Baby? What Baby?Mention religion these days at your peril. We are bombarded by images of Dominion takeover, court stacking, zealotry and the unsupportable Intelligent Design from one side, and belief of persecution, attack by secular hedonism and being the only party of faith by the other. We’ve been handed our positions by the dividers, not uniters; it’s time we lost the blinders.
It is no more true that all Republicans think Pat Robertson makes sense that it is that all Democrats are athiests.
Unquestioning acceptance of religious stereotypes according to party affiliation is a dangerous path. Entrenchment along these lines leaves little room for acceptance and growth, both as a nation and as individuals undertaking journeys of faith.
Jews are encouraged to constantly question their faith. Christians know that to rail against God is beginning of learning. Seeking, questioning, arguing and acceptance are part of every major faith on this planet. Most of those faiths are at home and welcome in their quest, here, in America.
An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them choose.
An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God. — Peter Ferrara, George Mason University School of Law
What I fear, and what motivates many faith based groups nationwide, is the potential backlash against religion caused by this insane manipulation of faiths for political gain; thowing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. When we see Intelligent Design stuck down in the courts, we need to maintain objectivity. This attempt to teach unsupportable theory should not be in the classroom; striking it down sent a great message. The message, incidently, is NOT religion is bad, go back and hide in your hole, you nut-jobs!
So what is the message? It’s simply that the steps towards faith need to be sought, questioned, argued and accepted elsewhere. School is not the venue. There is a place for religion in school, however, and its place in the curriculum is critical.
Human history is inexorably intertwined with the journeys, by billions, towards faith. The incredible gains in human interaction, the sorrowing loss of millions of lives due to religious manipulation and persecution, and the ability to grasp and understand inferences in literature and nuances in socialization cannot be understood fully unless some working knowledge of religious history is part of the student’s filter.
We need to be careful that in an effort to quash things like Intelligent Design, we lose site of the value of insightful coursework like “The Bible and Its Influence“.
Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, says the textbook, which is promoted as an examination of the Bible’s influence on
literature, art, history and culture, successfully keeps religion out of public schools. The center is a non-profit institute that promotes constitutional freedoms covered by the First Amendment.
“If you’re considering a Bible elective, look at this textbook,” says Haynes, who helped review a draft of the book with 41 other scholars, including Christians, Jews and agnostics. “They’ve done a Herculean effort to make it as constitutional as they could.” — USA Today
I happen to know quite a bit about this project, as a family member of mine did a large chunk of editing on it. The effort to keep a historical, verifiable perspective was paramount. I have a great deal of respect for this work; I hope my kids have an opportunity to tackle this coursework and the inevitable questions it will raise. I’m not afraid of questions. They’re part of the quest for knowledge. They are also a crucial part of testing and building faith.
The correct position to take with religion in schools is not to look at how to bend facts to conform to religion, but rather to study religion’s far reaching impact on the continual development of the human race. It’s in our art, our music, and our literature, it affects our perceptions, our decision making and the stucture of our society. God is, literally, everywhere.
Regardless of our personal stance on spirituality, we cannot deny the influence of religion on the development of individual and societal humanity. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated, intelligent and frequently faithful scholars such as those involved in “The Bible and Its Influence“, we can keep the growing baby and lose the stagnant bathwater.
Crossposted at Bring It On!