As bizarre as this may sound, the Montana Republicans have chosen Sarah Laszloffy (R-Laurel) to be Chair of the House Education Committee. Laszloffy is 23-years-old and a major advocate (and product) of homeschooling and promotes using your tax dollars to subsidize private sectarian religious schools. She is also an alumnus of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, where students of all ages come to learn how to live “a supernatural lifestyle.” (Who says Republicans are to opposed alternative lifestyles?)
According to the school’s website, Laszloffy and her fellow students learn how to “do the Bible,” —including useful skills such as “how to cast out demons” and other practical solutions to life’s most pressing problems. [screenshot]
Bethel’s members also purport to have the ability to heal people through prayer and bring the dead back to life, although this failed when one young man at the academy fell from a 200-foot cliff and Bethel students tried for several hours to pray him back to life before calling 911. The victim, who had not actually died yet but was instead unconscious, filed a lawsuit against the students after he ended up a paraplegic.
Laszloffy quickly removed references to the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry from her Facebook profile once the Cowgirl blog made the information public two years ago, but you can see a screenshot here.
Laszloffy is the daughter of noted birther Jeff Laszloffy who is a lobbyist for the ultra-religious, ultra-right-wing group which calls itself the Montana Family Foundation.
And if it’s not bad enough that this young ignoramus has been chosen to occupy the GOP’s top education post in the Montana state legislature, consider who her top deputy will be: the number two Republican on the Education committee will be Debra Lamm (R-Livingston), who also worked for the Family Foundation and in fact was the group’s top lobbyist until this year. She will be vice chair of the House Education Committee.
Lamm’s greatest hits include her publicly held belief that improved math and reading standards are connected to the workings of “the United Nations, UNESCO, the ‘New World Order,’ Marxism, Globalism, Islam, etc.” and the culmination “of an envisioned future of ’dominant elites’ who have been working behind the scenes for over 100 years to ensure its adoption.” She has also worked closely on education policy with the wealthy Greg Gianforte of Bozeman, who builds museums that attempt to prove that dinosaurs lived 4,000 years ago.
Overall, however, I’d say the big winner in the Laszloffy and Lamm appointments is Chick-Fil-A. The Family Foundation was behind the enlightened plan to import stale chicken sandwiches to Montana from Chick-Fil-A locations in other states (there are none in Montana) after it announced that it wanted to keep discrimination against LBGT people legal.
But if you thought the bizarre appointments ended there, you’d be wrong.
To be sure, the Montana GOP is a party which has long held a revered place for ignorance in its official party platform–a document which has gone so far as enshrined positions in support of birtherism and the gold standard and making being gay an imprisonable offense.
Even so, newly appointed house education committee member Rep. Matthew Monforton appears to lack faith that Republican voters can tell the difference between someone who’s truly uninformed and someone who’s just faking it to get elected on the GOP ticket. He’s calling for closed primaries–which would prevent independents, the unaffiliated and anyone but GOP stalwarts from voting in the GOP primary. Presumably this will help the electoral chances of the truly backward – so that they too m may be appointed to the committee that makes Montana’s education laws.
Rounding out the house education committee is convicted child abuser Gilbert Bruce Meyers of Havre.
What this means for policy isn’t clear. In the past, Montana republicans have pushed for bills to restore corporal punishment in the classroom–and to expand the concept to all of society by allowing the option of corporal punishment for those convicted of misdemeanor and felony crimes in Montana.