Pieces

March 23, 2006 at 9:25 pm 1 comment

On my mailing list an actual debate has come out about I.D. and creationism and all that. What's interesting is that it has amazingly managed to not be a total flame fest, but actually is fairly interesting. Basically, the first Amendment states,

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and
to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

As Peter Barber points out, "I think it is safe to say that many of us believe the non establishment
clause in the First Amendment restricts Congress and only Congress. It seems
perverse to us that it would be used somehow to silence schoolchildren or any
citizen from speaking about God wherever they may be. It seems to us that the
First Amendment was written to insure that right. Am I reading it wrong ?"

It turns out he was wrong becuase after the civil war the first amendment was extened to include state and city level governments. Hence states could no longer fund faith based iniatives, but this still left open the possibility of schools and other state based programs containing religion with in them. This changed in 1947 when the supreme court ruled:

it's a 1947 case in which the supreme court ruled:

The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this:

(1) Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church.

(2) Neither can pass laws which aid one religion aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.

(3) Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.

(4) No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance.

(5) No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.

(6) Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa.

Basically the first amendment was interpreted so that no religious group could be funded or aided even if it included all religions at once and indirect funding in the form of supplying money through non-religious laws became illegal. This effectively set the standard for the seperation of church and state in the U.S. It's surprising that this is so recent a ruling seeing as how many of the founder father's writing on the constitution and their views there in were more certianly opposed to the concept of government and religion co-mingling. It's interesting too in that the U.S. is one of the few countries where this exists. While we have an image of Europe as more aesthest and many studies back up this belief, it's still a matter of government when it comes to funding religious schools in Ireland, England, and beyond. What this suggests to me is that we're really just the start in this entire mess, that with an already existing school system that favors religion (and England is working to include Islamic schools as part of their state schools in order to greater "assimilate" their Muslim communities a problem France doesn't seem to have if the word of Palestinians educated their holds true) it would be much easier for creationists to win their war abroad. What's interesting about this is why are creationists asking for federal funds? With churchs already not taxed their effectively asking that the rest of the U.S. support their beliefs. Taken that the number of Christians and actual Church attendance has been diminishing per year (yet the number of contributions to faith based NGOs continues to rise) and that Churches are adopting programs like Evolution Sundays it does make one wonder, are we witnessing the bottlenecking of a group of people that happen to be serious about their belief? How many of these Churches professed to such hardlines on evolution before Rove attempted to convince that they could make their mark politically through Bush? In the end I.D. will survive as Christian Scientests have, as the church of elvis has, as the mormons have, as the jews have, as the buddhists have, as many religions have. While Christianity continues to shrink every year with the occasional flowering of a "revivalist movement" you have to wonder how long before these people figure out that the money they pump into world prayer groups and lobbying could be spent providing schools for their faiths and iniating new members with good standing in the community? As Jane Galt pointed out, of course religious groups are lobbying for their beleifs, they don't have a choice. We live in a system where people have to stand for their beliefs and defend them, and while democracy isn't necessarily a bad system, from time to time we'll always see these movements. What's interesting though is that here we have non-profits that are highly profitable pushing for the federal system to pay for something that they could probably pay for themselves. Mormons don't seem to be to upset that they don't get anything from the federal government except a tax break, and the Amish don't seem to be complaing much either, neither are the creationists of the 80s, or the Christian Scientests of today. I.D. stands the chance of being a decent religious movement and more importantly, to play with the words of The Economist, a step forward to including scientific reasoning into the arguements of religion. That money is being poured into research groups that are willing to question science and catalog the gaps in it's knowledge can only go so far as to strength an enterprise that has always purported to be able to answer every question with a simple experimental approach and some math. That science or religion expects anyone to beleive what they say absolutely will always be an assumption that life can not bear out truthfully.

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edit I mentioned Jane Galt in this post and in a different one, apparently Gane Galt is a psuedoynm for a writer from the economist:

http://www.kailiu.com/public/2006-03-28_442a0550.xhtml&displayGuid=&storyGuid=zuKHz1ro4_l-PjUG

So I'm assumin Jane's views are tought experiments similar to Tyrone's on marginal rev.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. dignifieddevil  |  March 23, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    p.s. I am really playing with the economist on that point. Their article just said that I.D. is better than the creationists scandal of the 80s because it’s no longer claiming one god. i.e. in the debate of ideas creationists had given up on one religion and accepted the plurality of religious beliefs.

    As for the Jane Galt comment, she was commenting that there is no way for people with different beleifs to co-exist in a democracy that has only one rule. Or at least so I was taking her and I’m probably a bit out of context on that one.

    and finally, yeah I know the i.d. and abortiond debares and controveries in the U.S. are far from over, and I do think that the 1947 law barring state and federal governments from aiding religious groups is a good idea and worth purseing. It’s also been pointed out that Bush’s faith based iniatives which give money to Churches are a breach of this law.

    Reply

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