Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Back to the bottom, Sisyphus

Preserving secular democracy seems to be something of an uphill battle.

Sixty-five percent of Americans believe that the nation's founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation and 55% believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation, according to the “State of the First Amendment 2007” national survey released today by the First Amendment Center.

58% of respondents support teacher-led prayers and 43% favor school holiday programs that are entirely Christian. Moreover, 50% would allow schools to teach the Bible as a factual text in a history class.
Well, Bill O'Reilly can take some satisfaction in that "T-Warriors" like the Christian Coalition and Focus on the Family have been able to take advantage of public ignorance about the first amendment to revise the history of this nation in order to lay the ideological groundwork for the death of secular democracy. O'Reilly himself claims in Culture Warrior that the nation was founded on Judeo-Christian philosophy.

In addition, 1/3 of those polled believe the press has too much freedom and 28% believe that majority religious faiths should be able to decide that particular "fringe" religions do not get first amendment freedom of worhip protections.

Charles Haynes wrote a companion column worth reading.

Despite the fact that all of the above are unconstitutional under current law, many people see nothing wrong — and much right — with school officials privileging or even endorsing the Christian faith.

Transpose the location (or substitute another religion) and the result would surely be very different. Would Americans support the creation of an Iraqi state where the majority Shiites imposed their prayers, religious celebrations, and scriptures on all Iraqi schoolchildren? Not likely.

On the contrary, we send young Americans to fight for an Iraq where people of all faiths will be protected from state-imposed religion. Why? Because we understand that (however quixotic the quest) only a secular democracy in Iraq with no established faith will guarantee religious freedom — and end sectarian strife.

Closer to home, however, many Americans seem to think our Framers had another idea.


Jennifer said...

That's scary. Religious freedom means freedom for all religions (or no religion). I am not a traditionally religious person and I am continually bombarded here in the southern Bible belt with evangelical Christianity. It irritates me to no end.

Hume's Ghost said...

Tell me about it. I'm in the state to your right.