Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State Sanctioned Creationism

I want our schools, our courts, our halls of government to be neutral ground, where no religion or theology has any more influence than any other, where no one is persecuted or favored on the basis of their faith. The most sensible way to insure that is to not allow any intermingling of religion and state. That way our government can represent us all equally, it being no more Catholic than it is Hindu or Muslim or Baptist or atheist, even if it is made up of people who hold those and other beliefs.

Neutral, secular, nonsectarian, fair.

Unfortunately, in some states there are schools that are teaching creationism. Actually that is probably true in every state because private schools can teach what they want. But some investigative journalism has recently uncovered that there are taxpayer funded schools that are teaching creationism.

That is not OK because creationism is a religious belief. It has no scientific merit. It cannot be taught in place of or even alongside science in publicly funded schools. To do so is to use a part of our government to show that some religious beliefs are favored over others, which is strictly forbidden by our Constitution. This applies to any school that is getting government money, be that the local public school or even a private school partially funded through tuition vouchers provided by the state.

I understand how it might be tempting to resolve such a contentious issue via some sort of compromise — maybe taking the time to teach both science and creationism, letting the students decide for themselves. Generally I am enthusiastically in favor of compromise but although teaching both might seem fair to everyone, it isn't. Not all religions share the same creation mythology or share a creation mythology that is compatible with the creationism that is being promoted in some American schools. Such schools are taking a side in theological matters allowing some religions to promote their beliefs.

Part of the reason that I am so adamantly opposed to religion in our government is to protect religious believers. Believers who might believe differently than those currently in power who might abuse their authority. If we keep our government secular in its purpose, from our schools to our courts, then we can all be represented equally with no one religion ever able to use government power to promote itself or persecute heretics and nonbelievers.

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