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Friday, September 16, 2011

my (unpublished) last word on the Sharia Hysteria in Mason

Hominem Unius Libri Timeo.(St. Th. Aquinus)

There often comes a time when one must leave intransigent opponents to themselves. Some folks just cannot be swayed from their habitual beliefs, no matter the evidence, or reasoned arguments. The sky will still appear Green, to them.

This is their Right. This is America, after all…where we are Free to believe all manner of Nonsense…and to promote those beliefs to the Public, at large.

I will defend that Right, however odious those beliefs seem to me, personally. As with the rest of the catalog of our Rights, they are meaningless unless afforded to the most heinous and unpopular among us. However, there is no Duty to give believers in a Flat Earth a seat at the table when deciding the Geography Curriculum. Indeed, Reason would seem to lean more towards keeping Flat Earthers as far away from Geography Instruction as possible. One’s Right to Speak, and to have and promote one’s Opinion can in no way be construed as including the Right to Force one’s Speech and Opinions on others, let alone on the General Public. Therefore, I will address the General Public, rather than anyone specific.

It is somewhat Pointless to argue with certain segments of our Society regarding their (Unfounded) beliefs that the USA is a Christian Nation. That is their Right, and is to be defended. I fear, however, that by letting this small, but very vocal, Minority have their way in small things, we set ourselves up for larger things, down the road.

In the last couple of years, Believers in the Far Right Version of Christianity have managed to insinuate themselves into various positions where they can influence, and often dictate, Public Policy. The recent flap over the State Board of Education is a prime example. The Pseudohistory of David Barton will soon be in Textbooks…that we are a Christian Nation, that Joe McCarthy was a hero, and that Thomas Jefferson was a minor figure, if he is mentioned at all. This is wrong, and serves no purpose save to further damage the education of our kids, and sow fear and hatred among the Public.

Anyone can cherry-pick the statements of our Founding Fathers to make their case.Too, anyone can cherry_pick the words in the Bible, the Koran or James Joyce to try and convince others to join in whatever Crusade they are mounting.

This is what Free Speech, and Republican Democracy, is all about.

However, in a Civilisation, such as ours…rumored to have been Founded on Reason…it is imperative that we guard against the encroachments of Nonsense into Public Life.

The usual retort to this kind of statement is that I am, thereby, Persecuting Christians.

Those offended have every Right to believe that, as well. But Civilisation only “works” if I am afforded the same Rights….and that some Common Ground can be discovered.

That Common Ground, currently,and for better than 200 years, is that no one Religion be promoted by the State.The Establishment clause, in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, necessarily prohibits any involvement, by the State, in Religion. Therefore, if one wants their kids to receive Religious Instruction, one should look elsewhere than the Public Schools. Public Schools should deal in Commonalities…in the reality, and history, that We all agree on. This is getting more difficult as time goes on.

Similarly, the State is Prohibited from promoting, or favoring, any one Religion in any other area of Public life. This means that Non_Christians, including Muslims and Atheists, enjoy the same Rights and Protections as anyone else. No one can be discriminated against, or favored, due to their Religious beliefs. There must be Freedom of Religion for Everyone, even those you might despise, if there is to be Freedom of Religion for anyone.

One without the other is a recipe for disaster, as the Founding Fathers knew all too well.

Consider what would be the result, if those freedoms were suspended, if the Far Right of Christianity were to succeed in getting their Religion into Public Schools…Drive around Mason. Count the Churches. Which Version is to be taught? Shall it be Church of Christ? Methodist? That might not go down easily with the many Catholics among us….or the Lutherans. Whose Version shall it be?

Are we to impose a Literalist Reading of the Bible? If so, which Version?

This way leads to Chaos….and, eventually, if History has any weight, to a Hobbesian War of All against All.

Better, by far, to leave questions of Religion to the Family, and to the Individual….and keep the State out of it.

If the most despised minority is denied their Rights in questions of Faith, then no one’s Rights in such matters are secure.

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