Saturday, September 03, 2011

We should stand up for what we believe

From The American Spectator:

Most people view the anti-Catholicism faced by John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential campaign as a prejudice they are glad our nation has left behind. Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times, is obviously not one of those people. His recent "Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith," if taken seriously by its readers, would re-instill the fear that any presidential candidate of faith would subsume their decision-making to the religious authority that they embrace.

It's strange that Keller would encourage such questions since he confesses, "I still remember, as a Catholic boy, being mystified and hurt by the speculation about John Kennedy's Catholicism -- whether he would be taking orders from the Vatican." It seems that the good sense of his adolescence has been lost, possibly by his years of worshiping at the altar of secular sophistication.

Keller's particular concerns are the "weird" Mormonism of Romney and Huntsman, the "fervid" evangelicalism of Bachmann and Perry, and the "conservative wing of Catholicism" supposedly represented by Santorum. Regarding Catholicism, the faith in which Keller was raised, he explicitly raises the issue faced by JFK five decades ago -- the separation of Church and State.

The level of furious mis-logic in Keller's article explains much about the decline of the newspaper under his leadership and his upcoming departure to the op-ed page. But, importantly, it represents a powerful segment of the Democratic Party elite that views the continued prevalence of traditional religious beliefs in the U.S. as the chief obstacle to its ideological aims.


Keller poses three questions each of the GOP presidential candidates should answer -- on whether public schools should teach evolution; whether the U.S. is a "Christian nation"; and whether Muslims should be appointed to the federal bench.

The authors of the AmSpec piece, Deal W Hudson and Matt Smith, believe:

Following Keller's recommendation would only trivialize the political conversation heading toward the 2012 election. But Keller evidently sees an upside in creating a religious sideshow that would alienate moderates, a doubtful assumption, since those same moderates weren't affected by Obama's twenty years at the feet of a pastor like Jeremiah Wright.

However I tend to disagree. I think that answering those questions from a conservative perspective would help rather than hurt a candidate.  Here is how I would address each of them:

Q: Should public schools teach evolution?
A: Yes.  Public schools should give students a good grounding in the theory of evolution including the problems the theory faces such as the lack of transitional forms.  The fact that the fossil record shows large numbers of species appearing suddenly and remaining stable for million and millions of years should be explained.  The theories which have been put forward such as the "hopeful monster theory" (where a lizard lays an egg and a bird or mammal hatches from it) should be explored and it should be revealed to the students that science has absolutely no naturalistic explanation for how the massive amounts of information (terabytes worth of data) that would be needed to transform one species into another just "appear" seemingly out of nowhere.  It should be made clear to the students that the neo-darwinian synthesis is not supported by the current scientific data and that no theory which both relies only upon naturalistic processes and has any empirical evidence to support it has been advanced to replace it.  My approach does not call for teaching biblical creationism, or any other religion's "origin story".  It does not even call for teaching the theory of intelligent design.  It simply requires the schools to tell students the truth about the current state of evolutionary theory rather than engage in an intellectual whitewash.

Q: Is the US a "Christian nation"?
A: In the sense that most Americans identify themselves as Christian yes.  In the sense that America has an official state religion no.  The Constitution forbids the government from establishing a state church and from preventing any person from practicing their religion as their conscience dictates.  Provided they harm no one else of course.  You may speak in tongues all you wish, but you can't give a rattlesnake to a child to handle.  You can go to synagogue but you can't stone people who break the sabbath.  You can pray toward Mecca five times per day but you can't cut the head off a woman who refuses to wear a head covering.  The real question is what the Framers intended to prohibit in the Establishment Clause.  Did they really mean that it was an illegal "establishment of religion" to allow a voluntary student led prayer at a high school event such as a football game?  Did they really mean that allowing a local church to put a manger scene on the courthouse lawn at Christmas (or a synagogue to set up menorah at Hanukkah)  was the same thing as setting up a taxpayer funded Church of the United States?  I believe that the answer to those questions is absolutely not.  If it were otherwise they would not have created the positions of Chaplin for the House and Senate and would not have chosen to open congress with prayer.  They would not have chosen to open sessions of the Supreme Court with a bailiff shouting "God save the United States and this honorable Court!".

Q: Should a Muslim be appointed to the federal bench?
A: Yes, provided they meet the same standards that any other federal judge should be held to.  Those standards are an appropriate education and adequate experience and a record which shows an unwavering commitment to the principles of originalism.  In other words I could care less about the race, sex, religion or national origin of a judge if I believe that he or she will be what amounts to a judicial clone of Clarence Thomas.  I don't care if he is a black atheist from Zimbabwe if he will rule that the Second Amendment means that any citizen has the right to carry a firearm, openly or concealed, any place where they have a legal right to be and I don't care if she is a lesbian Wiccan whose mother was a Pacific Islander and whose father was Puerto Rican if she will rule that the Commerce Clause means absolutely nothing other than that congress can prohibit one state from placing tariffs on the products from another state and that all laws predicated on any other interpretation of the Commerce Clause are null and void.

The left is attempting not so much to drive God from the public square (they don't believe in God so as far as they are concerned He isn't there to begin with) but to drive people of faith from participation in the public life of the nation.  It is time that religious people fought back by openly and unapologetically acknowledging their faith.  Surveys show that the majority of people in the US do not believe in the blind materialistic theory of evolution, do not support government actions like the removal of the San Diego cross and take no offense at prayer at public events provided that it is not aggressively sectarian.  Leftist elites who show their contempt for America's religious heritage are also showing their contempt for ordinary Americans.  A candidate who calls the elites on that contempt will find themselves backed by a substantial majority of the American people.