Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The enemy shall not outwit (anyone)

So the Supreme Court has ruled. The Ten Commandments statue can sit on the lawn of the Texas State Capitol because it is just one of many religious symbols scattered around the place. And the so-called "evangelical" christians of the nation are heartened by the ruling. According to the Washington Post, "Within hours of yesterday's Supreme Court decision allowing a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol, christian groups announced a nationwide campaign to install similar displays in 100 cities and towns within a year."

It's either bizarre or fortuitous that today I received that tired old crock of an e-mail chain letter (they call it a petition) about the FCC and Madeline Murray O'Hare and the cancellation of "Touched By an Angel" and all other TV programs that mention "god" (the "petition" has been costing us all a fortune for years by clogging the internet). That scurrilous piece of anti-intellectual smut asserts, among other things, that our Constitution is based on the Ten Commandments.

So, I suppose, the Supreme Court erred in its decision. A statue of the Ten Commandments may be ensconced in public places not because it is one of many religious symbols, but because it is the basis of our Constitution. Right.

The enemy shall not outwit them!

I won't even dignify that nonsense with a response except to say that I looked for an Article of the Constitution that mentions my neighbor's ass, either coveting it or lusting after it, to no avail. Never mind the obvious fact that the Constitution doesn't mention God or the Bible or Jesus or any of those things the "evangelical" christians believe it does.

My response is simply to point out a great op-ed piece in the Dallas Morning News, of all places. William McKenzie says in today's (June 28) DMN, "...evangelicals need more serious thinkers. Because of the anti-intellectualism found in some [some?] corners of evangelicalism, the movement has NO [emphasis added] abundance of 'ideas people' sharpening its message. Without them, evangelicals are left with radio hosts like James Dobson and TV talking heads like Pat Robertson to guide their thinking about the larger world. They need more scholars... It's hard to find many [ANY?] evangelicals providing that level [the level of Rheinhold Niebuhr] of thought, or even critiquing their own."

Even such conservative luminaries as Tom Krannawitter ("Establishment Clause is Misunderstood," letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2000) and James Eastman ("Morality Without God?" Los Angeles Daily Journal, July 31, 2001) ---both from the illustrious Claremont Institute---use such shoddy logic and such sweeping generalizations about religion in American life that first-year university students can see through their arguments.

This anti-intellectualism in the "evangelical" church, not the overweening pride of their beliefs, is what ultimately will destroy Constitutional government in this country if progressive and main-line Christians and other sensible people do not continue to make themselves heard more and more eloquently and persistently.