Other Voices: FEMA funding and Bible education

Farm Forum

Sioux Falls doesn’t need FEMA money

Sioux Falls has a history of being self-sufficient and generous. This is a place where we don’t ask for help unless we really need it.

That’s what makes a discussion over whether Sioux Falls should refuse federal money for an April storm cleanup so interesting.

The storm caused millions of dollars in damage in the area, and Sioux Falls city officials have done a fantastic job of cleaning up an astounding amount of tree branches. In addition, people in the city have voluntarily helped neighbors and strangers who needed an extra hand to get their yards cleared of debris.

Because the county was named a disaster area, officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been in the area to figure out what cleanup costs are eligible for reimbursement. Using a formula, the city of Sioux Falls could get paid up to 75 percent from the federal government and 10 percent from the state for some of those expenses.

We urge the city to turn down the money.

We can and have taken care of ourselves after this storm. And we’ve done a good job. The city can afford to pay the costs associated with the cleanup because we have $40 million in reserve funds.

This country has financial problems, in part, because cities have just taken the money. Little by little, just because someone qualifies, the federal government provides help even if a city such as Sioux Falls can afford to take care of an emergency by itself.

— Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Turn down Bible education in public schools

Superintendent Tim Mitchell is asking the Rapid City Area Schools Board, in response to a nonbinding resolution by the 2012 South Dakota Legislature that encourages the academic study of the Bible in public schools, to consider a Bible curriculum, or at least a policy on teaching about religion.

We’re asking them not to.

We already expect our overextended and underfunded school system to do so much. Must they also now take responsibility for providing the ‘‘content, characters and narratives of the Bible’’ for students?

We think not.

If a literature course needs to examine the Biblical references found in a Shakespearean play or the Christian themes of a Flannery O’Connor short story, by all means, talk about them. If an American government class needs to put the concept of religious liberty into context for a chapter on the First Amendment, great. Those are appropriate classroom discussions, and we would hope that those are already happening in our school system today. But we don’t think those are lessons that should take an entire semester to impart.

We don’t believe that biblical literacy or biblical interpretation is the job of the public education system. That type of religious understanding and formation is best left in the homes and churches, where parents can choose what religious beliefs to impart to their children.

— Rapid City Journal