Thomas Talks Sense?
I'm a little pressed for time today, so the periodical survey will continue tomorrow. In the meanime have a look at this surprisingly sensible column from right-wing pundit Cal Thomas. He writes:
The decision by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III to bar the teaching of “intelligent design” in the Dover, Pennsylvania public school district on grounds it is a thinly veiled effort to introduce a religious view of the world's origins is welcome for at least two reasons.
First, it exposes the sham attempt to take through the back door what proponents have no chance of getting through the front door. Judge Jones rebuked advocates of “intelligent design,” saying they repeatedly lied about their true intentions. He noted many of them had said publicly that their intent was to introduce into the schools a biblical account of creation. Judge Jones properly wondered how people who claim to have such strong religious convictions could lie, thus violating prohibitions in the Book they proclaim as their source of truth and standard for living.
Wow! Couldn't have said it any better myself. And I love the sneer quotes around intelligent design.
These paragraphs are all the more remarkable considering that Thomas is a proud member of the religious right. He is not happy that, for example, prayer has been removed from the public school. But he also believes that Christians make a mistake when they make political power their goal, as this inevitably leads to a corruption of the Christian principles they originally sought to uphold.
This leads to the second reason for welcoming Judge Jones' ruling. It should awaken religious conservatives to the futility of trying to make a secular state reflect their beliefs. Too many people have wasted too much time and money since the 1960s, when prayer and Bible reading were outlawed in public schools, trying to get these and a lot of other things restored. The modern secular state should not be expected to teach Genesis 1, or any other book of the Bible, or any other religious text.
That the state once did such things, or at least did not undermine what parents taught their children, is irrelevant. The culture in which we now live no longer reflects the beliefs of our grandparents' generation. For better, or for worse (and a strong case can be made that things are much worse), people who cling to the beliefs of previous generations have been given another chance to do what they should have been doing all along.
Again, well said.
So what should religious conservatives have been doing all along? Home schooling their kids, or placing them in prviate school, of course. And even here, I agree with him. In general I'm highly skeptical of home schooling, and I think all too often it's merely a device for brainwashing children into accepting truly bizarre religious beliefs. I would prefer that every one support the public schools. Frankly, I think that would go a long way towards solving some of the problems the public schools face. But I am enough of a libertarian to accept that in a free society the government can not kidnap your child for most of the day and force him to attend a government run school.
If you really can't abide the idea that sending your kid to public school will result in his exposure to ideas you find objectionable, then the proper response is, indeed, to home school him (or find a private school you can tolerate). What you do not do is try to use the power of the government to promote your preferred religious beliefs. And you definitely don't get to corrupt science education to bring it line with whatever fairy tales you happen to believe.