The War on the Establishment Clause

Via Lance Armstrong (really) who referred to this as "seriously scary," the New York Times published an extended piece this week about the Christian conservative war on the separation of church and state.

The latest epicenter appears to be Texas where Christian fundamentalists have been attempting to worm their beliefs into text books and school board curriculum, with their efforts revolving around redefining the framers of the Constitution as being very Christian. Which they weren't. They're also trying to get the more religious-sounding Declaration of Independence tied more closely to the Constitution. Which they shouldn't be.

This is probably the most salient counterpoint to this wrongheaded and disingenuous notion:

...when Steven K. Green, director of the Center for Religion, Law and Democracy at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., testified at the board meeting last month in opposition to the board’s approach to bringing religion into history, warning that the Supreme Court has forbidden public schools from “seeking to impress upon students the importance of particular religious values through the curriculum,” and in the process said that the founders “did not draw on Mosaic law, as is mentioned in the standards,” several of the board members seemed dumbstruck. Don McLeroy insisted it was a legitimate claim, since the Enlightenment took place in Europe, in a Christian context. Green countered that the Enlightenment had in fact developed in opposition to reliance on biblical law and said he had done a lengthy study in search of American court cases that referenced Mosaic law.

And to the extent that any of the founders were religious, they knew that the door could swing both ways. If religious zealots could shoehorn their dogma into secular law, then secular law could regulate religion. This point is the one I generally rely upon when debating Christian wingnuts who refuse to grasp the establishment clause. Essentially, they're insane to want the constitutional "wall of separation" to disappear. If the line is blurred, then it opens up the opportunity for the state to impose taxes and laws on what happens at the pulpit. Not smart.