This is a reposting of a diary I did on kos earlier this year. I thought it had a bit of relevance to some of the discussions going on this week, so am reposting it here as an expression of my views. Hope no one minds
I’m often saddened (and puzzled) by the push to break down the walls between church and state, sometimes not only the goal of religious radicals in government and the citizenry, but also seemingly rational people.
Why don’t we just…
allow some talk of God in the classrooms (outside of Comparative Religions).
let just a little school sanctioned prayer be said
teach Creationism/ID along with evolution
just give Government money directly to the churches.
And so on. This worries me. I’ll give a couple of reasons why I think it’s a really bad idea.
#1. When there is a meeting between a train and a passenger car on the tracks, car loses. Every time.
(more after the fold)
I believe the separation between church and state is for the protection of the churches… not the state.
I value freedom of religion. I think it’s a very important, and sometimes beautiful, part of the fabric of our lives… the ability to believe in whatever deity we wish, or in nothing. To worship how we see fit, or not at all. To raise our children according to our beliefs, whether they be in a God, or in the value of humanity, or in Fred the Turtle. That’s part of what makes a society a functioning one, and gives people avenues of seeking comfort and centering and community.
But what happens when you put religious beliefs up to scrutiny?
Bring religion into the public square and put it on par with politics and policy, and it will be subject to debate and debunking, to charges of hypocrisy and attempted theocracy and more besides. Does this mean I think the religious should just shut up and keep silent? Not at all. It’s just that when people attempt to legislate their morality, that morality, and the stated basis for it, will be put under a microscope.
If religious institutions take money directly from the Federal Government, and not through a firewalled secular setup, eventually their books, their teachings, their uses, their schools, programs and so forth will be under public comment and oversight. There will be charges of corruption and actual corruption, and few will care which is which. And there will be pushes from one side or another, even within the religious communities, to limit this or modify that or dispense with the other thing altogether. Compliance, you see.
But, these are the adults, and they know what they are getting into.
Reason #2. You don’t want me, or someone like me, discussing religion with your children in school.
I’ll stand with any of the religious, although I have no religion of my own, in order to protect their right to believe as they see fit. And to worship in their churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, woods, whatever.
But remember… I, and others like me, do not necessarily believe as you do.
Teach your children the tenets of your religious and other beliefs at home, or in the religious venues. Let them be taught reading, writing, math and science at school. Let them be taught about all the great religions, and their historical significances, in classes set up for that. But not the doctrine. The doctrine belongs in the hands of those that believe.
If you put religious beliefs under the microscope of logic, rationality, science in schools; if you seek comparisons between the beliefs of Creationism and the scientific theories of evolution; if you take the beauty that is faith and pit it against the harsh reality of fact, only one will survive intact.
Take a child’s belief in the impossible, the improbable and show them that it is also unprovable, take each part of doctrine and slice it up into tiny pieces for observation and testing and hold it up to the light of rational thinking, and soon you will be left with children who question the very bedrock of their faith. And fewer children following in the faith of their monthers and fathers.
Most people reach adulthood having, usually in their younger years, questioned their religious beliefs, if they had any, or tested them against science or logic, some way, regardless. They either make the decision to never believe in a religion, throw their former beliefs off entirely or partially, or to continue with the religion because faith requires no proof. That is the essence of faith.
This questioning is not a bad thing… in its place and in its time. If you want me, or someone like me, to start your children on the road to questioning when they are quite young, I don’t mind. If you want me, or someone like me, to put their faith to the test, to ask them to justify a belief in something they cannot see, hear, or prove, I don’t mind. Send them into the public school, the open forum, the state’s hands to have their religious views challenged.
Just don’t forget to be on the lookout for that train…