Faith-based Reporting

I don’t know about you, but I find it reassuring if my airline pilot has faith. I don’t really need to know what my pilot has faith in. That’s not necessary. Faith is a virtue that made our country great.

I find it reassuring that my President has faith. I don’t actually know where he goes to church, or how often, but he says he’s a Christian and that’s good enough for me. I have faith in him. When he is occasionally wrong, like when he launched an invasion of Iraq because they were about to send weapons of mass destruction to fall on American cities, or at least Israel, but it turned out there were none –well, anyone can make a mistake. The important thing is that he is a man of faith, not some heretical Anabaptist or something.

Faith is a lovely uplifting word. Say it out loud, don’t you feel exalted? Not like the word ‘religion’ which is such a downer. The Anabaptists claim to be a religion, and you know how they are.

If we admit that Faith-based means exactly the same thing as Religion-based we have to worry about exactly which religions our tax dollars are supporting. We might be uneasy about religions getting the government seal of approval. Or wonder exactly what those religions are doing with our tax dollars.

It was a stroke of genius to claim the word ‘faith’ as a political tool. Now when we use that word we are singing from the Republican Sanctified Hymnal. In Sunday’s New York Time a front page headline reads–‘A Teacher on the Front Line as Faith and Science Clash’. The story is about how difficult it is to teach evolution in a high school science class without getting burned at the stake. The problem isn’t faith.

No one knows what anyone else’s faith is. That’s between them and their conscience. The problem is religion — religion that organizes politically to impose its rules on everyone else because a majority can throw its weight around, religion that wants to make itself the official American creed. And if science is a problem, just censor science to fit religion. It’s been done before.

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11 responses

  1. A belief in a Creator and religion have nothing to do with each other.For that matter any kind of spirituality and religion are likewise not two peas in a pod.religion has been a control device through the ages,but most believers in a religion are completely sincere.
    That said I get very ticked off at the ACLU always trying to find something”chilling”about expressions of religious belief on public property,or Christmas carols in schools.As long as no one is FORCING me to adopt their beliefs I feel not the least bit threatened by their expression in any venue.

  2. I was once the only person in a church who didn’t stand to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior. the occasion was the funeral of an 18 year old boy who was murdered in a drive-by shooting. I was there to pay my respects, not to convert to another religion.
    when the children sing christmas carols in schools what happens to the Jews, and even the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have religious objections to the christmas holidays? when you consider how many christians there are in this state it’s interesting how few put up a manger scene on their own lawn, or even in front of their church.

  3. I don’t know,Nancy-I was raised Jewish(it didn’t take very well)and I always liked Christmas carols.Being a minority doesn’t mean you get to call the tune,but you shouldn’t be forced to dance to it either.I just get aggravated with all the people who spend their time looking for ways to be offended.I see no need to turn things on their head because one or two people are offended by something that has been traditional,as long as it is something that is not outright derogatory to a particular racial/religious/ethnic group.

  4. Unfortunately, the major problem with teaching “evolution” in High School all too frequently is not so much the creationist or the intelligent design folks and their views, but public school teachers who really are not adequately trained in biology, geology or anthropology. What results is the kids getting a mixture of errors and history in all areas and a complete mess of what biological evolution is all about and the inforomation that is available. Sometimes, they may be asked to read a Steve Gould essay. In general, Physics and Chemistry are managed better, but for different reasons.

  5. Joe, my question on this always is: how would you feel if you went to a secular event and were asked to pray to Allah? Or Vishnu?

    Yes, for most of its history, this country was overwhelmingly Christian. But that’s not so much true any more. If you’re OK with mixing religion with the state, then it seems like the religion has to be inclusive, not exclusive.

    Because let’s not pretend here: the activists in favor of mixing religion and politics are largely Christians, and they want to advance their Christian agenda, whatever that is.

    And for Mr W, yes, many HS science teachers aren’t really qualified to teach geology or anthropology effectively. So let’s not muddy the waters by throwing in “creation science” or “intelligent design” or whatever the latest code word for creationism is. You want to teach the Judeo-Christian creation story in HS? Fine. Do it in a comparative lit class, and read what the Hindus say, or the Aztecs, or the Bantu and throw in a few others.

  6. Klaus-do you feel that you suffer from a lack of freedom?This queation is not asked in a smart alecky way.I sure don’t-I don’t feel limited or oppressed in any way.And the question has been changed a little by you.I don’t think anyone should HAVE to pray at any public event,but neither should they be prevented.
    People do not have a right not to be offended in a free society.I am sure you don’t object to flag-burning even though many people find it very offensive.
    if a benediction is given at a graduation,those present who don’t believe in it can ignore it.If they were forced to join in ,that would indeed be unconstitutional.
    I have had it with “civil libertarians”like the ACLU:1st amendment,5th amendment,4th amendment-VERY important.2nd amendmant,10th amendment-huh,what?no,not very important.There is Steven Brown for you-every week in this state we have the “Steven Brown hour” when the non-lawyer twit from Barrington finds another “outrageous” violation of rights.You’d think Rhode Island was Beijing to listen to his whining.
    Klaus-don’t you get it?You can say anything you want publicly about the government as long as you don’t threaten someone’s life or incite a riot.George Bush has been taken to the woodshed nonstop by so many people-has anyone been thrown in a dungeon for it?

  7. Klaus-freedom of religion in strictly Islamic countries is prohibited-being a Bahai or Zoroastrian(original Persian religion)can bring a death sentence in Iran.Worse than being a Jew,if you can believe that.

  8. the point is that freedom of religion is precious, and inviting particular religous organizations to enjoy special access to our politicians compromises that freedom. remember Billy Graham in the White House?
    now there is an opportunity for a political party to reward a church that gets out the votes for the party. they call it Faith.
    Faith is a conveniently vague word that masks the simple truth. Money is being disbursed to religious organizations for social sevices with little oversight and special exemptions from the rules that other social service organizations have to follow. Don’t look to closely at that, you just have to have Faith.
    As far as public display, there are some very beautiful churches, synagogues and mosques in our state that enrich our community way more than a manger and santa by the bus stop in pawtucket.

  9. Unfortunately, there is a gap in what science is or isn’t, what terms such as biological evolution, phylogeny, etc., really mean to a scientist, and what is taught in the majority of public schools. Indeed, those who profess significance to “creationism,” “a young earth,” or “Intelligent design,” are frequently well versed in some of the “stuff” of science (without the meaning), and are much better prepared than the average biology teacher, or earth science teacher with an education degree. Of course the answer is to have those teachers who teach science receive undergraduate degrees in the science they profess, and at a High School level, an MS or MA would be desireable.

    Klaus seems to have the issues back to front, and it is logical not to “mix” (as in confuse) the philosophy of religion or the historicity of any religious belief set, with science (physical, natural or biological) at all. By the same logic, why would anyone want public school teachers to deal with religious issues to begin with. One would not think they would be any better trained in comparative religions than they are in science.

  10. it’s been said that evolution in progress can be seen in the success of drug-resistant pathogens. the bacteria evolve to resist antibiotics. with their short lifetimes we can see this over a few decades instead of thousands of years.

  11. The development of resistant bacterial strains may not always be the result of a “new” organism. As in most traits, in any population of bacteria, some members may be more resistant to a particular antibiotic that others. The antibiotic will kill more of the less resistant types than the resitant individuals. Bacterial multiply by division and more of the rersistant types will be produced and over time will become the dominant bacterium. This kind of “natural selection” is the vore of classic Darwinian evolution, namely differential reproduction. Of course a favorable adaptation can also occur by mutation, where a change occurs randomly (by error) in a gene or genes.

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