of when you get the answers right.

    Nailed it!

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  • crookedshoes #9
    Dec 23, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    I had a boss a few years back that was pretty daft. I used to say that her e-mails should have been sent in crayon.

    Funny you should mention coloured writing in the context of Trump appointments!

    He reflected on his dealings with Mr Trump in July of this year, when he said: “Most American presidents don’t send you ‘green ink’ letters, often capital letters. Usually couriered overnight with press articles attached to them, ‘READ THIS!’ Underlined, three times.

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