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Sue Kern #fundie startribune.com

Brainerd school board chairwoman questions teaching of evolution
Chairwoman asks why it's still taught if Christians don't agree with it. ’

The chairwoman of Brainerd’s school board this week questioned the teaching of evolution and suggested that it’s incompatible with Christian beliefs.

“I did have a question about evolution,” Sue Kern said at a Monday board meeting after a presentation about the planned biology curriculum at Brainerd High School.

“You know, Darwin’s theory was done in the mid-1800s and it’s never been proven,” Kern said. “So I’m wondering why we’re still teaching it.”

District staff and faculty members who gave the presentation responded by explaining that the theory of evolution has gotten stronger with scientific discovery — for example, the study of DNA.

Kern then wondered about those whose religious beliefs don’t include evolution.

“And then with regard to your Christian students, then — how do you do that? How do you tell them?” she said. “Because they are taught not to agree with that, so …”

Craig Rezac, a Brainerd science teacher who led the presentation to the school board, answered that teaching evolution is not in conflict with Christian beliefs.

“This is science, and science doesn’t deal with a belief system,” he said. “We deal with facts.

“It doesn’t have to be a dilemma or a concern with someone to choose between evolution or Christianity,” he said. “You can actually embrace both.”

Tim Murtha, the district’s director of teaching and learning, pointed out that teaching evolution is explicitly identified in state educational standards.

Kern didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, Brainerd Public Schools Superintendent Laine Larson said Kern’s comments “reflect her personal views and do not reflect the views of the Board of Education as a whole or the Brainerd Public School District.”

“The District’s approved science curriculum aligns with the MN State Standards,” Larson’s statement said, adding that “the Board of Education unanimously approved the Science and Biology curriculum at Monday’s meeting.”

Kern was first elected to the school board in 2012. In a candidate questionnaire in 2016, as she ran for a second term, she promised “to maintain family conservative values and culture.” According to her LinkedIn profile, Kern is a registered nurse and works as a realty assistant.

Minnesota courts have upheld the teaching of evolution. In 2001, the state Court of Appeals upheld the removal of a Faribault biology teacher, Rod LeVake, who argued that teaching evolution violated his Christian beliefs. He was reassigned to teach science in a lower grade, where evolution wasn’t part of the curriculum.

Randy Moore, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota, called evolution disputes “a common theme in virtually every school district. It’s been controversial throughout the country, and not just in the South, for 100 years,” he said.

Moore has done regular surveys of Minnesota teachers and consistently found that at least a third of them either downplay evolution or don’t teach it at all, despite state requirements.

“They are afraid of it — either the topic or the consequences,” Moore said. “Either for religious or local political reasons, it’s just not worth it.”

Disputes over evolution teaching are less frequent than they were 20 to 30 years ago, said Ann Reid, executive director of the National Center for Science Education.

“The court rulings have been so clear,” she said. In many cases, she added, evolution becomes an issue “because someone has run for the school board, or gotten involved because they want to keep evolution out of the schools.”

“They really see it as a battle for their kids’ souls,” Reid said.

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Unknown extremists #fundie startribune.com

Several thousand minks that vandals freed from a central Minnesota farm have been recovered, but “the vast majority” of those died soon after recovery, authorities said Tuesday. Under cover of darkness late Sunday or early Monday, perpetrators invaded Lang Farms near Eden Valley and set loose about 38,000 fur-bearing minks valued at more than $750,000. Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson said he’s convinced that animal rights militants are responsible for the crime.

As of midafternoon Tuesday, the farm’s recovery effort has collected 5,500 of the minks, said chief sheriff’s deputy Jon Lentz. “The vast majority are expiring shortly after being recovered,” Lentz said. “It may be due to stress, but the owners are not certain.”

Michael Whelan, executive director of the fur-raising industry association Fur Commission USA, said Tuesday afternoon that “mink ranchers from around the Midwest continue to arrive to assist in the recovery efforts.” “As domesticated livestock,” Whelan said, minks “are not equipped to live outside the farm environment, where they are fed, watered and cared for daily.”

Lentz said no one has contacted the Sheriff’s Office claiming responsibility. He said his agency continues to cooperate with state and federal authorities in the investigation. Gudmundson has classified the suspects as “nitwits” for thinking they were doing the minks a favor by carrying out a deed that has ended up killing them by the thousands. Whelan concurred, saying, “Anyone who thinks they are helping animals by doing this are severely misinformed.”

Along with the risk of the minks biting humans, Gudmundson said there is concern for wildlife that come into contact with any minks still on the loose. The animals are capable of traveling many miles. The vandalism falls under the Federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, said Whelan, adding that his group is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. The vandals targeted a farm run by the Lang family, which has been raising minks since 1936, spanning four generations.

Lang Farms asks that anyone who spots the minks call the operation at 1-320-453-4750 so its personnel can try to capture them. Anyone with information about the minks’ release is urged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 1-320-251-4240 or Tri-County CrimeStoppers at 1-800-225-1301. In October 2013, animal rights radicals set loose hundreds of minks from a southeastern Minnesota ranch in Grand Meadow.

Minnesota ranks among the top states in mink production year in and year out. Last year, there were 204,580 pelts produced in the state, ranking it No. 5 in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Leading the way by a large margin is Wisconsin, which last year produced 1.2 million of the nation’s yield of 3.2 million pelts, the federal agency reported.

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Judy Cox #fundie startribune.com

SALT LAKE CITY — A mother upset about "indecent" T-shirts on display at a Utah mall found a quick if not especially convenient way to remove them: She bought every last one.

Judy Cox and her 18-year-old son were shopping Saturday at the University Mall in Orem, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, when she saw the shirts in the window of a PacSun store.

The shirts featured pictures of scantily dressed models in provocative poses.

Cox said she complained about the window display to a store manager and was told the T-shirts couldn't be taken down without approval from the corporate office. She then bought all 19 T-shirts in stock, for a total of $567. She says she plans to return them later, toward the end of the chain store's 60-day return period.

The shirts cost about $28 each on the website for PacSun, which sells beach clothes for teenagers and young adults.

"These shirts clearly cross a boundary that is continually being pushed on our children in images on the Internet, television and when our families shop in the mall," Cox said in an email to The Associated Press.


Orem is a city of about 90,000 in ultraconservative Utah County that uses the motto "Family City USA." Most residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which frowns on pornography and encourages its youth to dress and act modestly.

Cox met with Orem city attorney Greg Stephens on Tuesday to discuss whether the images on the T-shirts violated city code.

Stephens said he told Cox that she first needed to file a complaint with police. He said police would then review the issue and decide whether it needed to be passed on to the city attorney, a process that could take weeks.

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justusecnn #fundie startribune.com

(On Minnesota's state senate passing a law to legalize gay marriage)

I love seeing the comments restarted...somebody must have had a good argument why SSM shouldn't be legalized. Something like incurring more to the states Debt to cover SSM benefits, lawsuits against churches for discrimination, that a small percent of Minnesotans get to redefine a term for the majority, that were passing laws just so we don't hurt someone's feelings, that the majority of MN's don't want SSM (which is a completely different argument than putting it in our constitution), It violates DOMA. If it does pass, I wonder what's next from the bullies and incompetent legislature?

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Unidentified man #fundie startribune.com

[on the vehicular vandalism of a planned parenthood clinic in St Paul, Wis.]

Several employees were in the building at the time, said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola. She said the SUV hit the front door of the clinic two or three times, damaging the clinic's front door and surrounding stonework.

When Di Nicola arrived at the clinic, she said the man had gotten out of the SUV and was pacing around it, holding a crucifix and chanting. "He was agitated and he was saying, 'shut down this Auschwitz,' " she said.

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Robert Beale #fundie startribune.com

The trial of millionaire tax protester Robert Beale turned bizarre even before jury selection began Monday as the prosecutor announced the arrest of four of Beale's supporters for conspiring with Beale to disrupt the proceedings and intimidate the judge.

"God ... wants me to take the judge out, that's what he wants me to do," Beale allegedly told his common-law wife, according to a new criminal complaint filed against him and the four associates.


Snell said that Beale told his common-law wife, Mun Suk Kim, in an April 3 conversation that God wants him to "destroy the judge. That judge is evil. He wants me to get rid of her."