Friday, December 10, 2004

Banning the Declaration

Have you been following this story? Essentially, a teacher named Steven Williams who teaches in Cupertino, California, wanted to hand out a bunch of blatantly proselytizing material to his class, such as this example here, in which the he gives the kids an assignment to read the Bible. Other pages in the packet included fake quotes from the founding fathers supporting the Bible and Christianity. The principal, as was his duty under the Constitution, said no. Williams sued.

It turns out that this Mr. Williams is one sly devil. You see, he included the Declaration of Independence in his sheaf of pro-God literature.

So, now, the headline is: "Declaration of Independence Banned." This, despite the fact that copies of the Declaration appear in a number of classrooms and various other displays in the school. Despite the supposedly liberal nature of the media, the media has failed, by and large, to make the distinction that the Declaration was just part of a blatantly religious sheaf of papers the principal the principal told Williams not to use. The Declaration was never at issue. The issue was assignments like, "Start reading Luke, chapter 22, and continue to the end of the book of Luke."

But, by slipping the Declaration in there, conservatives can run around with their hands in the air shouting, "Now those damned atheists have banned the Declaration because it mention God! The world is ending if we don't put God back into the schools!" Yet another brilliant tactic. Hypocritical and deceptive, but brilliant.

It's because of stuff like this that I have absolutely no sympathy or time for people like my mother who claim that the Christians are just fighting for their religious rights and aren't fighting to turn American into a theocracy. When you start using tricks like this to force your religion into the schools in order to convert children, there is absolutely no doubt that what the Christian agenda is here. Mr. Williams has intentionally provoked a fight under false pretenses with the intention of tearing down the wall of separation of church and state. He would have us living under a Christian version of the Taliban rather than enjoying religious freedom as we do now.

Unfortunately, too many people refuse to recognize what is happening. No matter how strong the evidence* that there is a powerful effort afoot to turn America into a Christian theocracy, there are those people, regular people who don't want to live in a theocracy, who will give the Christian right the benefit of the doubt to the point of no return. They will never see what the true agenda of the Christian right is until it is too late.

Some shy away from parallels with Nazi Germany, but I am a student of Naziism and the parallels are just too strong to ignore. We saw the same phenomena of refusal to see what was going on in Germany in the 1930s. Even though Hitler had proclaimed his intentions in Mein Kampf and journalists working at papers the Nazis dubbed "poison kitchen" were furiously writing about what the Nazis were really doing, by and large the populace simply refused to believe it. It doesn't matter how clear enemies of freedom make their intentions, it is difficult to roust people from their laziness, complacency, or, dare I say, stupidity, until it is too late.

Freedom is not free. The failure of societies to recognize and deal with threats to freedom coming from inside, instead of outside, is the way free societies fall.

*While living in Texas, I attended a training event held in an evangelical church. On the walls of the classrooms were posters which blatantly called for an overthrow of "secular society" in America to be replaced by a Christian theocracy. The evidence is hidded in plain sight. Only by refusing to believe that Christians can be this devious can you ignore it. Let me clear it up: They are.


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