Sea Legs and Rotten Eggs

Chaz Stevens at the Florida Capitol building in Tallahassee, Fla., in 2013.

Brendan Farrington/AP

A Florida activist known for his tongue-in-cheek petitions to local government agencies has asked school districts in Florida to ban the Bible.

Florida man seeks Bible ban throughout the state’s schools : NPR

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The head of the Navy shared his support for the Biden administration’s 2023 fiscal year defense budget, which would end a sea-launched cruise missile-nuclear development program.

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that he disagreed with a handful of other defense officials who have said SLCM-N should be continued.

UKRAINE COULD ‘DEFINITELY WIN’ DEPENDING ON HOW VICTORY IS DEFINED, EXPERTS SAY

“I believe that we should zero out the SLCM line. I believe the president has all the tools in his toolkit necessary to deter and deal with the threat,” he said.

His comments came during a hearing to review the budget request for the Navy. Del Toro, Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, and Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, testified together.

The Biden administration submitted its fiscal 2023 budget request of more than $813 billion for national defense, with $773 billion of it allocated for the Department of Defense, in late March. While the price tag is the largest in the history of the country, it was crafted before Russia invaded Ukraine and before inflation hit its highest rate in 40 years in the gauge favored by the Federal Reserve at the end of March.

Republican lawmakers in particular have argued that President Joe Biden did not allocate enough money for the Pentagon, given the unanticipated inflation hike.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee in early April, “This president or any president deserves to have multiple options to deal with national security situations,” and in written answers during his 2019 confirmation, he said that sea-launched ballistic missile warheads “are necessary to enable our flexible and tailored deterrence strategy as we modernize aging nuclear forces.”

Additionally, Adm. Chas Richard, U.S. Strategic Command’s chief, told lawmakers that he believed the ending of this program would leave “a deterrence and assurance gap,” and Gen. Tod Wolters, the commander of U.S. European Command, while providing testimony on Capitol Hill, told lawmakers that he agrees with Richard’s position.

“I do, congressman, and I know his words were attempting to drive home the fact that having multiple options exacerbates the challenge for the potential enemies against us,” he explained.

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin downplayed the situation during an appearance on the Hill, saying, “The marginal capability that this provides is far outweighed by the cost.”

The secretary has also defended the budget proposal, saying, “Clearly, when we snapped the chalk line, when we built the budget, inflation was at a different point. But this budget gives us the capability to go after that types of things that we believe we need to support our strategy.”

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A Florida activist known for his tongue-in-cheek petitions to local government agencies has asked school districts in Florida to ban the Bible.

In petitions sent to public school superintendents across the state, Chaz Stevens asked the districts to “immediately remove the Bible from the classroom, library, and any instructional material,” Stevens wrote in the documents, which were shared with NPR. “Additionally, I also seek the banishment of any book that references the Bible.”

His petitions cited a bill signed into law last month by Gov. Ron DeSantis, which lets parents object to educational materials. That bill came about after some parents complained about sexually explicit books being taught in Florida schools.

Many of those books, such as Gender Queer: A Memoir, deal with LGBTQ themes and coming out stories. DeSantis celebrated the removal of Gender Queer at a news conference after the signing of the law. It’s “a cartoon-style book with graphic images of children performing sexual acts,” he said last month. “That is wrong.”

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BOOK NEWS & FEATURES

Efforts to ban books jumped an ‘unprecedented’ four-fold in 2021, ALA report says

Liberals have been critical of the legislation. After passage, the state’s Democratic leader, Lauren Book, lamented Florida’s joining “places like Russia and China, modern-day examples of what happens when free thought and free speech are tightly restricted in all levels of society, including in school.”

Lauren Book in New York City in 2019.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Child Mind Institute

So, with Florida the latest flashpoint in the culture wars, Stevens decided it was time to take up arms. His target: The Bible. “My objection to the Bible being in your public schools is based on the following seven points, offered for your learned consideration,” Stevens wrote.

Stevens proceeded to question whether the Bible is age-appropriate, pointing to its “casual” references to murder, adultery, sexual immorality, and fornication. “Do we really want to teach our youth about drunken orgies?”

He also took issue with the many Biblical references to rape, bestiality, cannibalism and infanticide. “In the end, if Jimmy and Susie are curious about any of the above, they can do what everyone else does – get a room at the Motel Six and grab the Gideons,” he wrote.

The 57-year-old Deerfield Beach man says his ire was stoked after Florida lawmakers decided this month to ban 54 math books that were claimed to have incorporated topics such as critical race theory. “I love the algebras,” says Stevens, who studied applied mathematics in college. “And those Tally [Tallahassee] loons just banned a bunch of arithmetic books?”

Stevens sent the petitions as a way to point out the hypocrisy, he said. “If you want to teach morality and ethics, do you really want to turn to a book that wants you to dash babies against rocks?” he told NPR, pointing to Psalm 137:9.

Stevens, who doesn’t have any children attending Florida public schools, says he hasn’t heard back from any of the school districts yet. But his group is tracking when the emailed petitions are opened. As of late Monday, the Pasco County School District had shared the email internally 35 times, he said — and Duval County reached out to the state capital for guidance.

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Florida Man Airs Grievances With Festivus Pole In Capitol

“My activism in the past has been wildly successful,” Stevens said. “And, I imagine, will continue on a similar trajectory.”

Stevens said he is particularly interested in drawing attention to the hypocrisy. “I don’t have the votes,” he said. “My job is merely to turn hypocrisy on itself and let the bureaucrats eat eachother for lunch.”

It’s not the first time Stevens has made waves for his activism. In 2015, he petitioned 11 South Florida municipalities to either drop the prayer that opens their city commission meetings, or let him lead a prayer in the name of Satan.

After Stevens’ requests, some Florida cities ended up dropping their moment of prayer altogether. “The satanic stare withered them down,” Stevens told the Sun Sentinel.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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