The evangelicals, it seems, are threatened by the idea that the state should set scientifically rigorous standards for public schools. They’d rather the kids learn about the origins of life from a book written by people who didn’t understand how rain works. Don’t you just love Florida?

The Florida Department of Education’s last public hearing on a rewrite of state science standards took place in a meeting room of the Orlando Hyatt Regency at Orlando International Airport. It might as well have been Dayton, Tenn., in the summer of 1925. Where, oh Lord, is our H.L. Mencken?

One woman with a thick drawl and gray pin curls called evolution “unprovable and Godless,” pointing out that public schools only began teaching kids to read so they could read the Bible. “Evolution and my Christian faith do not mix,” she declared, urging the state to allow “other theories” such as creationism and intelligent design to be taught.

Another woman, who identified herself as a former assistant principal in the area, had this to say: “Evolution has not been proven. I’m a Christian who believes that God created the world in seven days and that there are many examples. There are many proven facts in the Bible.” We are still shuddering in horror.

And then there was the man who identified himself as a biology teacher. He said, “Science that might lead to a theological statement is still science.” Um, really? So does
two plus two equal Jesus?

All was not lost for the rational class, however. “The purpose of science is not to threaten religion,” said one woman. “The problem in teaching intelligent design is that there is no room in science to say, ‘My pastor told me’ or ‘It’s in the Bible.’ It would undermine science since there’s really not much debate in the scientific community about evolution.”

Unfortunately she was burned at the stake in the parking lot for heresy.

Sweet serendipity. It doesn’t often happen that just as we’re going to press with a fantastically written cover feature [see page 16], we get a little breaking tidbit that ties into it. But this week we did.

We intercepted an e-mail that local attorney Adam Sudbury sent to the editorial board at the Orlando Sentinel Jan. 27 regarding their extensive coverage of the plight of State Attorney Lawson Lamar and the $5.4 million he’s requesting from the state to fix it.

It seems Sudbury, who began his career as an assistant public defender, is calling bullshit on Lamar’s caseload lament, even taking the time to outline what he thinks are the real issues in the state attorney’s office.

For starters, he says, the charging process is broken. When cases first come in they go to an “intake” department, which then reviews the weight of the evidence and decides whether to prosecute. Thereafter, it’s assigned to an attorney in the trial division. The “intake” folks are notorious for charging too many weak cases, thus overloading the trial attorneys.

Sudbury further argues that Lamar’s attorneys are discouraged from negotiating pleas, overloading the docket and leading to a snowstorm of tactical filings.

“Lamar’s office has one of the highest prosecutor per capita caseload[s] and one of the lowest conviction rates in the state,” Sudbury writes. “And it isn’t because he’s unlucky or underfunded. It’s the result of a mismanaged office.”

The prosecution rests.

Hey kids, do you know what Thursday is? Valentine’s Day, yes, but it’s also the fifth annual Day of Purity, wherein you young ladies proclaim your virtue by telling your sweetie that he can knock on your door all he wants, but he ain’t getting in. As for you gents, please keep your hands above the waist. And if you two dance, remember to leave space between you for the Holy Ghost.

This grand, virginal idea is the brainchild of the Almighty’s personal law firm, Orlando’s own Liberty Counsel. To reach out to the kids, the Day of Purity even has its own super-awesome MySpace page (www.myspace.com/dayof
), because that’s where the kids hang out to embrace chastity. As of this writing, the Day of Purity MySpace page had 66 friends, so three of us immediately friend-requested it. We are so subversive.

Anyway, that MySpace site has this odd disclaimer in its “About Me” section: “We recommend that you do not click through anywhere on MySpace.com pages except from this preview section. There are many unpure pages and advertisements that you can reach from myspace.com.”)

What’s not unusual at all is that the Liberty Counsel has figured out how to score a few bucks off their no-sex holiday. You can buy a Day of Purity T-shirt and wristband – which the Liberty Counsel encourages you to wear to demonstrate that you are not getting any and proud of it – for only $13.

But if you do happen to have an unchaste thought on V-Day, a visit to the Holy Land Experience will help cleanse your permanent record. And what a great time to visit!

Paul and Jan Crouch, the power-hair couple from the Trinity Broadcasting Network who recently bought the Holy Land, are making the place even holier with the addition of a 100,000-square-foot TV station across from the park and a huge billboard along I-4, which should much please the Lord – and earn the Crouches some extra coin. But of course that’s beside the point.

Orange County Commission meetings aren’t usually a source of entertainment, but the Feb. 19 edition might be an exception. Commissioners will vote on the permit for Evans High School, which promises a packed house, heated debates and repeated denials that race has anything to do with Ocoee residents’ strident efforts to keep the mostly black school away from their mostly white city [See “The elephant in the room,” Jan. 17].

Ocoeeites have painted their opposition as a safety issue, complaining that their quiet, rural settlement will become noisy and property values will plummet. Could their attitudes have something to do with the fact that Evans is 84 percent black, and Ocoee is 82 percent white? Of course not. The fun starts at 3:30 p.m.

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