Alabama State Senator: Pay Increases for Teachers are Against 'Biblical Principle'
Cross-posted with permission from Talk2Action. By K12NN contributor Rachel Tabachnick.
This is a new twist on “biblical economics” that I’ve not heard before. According to Alabama State Sen. Shadrack McGill, a 62% pay increase for the state’s legislators in 2007 was necessary, but large increases in teachers’ pay would violate “a biblical principle.” McGill was speaking on January 30 at a prayer breakfast that he organized in Ft. Payne, Alabama. McGill voiced his objections to separation of church [and state] later that same day at a Jackson County School Board meeting that resembled a revival; participants prayed and sang with their hands raised in the air. (Video below.)
The Dekalb County Times Journal reported on McGill’s discussion about pay for legislators versus pay for teachers.
McGill said that by paying legislators more, they’re less susceptible to taking bribes. “He needs to make enough that he can say no, in regards to temptation. … Teachers need to make the money that they need to make. There needs to be a balance there. If you double what you’re paying education, you know what’s going to happen? I’ve heard the comment many times, ‘Well, the quality of education’s going to go up.’ That’s never proven to happen, guys.
It’s a Biblical principle. If you double a teacher’s pay scale, you’ll attract people who aren’t called to teach.
To go in and raise someone’s child for eight hours a day, or many people’s children for eight hours a day, requires a calling. It better be a calling in your life. I know I wouldn’t want to do it, OK?
And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It’s just in them to do. It’s the ability that God give ’em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn’t matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity.”
It’s not clear why McGill was arguing about the hypothetical doubling of teachers’ pay. Alabama legislators have been discussing the possibility of a pay raise for teachers, but suggestions thus far have been for a 2.5% increase, and that is only for the one third of the state’s teachers with the least seniority.
Additional comments made by McGill at the prayer breakfast included the following, reported in another Dekalb County Times Journal article.
A third bill McGill plans to propose allows religious groups to “put money in a pot and if a person in the group gets sick, they can pay from the pot.”…He also wanted to reintroduce the Tim Tebow Bill, which would allow homeschooled children to participate in public school athletics.
McGill was asked about changes to the Retirement System of Alabama, possibly required because of shortfalls in interest income. Apparently McGill feels that the Alabama residents he represents should not be too worried about that.
“Well, you know what?” McGill said. “I think we’re going to get raptured out of here before it comes that time for you anyway.”
McGill has been vocal about his opposition to separation of church and state and repeated his objections on Monday at a Jackson County School Board meeting. The meeting was held to address complaints about religious-based assemblies and in-school proselytizing including the “Bible Man.”
A local ABC affiliate reported,
While the complaint before the board cited violations of the constitution, State Senator Shadrack McGill says he doesn’t believe in separation of church and state. [Video embedded below.] “I don’t believe you keep God out of state. Church represents the body of Christ, Christ being the head of that body. No, I don’t believe in that separation,” said Sen. McGill.
The school board resolved to continue allowing the “Bible Man” and other religious activities during school hours.
In the GOP sweep of 2010, McGill was elected in a close race (by 628 votes) against the incumbent Democratic Senator Lowell Barron, who had held the seat for the 8th Senate district for 28 years. This past November McGill gave a speech recounting the successes of the 2011 legislative agenda by the Republican supermajority. The Dekalb County Times Journal reported,
McGill listed several bills during his presentation that he said were significant in becoming law during his first session, including one of the strictest immigration laws in America, repeal of the state workers retirement program and the Students First Act that reformed teacher tenure.
Following the speech, McGill was asked about Alabama’s controversial immigration law and the backlash. From the Dekalb County Times Journal,
McGill said he heard there are truckloads of pregnant women coming to America to have babies.
On a daily basis there are new examples in politics of “biblical economics” or biblical capitalism, and most are more skillfully employed than Sen. McGill’s curious comments about teachers’ pay. Biblical economics is a term being used by those who believe that government policy should be dictated by the Bible, which they claim mandates radical laissez-faire economics. This includes forbidding inheritance taxes and capital gains taxes.
In the video below, David Barton tells the audience at an American Family Association conference that these taxes are unbiblical and that Jesus opposed the minimum wage. Barton is the former vice chair of the Texas Republican Party and the most popular Christian nationalist history speaker in the country. He blends economic and social issues into a revisionist narrative of American history.
The Religious Right is not focused solely on fighting abortion and gay rights and never has been. Biblical capitalism has been an underlying theme for decades as I’ve demonstrated in studies of textbooks for homeschooling and private schools dating back to the 1980s. Increasingly, promotion of unregulated free markets and wars against labor unions have become sacralized and are now claimed to be divinely mandated issues that cannot be compromised. Now any argument against these positions can be attacked as anti-biblical, anti-Christian, or even anti-American.
McGill hosted the prayer breakfast for reasons he described to the Dekalb County Times Journal.
“I really don’t believe in the separation-of-church-and-state thing,” he said. “It’s an opportunity, for me, for the church to get together with the elected officials and speak one-on-one as the meeting allows.”
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt was the guest speaker at the prayer breakfast.
Aderholt was a co-sponsor with Sen. Richard Shelby of the 2005 Constitution Restoration Act, a bill originally drafted by Judge Roy Moore and Herb Titus. The bill would have resulted in local and state governments being able to pass laws or take action based on “acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government” that could not be overturned by the Supreme Court.
Talk2action’s Frederick Clarkson wrote about the events leading up to the Constitution Restoration Act in a 2005 article in The Public Eye.
A similar bill was introduced by Rep. Ron Paul in 2004 and again in 2009. The We the People Act would prohibit both the Supreme Court and each federal court from adjudicating any claim involving:
(1) State or local laws, regulations, or policies concerning the free exercise or establishment of religion; (2) the right of privacy, including issues of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction; or (3) the right to marry without regard to sex or sexual orientation where based upon equal protection of the laws.
Link to Constitutional Law Professor Darren Hutchinson’s evaluation and the potential consequences if this or a similar bill was enacted into law.
Sen. Shadrack McGill is one of many local, state, and national politicians who are actively working to break down the wall of separation of church and state and to apply their version of “biblical principles” to governing America. It should be increasingly apparent that the biblical worldview they seek to impose is not just about the hot button social issues, but applies to economic policy and all areas of society and government.