Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Which Founding Father will the Texas Education Agency Axe Next?

Contrary to popular opinion I don’t hate Christians. That I am an atheist is true enough. But, just because I choose to live a life without gods does not mean that I hate those who choose to live according to the will of their imaginary friend. It’s not the Christians that I hate, but rather a large portion of their agendas that cause me to take umbrage. Think of my attitude as an atheist version of loving the sinner, but hating the sin.

I would also be remiss in not pointing out that when I speak of Christianity I am really speaking mostly of the evangelical far right in this country as well as my native religion of Roman Catholicism. Their political agendas and conservative ideologies are anti-human and anti-reason and just flat out bad for the world. Even if I did believe in god I would have to reject any faith whose deity put his own needs and desires over that of his creation as does the Judeo-Christian god.

Liberal Christians such as Sojourners Jim Wallis (I have never actually conversed with Wallis), tend to favor similar ideas to me regarding social justice and economic equality that I find it much easier to enter into mutually respectful and productive dialogue with them. Even though I will disagree with the irrational nature of their religious beliefs there is enough common ground from which we can build bridges. We can move forward together without their religion and my lack of faith being a stumbling block. We are at least “humanists” in that we share an enduring concern over humanity and espouse values that will advance these causes.

The problem with the far right is that they have abdicated reason from which common sense solutions can be pursued. They deny facts and willfully alter history to suit their agenda. The Texas education board’s recent ban on Thomas Jefferson is an excellent case in point. Let’s forget that Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, which provided the philosophical impetus for the American Revolution; let’s forget that he was the third president of our fledgling democratic republic. Delete Jefferson because he doesn’t seem to fit into the far right’s myopic and incorrect view of American History. Delete Jefferson because he was a sympathetic deist who considered Jesus to be just a mere man – a good teacher and not the resurrected god-man of the far right’s puerile faith.

One cannot talk of American history and the philosophy that our nation is based on without studying at length Thomas Jefferson. Who is next to be deleted? Benjamin Franklin? If there was ever a drunken whore mongering reprobate in American history it would be Franklin. He should be rejected on religious moral principals alone. What about John Adams? He often was at odds with his colleagues. The irascible little deist was the gadfly who nipped and bit prompting us to seek liberty. If ever a voice was raised for liberty, justice and equality it was John Adams. Without the combined voices of these three men we could put together a convincing argument that there may never have been an American revolution…at least not as it happened.

So who will be the next founding father to be denied his place in the canon of American history by the religious right? My bet is James Madison the driving force behind the 1st Amendment and a staunch guardian of the separation of Church and State. I can imagine Texas Republican David Bradley ,who seems to be among an increasing number of conservatives who are skeptical regarding our constitutional separation church and state, leading the charge.

Mr. Bradley recently stated, “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state.” He has put up a $1,000.00 dollars to be donated to the charity of your choice for the individual who can find it {separation of church and state} in the constitution for him.

I would like to claim that grand for Atheist Nexus by sending David Bradley a copy of the 1st Amendment. It would be interesting to see how he manages to evade the truth. An amendment to the constitution, by definition, makes it a part of the constitution. That our nation’s founders sought to create the first modern secular democratic republic is quite obvious if one just bothers to actually read. There is no denying this.

David Bradley and his colleagues can reject the separation of church and state all they want. But, it doesn’t change facts. But, that is always been the problem. The religious right doesn’t like facts. If it’s not in the bible than it just isn’t so as far as they are concerned. They force the facts to fit their worldview deleting what contradicts it and flat out denying it rather than amending their views to fit the evidence at hand.

The problem is that, as Dan McLeroy, another Texas conservative behind the recent curriculum change, believes that they are adding “balance.” But, in fact what they are doing is attempting to eliminate anything that counters their very narrow worldview. In the absence of credible evidence reasonable people change their views. The members of the far right simply erase the evidence we do have. That’s not balance. That’s propaganda at the very least. It makes them liars and untrustworthy.

Forget for a moment that for the next few years Texas students will be poorly educated the implications of what the likes of Bradley and McLeroy are doing are both frightening and staggering. I am not one to throw around the term fascism. What fascism truly is, most often than not, is misunderstood by both the left and the right in this country. However, what members of the Texas Board of Education recently did carries with it the seeds of fascism. Their ideology is the very basis from which the authoritarian ultra conservative and ultra nationalistic ideology of fascism is based on. Reason would seem like our best defense, but you can’t reason with people who reject the very notion of reasoning itself. This is what makes them so damn scary.

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