I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

And we think we have a church-state separation problem!

A New York Times article says,

KOLOMNA, Russia — One of the most discordant debates in Russian society is playing out in public schools like those in this city not far from Moscow, where the other day a teacher named Irina Donshina set aside her textbooks, strode before her second graders and, as if speaking from a pulpit, posed a simple question:

“Whom should we learn to do good from?”

“From God!” the children said.

“Right!” Ms. Donshina said . . .

. . . . Nearly two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the return of religion to public life, localities in Russia are increasingly decreeing that to receive a proper public school education, children should be steeped in the ways of the Russian Orthodox Church, including its traditions, liturgy and historic figures.

The lessons are typically introduced at the urging of church leaders, who say the enforced atheism of Communism left Russians out of touch with a faith that was once at the core of their identity . . . .

. . . .Opponents assert that the Russian Orthodox leadership is weakening the constitutional separation of church and state by proselytizing in public schools. They say Russia is a multiethnic, pluralistic nation and risks alienating its large Muslim minority if Russian Orthodoxy takes on the trappings of a state religion.

Also, in regard to evolution education, a report of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly said,

66. In Russia in February 2007, a young 16-year-old girl and her father brought an action against the Ministry of Education and Science because they did not accept the fact that the school biology textbooks only offer one theory, that of evolution, which, they said, was incompatible with their beliefs. The plaintiffs were supported by members of the Russian Orthodox Church. . . . . Father Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy head of the Department of External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, deplores the ideological character of the theory of evolution, which has been the only theory taught in Russian schools since the Soviet era.

Ironically, the addition of "under god" to the pledge of allegiance and the requirement that the motto "In God We Trust" appear on all US money (it had appeared on US coins off and on since 1864) were mid-1950's reactions to the "godlessness" of Soviet communism. Despite decades of atheistic Communism, the Russians are today much less phobic of government endorsement of religion than we are. In the USA, the courts have banned things with religious connotations even where there have been secular purposes. Federal judges in Pennsylvania (Kitzmiller v. Dover) and Georgia (Selman v. Cobb County) banned the mere mention of criticisms of Darwinism in public school science classes on the grounds that such mention is interpreted by some people as a government endorsement of religion. Los Angeles County removed a tiny cross from the county seal because of a threat of a lawsuit from the ACLU. I am not in favor of a return to school prayer -- in fact I am strongly opposed to it -- but IMO it is clear that the USA has gone off the deep end on the church-state separation thing. The Supreme Court said in Lynch v. Donnelly,

The Court has sometimes described the Religion Clauses as erecting a "wall" between church and state, see, e.g., Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 18 (1947). The concept of a "wall" of separation is a useful figure of speech probably deriving from views of Thomas Jefferson. The metaphor has served as a reminder that the Establishment Clause forbids an established church or anything approaching it. But the metaphor itself is not a wholly accurate description of the practical aspects of the relationship that in fact exists between church and state.

No significant segment of our society, and no institution within it, can exist in a vacuum or in total or absolute isolation from all the other parts, much less from government. "It has never been thought either possible or desirable to enforce a regime of total separation. . . ." Committee for Public Education & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756, 760 (1973). Nor does the Constitution require complete separation of church and state; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any. See, e.g., Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 314, 315 (1952); Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 211 (1948). Anything less would require the "callous indifference" we have said was never intended by the Establishment Clause. Zorach, supra, at 314. Indeed, we have observed, such hostility would bring us into "war with our national tradition as embodied in the First Amendment's guaranty of the free exercise of religion." McCollum, supra, at 211-212.

For more info on the evolution controversy abroad, click on the post label below (this post label is also in the sidebar).
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1 Comments:

Blogger Moulton said...

Separation of Church and State

Sunday, September 23, 2007 3:36:00 PM  

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