The Editorials of E. Desiderius

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Religious Roundup

In Afghanistan, a man is being prosecuted and is facing the death penalty for simply converting to Christianity[1] The sad truth of the matter is that this is not Islam or Islamic Law. Islam has, through its history, made exceptions and respected “People of the Book,” their fellow worshippers who held the same basic belief in the same basic deity. It is unfortunate that was passes as Islam now is a radical rejection of all things different; of all opposing ideas. Islam, and not just radical Islam, is on the defensive. Only a civilization fearing irrelevance would make a mockery of themselves in violent tirades against mere cartoons, threatening to murder the wayward cartoonists. Only a civilization fearing obscurity would resort to suicide bombings, kidnappings, brutal murders, and medieval-style Holy War. Silencing dissent in the name of God is not justice, forced adherence to a religion is not freedom and Afghanistan is no democracy.

It has been whispered that the Republicans may attempt to pass a bill a barring all courts but the Supreme Court from ruling on the constitutionality of “under god” in the Pledge of Allegiance [2]. This author is reluctant to even lend credence to such a foolish bill, however he firmly believes that given the history of the pledge and the addition of the phrase under Eisenhower to contrast the United States to the Godless Communists, the “Under God” clause has no true historical claim to legitimacy and violates the separation of church and state. The oath is not just a civic one, it is also an expression of piety, which truly has no place in a multicultural society founded upon secular values. Its time to chuck “Under God” out the door.

The Georgia Legislature may approve a bill authorizing the teaching of an elective Bible-as-Literature and History class [3]. This, of course, has prompted cautious opposition from several sources, namely advocates of separation of church and state. Indeed, the line between church and state is a vital one; however in this case, the Georgia legislature is not off its rocker. The Bible is important cultural fodder, and even non-religious students may have an interest in learning its stories, its morals and its importance. And while this author believes that a comparative religion course studying the texts of all major religions would be more valuable, this is not an unacceptable breach of church-state standards, as long as the class remains academic. The course cannot cross into actual preaching of doctrine, nor should it endorse a specific version of the Bible or interpretation, and the teachers should be trained to deal with the matter objectively and tactfully, however examining the Bible as literature, as history and as a cultural document is an important matter and a valid academic subject.

-E. Desiderius

Full Disclosure: This author considers himself to be nothing more than a secular, doubting, agnostic, raised Catholic, never schooled beyond First Communion.

Posted by George Gordon | Thursday, March 23, 2006 | E-mail this post

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