Monday, March 4, 2013

Bob Barth Responds to Carl Piedmont

[Submitted by Bob Barth about 4:30pm March 4.  You may read the exchange up to this point here and here.  I don't have a link to Seth Fiermonti's comment referred to below.   If it's public, please post a link in the comments. - Thanks, Dean.]

I wish to thank Carl Piedmont for his explanation that he believes in modern science and by inference in evolution over creationism.

I thought my questioning a candidate on some of his beliefs before voting was a not unreasonable thing to do. Seth Fiermonti 
tells me I have “vehemently defamed” Mr. Piedmont and Mr. Piedmont tells me I misrepresented his character and that I have personally attacked his family. Such was certainly not my intention and to any who feel I have offended I sincerely apologize.

That said, please allow me to clarify my initial concern:

Mr. Piedmont’s mention of Trinity International University disturbed not only me but others in the community if it was in any way an endorsement of the institution. The following are statements from its web site:

“Trinity International University holds to the doctrinal position of the Evangelical Free Church of America.” “We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.”

As one who has read both testaments from cover to cover I find this a rather scary and restrictive guideline in an institution of higher learning, and totally at odds with the teaching of modern science unless they simply ignore their “doctrinal position” (which hopefully they do). No, I would not vote for School Board anyone who espoused these doctrinal positions and I am fully satisfied that Mr. Piedmont renounces them and believes in rational thought and modern science.

I wish Mr Piedmont and his family only the best.

Robert L. Barth


  1. From TIU's catalog

    BIO 400 Origins and Evolution
    A critical examination of the empirical and theoretical bases for the theories of the origin of life and biological evolution. The scriptural account of creation and the various schools of thought on creation and evolution are considered.
    Prerequisites: BIO 111, 112 or consent of the instructor. Offered spring semester in odd-numbered years. Three hours.

    As I pointed out on OyRivComBlog it's perfectly fair to ask a candidate if he'd like his younger son's high school bio course to be more like his older son's college bio course. After all, it was Mr. Piedmont who brought up Trinity International University in the first place.

    - Dean

  2. It's pretty clear that TIU is BOTH evangelical AND Biblically literalist. They aren't hiding it. It's on their web site. Mr. Piedmont brought it up, so it raises the issue of Teaching Creationism In Schools. I'd like to think this is a "fringe" issue, but in the US today, there are still many people who want Creationism taught in public schools. Just look at Kansas, Pennsylvania, etc.

    Has anyone asked Mr. Piedmont whether he thinks it would be desirable to teach Creationism or ID (Intelligent Design) in schools, either public or private? Even if he would not "impose" his own religious views on other people, there are many believers in Creationism and ID who think that those doctrines are scientific views and that we should "teach the controversy." Someone on another blog argued that, if elected, Mr. Piedmont would be "just one vote" on the school board and could not make curricular changes on his own. This is true. However, the school board as a whole *appoints* the superintendent, and even independently of that we deserve to know the views on Creationism/ID of each and every board member.

    It's a straightforward question, fair to ask any school board candidate: do you think it's a good idea for schools to teach Creationism or ID in science classes, and if so, why?

    If you are offended by this question itself, then you are too thin-skinned (and out-of-touch) to be on a public school board. A good school board candidate should have a clear and honest answer to this question.

    Should be easy to settle so we can move on to other issues.

  3. I agree that the question of curriculum is one of merit to any candidate for school board. Had the question been raised in a polite manner, I suspect all would have been fine.

    However, I believe Mr. Barth brought scrutiny to his concerns when he stated that while he would "he defend without reservation any individual’s right to believe whatever he/she chooses" he need not "respect or tolerate those beliefs". Religious tolerance is not religious indifference. Tolerance means to value the right of another person to hold beliefs that you may feel are wrong.

    In addition, I believe Mr. Barth brought further scrutiny by his suspicion that Mr. Piedmont's prime motive to run would be to “incorporate their ideation into the curriculum” and that was “a scary thought”. This is contrary to the notion that no nefarious intentions were involved.

    I believe Mr. Piedmont did simply and concisely respond to Mr. Barth’s questions and suspicions. The fact that he found Mr. Barth’s letter as a misrepresentation of his character and a personal attack on his family should come of no surprise. I remember some who found Mr. Kach’s tweets regarding the First Lady to be “personally” offended. Offense is taken personally, whether intended or not. In addition, we seem to be a community that is easily offended.

    I was relieved to read both Mr. Piedmont's response and Mr. Barth's follow up apology to those who took offense. I found both to be respectful and of class. Despite Mr. Piedmont’s response, some folk’s “lawyerly side” still question his intentions. I find all three candidates worthy and commend them for their willingness and commitment to our community.