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Final Draft

Censored Christ

Matthew Kalland English 121 Professor Kate Guthrie December 2, 2011

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Abstract Current trends have been to adopt a policy of blanket exclusion of religious representation from the public sector. This is the result of misinterpretation of cultural and legal ideals. The concept of separation of Church and State has taken on a meaning opposite of its original intent. Freedom of religion is thought to provide more protection than it actually does for religious practitioners. The Theory of Evolution is seen to be at odds with Creationism. Although supposedly applied fairly, Christianity has become the focus of this religious separation. The main focus of these misinterpretations has become the censorship of Christianity.

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Censored Christ The current trends to remove religion from public institutions attempt to adopt a faade of fairness by supposing a blanket exclusion of all religious reference or connotation in secular education, or anything else associated with government. Proponents of censoring religious connotation from schools or government institutions, particularly in America, always like to allude to the lofty ideal of separation of Church and state. Opponents are quick to jump on freedom of religion as their bastion of defense. Most of the time, the argument then somehow ends up circling the drain of the debate over Creationism versus the Theory of Evolution. On the former issue, many legal battles have been waged with varying results alternately benefiting one side or the other. Opinions vary and the debate goes on but the controversy has taken on the sinister undertone of singling out Christianity as the religion to be removed. Removing religion from public institutions has become a thinly veiled campaign to specifically censor Christianity. I myself am not a regular churchgoer nor could I be considered a devout anything or other. But, my upbringing was in a Christian Baptist fundamental environment overseas in the Philippines. Both my parents were ordained ministers and our family history is full of pastors. I must say I rebelled viciously against my upbringing and still do quite a bit to this day, to the chagrin of my relatives. That being said, focusing more on secular life, my rejection of my upbringing did not make me the outcast I had feared. Instead, it made my lifestyle more publically acceptable, both socially, and as an American in general. This was surprising as America has a reputation as one of the most Protestant Christian nations in the world. This raised a curiosity to objectively examine the dichotomy of the current (forgive the pun) state of Church and State. Observation and research has led to the conclusions shared here with you.

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There is an egregious amount of convoluted debate and controversy concerning religion and politics in general, and Christianitys role in this in particular. The main foci can be broken down into three points: 1. The Constitutionality of the separation of Church and State both abroad and here in America. 2. The freedom of Religion guaranteed in America by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. 3. The contradiction of teaching Evolutionary science and the ideology of Christian Creationism. Although there is a great deal of unavoidable crossover in these categories, this article will attempt to separate these entanglements as much as possible. Constitutionality of separation of Church and State The way in which Americans render unto Caesar the things which are Caesars, and to God the things which are Gods (Matthew 22:21) has been a unending source for political, legal, and social conflict in the United States. This has really only been an issue for the last half of the twentieth century leading up to now (Jelen & Wilcox, 1995 p. 5). One of the most compelling arguments widely used as a hacksaw for the removal of religious associations in public institutions is the concept of separation of Church and State. To most people in modern times, particularly Americans, the separation of Church and State is taken to mean that organized religious bodies should keep their noses out of politics because their agendas are biased by their strong beliefs (Curry, 2001 p.72). Of course the last thing anyone would want involved in politics is someone with a biased agenda. Their support for a high wall of separation may be in

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fact their rejection of an official endorsement of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition(Jelen & Wilcox, 1995 p.61). But this was not at all the focus of philosophers and proponents of the age of reason when they discussed separating religion from politics. The concept of separating church and state is often credited to English philosopher, and of one of the Renaissance Enlightenment eras most influential thinkers, John Locke. Locke, writing his Letters Concerning Toleration (168992) in the aftermath of the European wars of religion, formulated a classic reasoning for religious tolerance. His three central arguments were/are: (1) Earthly judges, the state in particular, and human beings generally, cannot dependably evaluate the truth-claims of competing religious standpoints; (2) Even if they could, enforcing a single "true religion" would not have the desired effect, because belief cannot be compelled by violence; (3) Coercing religious uniformity would lead to more social disorder than allowing diversity. His work had a great impact upon the development of epistemology and political philosophy. Thomas J. Curry, colonial historian, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, author of The First Freedoms: Church and State in America to the Passage of the First Amendment (1986) and, most recently, Farewell to Christendom: The Future of Church and State in America (2001 p.8) said it best: Modern Church-State discussion has been based on the following misassumptions: that the free exercise of religion is the equivalent of religious toleration; that members of the First Congress disputed the definition of establishment of religion; that the Free Exercise and No Establishment provisions of the First Amendment serve differing purposes and exist in tension with each other; that the amendment deals with

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government aid to or hindrance of religion; and that it requires government to maintain a neutral stance between assisting or impeding religion, between religion and non-religion, and between differing religions. These misassumptions proceed from a mindset essentially derived from Christendom. Modern attempts to build a wall, to draw a line, to define a boundary between Church and State replicate the perennial struggle of Christendom to separate the secular and the sacred into their proper spheres, even though the First Amendment was designed to end that long conflict by proclaiming an end to Christendom in America. The exact phrase, "wall of separation between church and state," is usually associated with Thomas Jefferson, as written in his letter to the Danbury Baptists Association in 1802. At first glance this sounds like a valid rationale from a great learned American patriot, clearly sending a message to one of the aforementioned Christian churches that we so desperately should seek separation from. It is also widely taken out of context. The original text reads: "...I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Jefferson wasnt talking about taking religion out of government; he was talking about freeing religion from governmental interference. Quite the opposite of how the term is used most often now. A study released in July by the First Amendment Center found that two-thirds of Americans believe that the Constitution mandates a separation between church and state.

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Many Americans are unaware that the phrase "separation of church and state" itself does not even appear in the United States Constitution. The First Amendment of the American Constitution does state though that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This has not stopped them from doing so, however. A famed example would be the legal controversy over the LDS (Latter-day Saints) Churchs former practice of practice of polygamy (or plural marriage). A most tragic example would probably be the Waco Siege of 1993 on the property (known as the Mount Carmel Center) near Waco, Texas, by the ATF, FBI, and Texas National Guard, which resulted in the deaths of the Branch Davidians leader, David Koresh, as well as 82 other Branch Davidians and 4 ATF agents. The latter concept of separation has been adopted in a number of countries in Europe that have a historical basis in Christianity. France for instance, has had since the 19th century a similar but typically stricter principle of lacit (pronounced [la.isite]), which has meant the freedom of public institutions, especially primary schools, specifically from the influence of the Catholic Church in countries where it had retained its influence, in the context of a secularization process. Today, lacit has officially been expanded to cover other religious movements as well, as an afterthought, but it was meant at first to keep the Catholic Church out. Legality aside, on school campuses across America one can see traditional religious dress from Islam, Judaism, the occasional Shinto or Native American trapping. Officials at Fort Bragg in North Carolina have agreed to allow an atheist soldier to hold a secularist music festival at an outdoor venue on the military installation, reversing an earlier decision that confined the event to a small, indoor auditorium (Church and State, Sep. 2011). Expression of ones culture and heritage is encouraged and all manner of programs are set up to celebrate diversity, unless you

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are Christian. A Christian saying they will pray for you is considered offensive. In a letter to two high schools within the Klein Independent School District, AU attorneys advised the district that inclusion of prayers at commencement violates Supreme Court precedent (Church and State Sep. 2011). Prayer meetings would not be allowed on the grounds and good luck of ever seeing a performance of the Easter Story. Even the pledge of allegiance has been removed for the phrase, under God, even though that little bit was purposefully added to the pledge after it was written. Many books have been banned from schools because of what is now considered objectionable, racist, sexist, or obscene material. Even sex education is something that usually requires parental permission. Only Christian texts are as often restricted. First Amendment freedom of religion in the in America In the United States, almost no legislative text is held as more sacred and used as often as a rallying cry worthy of face-paint and speeches from horseback, than the First Amendment to the Constitution. The First Amendment (or Amendment I) to the United States Constitution heads the Bill of Rights in that special number one slot that holds such an important numerical significance to the American psyche. The amendment itself is supposed to prohibit the making of any law that would limit or control an establishment of religion, impeding the free practice of religion, limiting the freedom of speech and of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. This is mirrored in international law the freedom of religion and belief is supposed to be protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). When asked whether the First Amendment requires a clear separation of church and state, 67 percent of respondents said yes (with 48 percent strongly agreeing). Only 28 percent

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disagreed (with 17 percent saying they strongly disagree) (Church and State Sep. 2011). Early proponents for separating politics from religion were fighting for religious freedom and desperately trying to keep their belief practices away from government control. However, the reality is minority or disfavored religions still receive the spiritual injustice of persecution in a disconcerting amount of the world. Religious practice often conflicts with secular law creating debates on the freedom of religious practices. For instance, even though polygamy is permitted in Islam it is often prohibited in secular law in many countries. Does prohibiting polygamy then restrict their religious freedom? The US and India, both constitutionally secular nations, have taken opposite views of this. In India polygamy is permitted, but for practicing Muslims only, under Muslim Personal Law. In the United States polygamy is legally prohibited for all. This was a famous source of conflict between the early LDS Church and the United States until the Mormons amended their position on practicing polygamy. Similar issues have also arisen in the context of the religious use of psychedelic substances by Native American tribes that are classified as illegal drugs in the United States. They can still engage in their practices on reservation land though. So, it is at least established that religious practices have to be legal. Among the most contentious areas of religious freedom are the rights of an individual to evangelize. Other debates have involved restricting certain kinds of missionary activity by religions. There is the argument that Christian insistence on the propagation of their faith to native cultures as an element of religious freedom has resulted in a corresponding denial of religious freedom to native traditions and led to their destruction. This sets up a mentality of turnabout-is-fair-play on Christians encouraging their oppression as a form of historical retributive justice for such a grim record of political misuses as then attached to Christianity

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(Midgley, 2002 p.18). It also propagates a fear that any sort of Christian influence is inherently evangelical and motivated to usurp the beliefs of others. The best part is that it provides for a convenient scapegoat for historical atrocities as the performers of much of colonial injustice were Christians and the fact that their actions were governmentally sanctioned, inconsequential. Contradiction of teaching Evolutionary science and Christian Creationism No debate has more polarized the exclusion of religion, and more particularly Christianity, from public education than the teaching of the theory of evolution versus creationism. In the United States, creationists and proponents of evolution have been engaged in a long-standing battle over the legal status of creation and evolution in public school science classrooms. The status of creation and evolution in public education has been the subject of egregious amounts of debate in legal, political, and religious circles. Globally there is a wide range of views on this topic that range from countries censoring teachers discussing the evidence for evolution or modern evolutionary synthesis, which is the scientific theory that explains evolution, to making it mandatory that only evolutionary biology is to be taught. The debate is sometimes portrayed as being between science and religion. However, as the National Academy of Sciences states: Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earths history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious

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denominations that do not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in strictly literal interpretations of religious texts (Committee on Revising Science and Creationism, 2008). Ironically, most contemporary Christian leaders and scholars from mainstream churches, such as Anglicans and Lutherans, consider that there is no conflict between the spiritual meaning of creation and the science of evolution. According to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, "...for most of the history of Christianity (and I think this is fair enough) an awareness that a belief that everything depends on the creative act of God, is quite compatible with a degree of uncertainty or latitude about how precisely that unfolds in creative time (Williams, 2006). Arguments that Christianity is inherently incompatible with teaching science in schools is a larger myth than those that respected scientists are supposedly attempting to keep from poisoning our poor impressionable youth. Many religions, including a large body of Christians, do not have theological objections to the modern evolutionary synthesis as an explanation for the present form of life on Earth. Most modern Christians around the world accept evolution as a likely explanation for the origins of species, and do not necessarily take a literal view of the Genesis creation narrative, yet they are lumped in with a fundamentalist few. The United States is actually an exception where belief in Christian fundamentalism is much more likely to affect attitudes towards evolutionary theory than it is for believers elsewhere. There are some adherents of particular fundamentalist branches of Christianity, which are vigorously opposed to the modern consensus view of the scientific community. Yet religion is still seen as contradictory to Evolutionary theory.

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Conflict with evolutionary explanations is only in literalist interpretations of scripture, and resistance to teaching evolution is thus related to the popularity of these more literalist views. Political partisanship affecting religious belief is a factor. Political partisanship in the U.S. is highly correlated with fundamentalist thinking. There is generally not a great deal of conflict over teaching evolution in science courses in most of the world. The exception is a few areas of the United States and several Islamic fundamentalist countries. The United States the Supreme Court has ruled the teaching of creationism as science in public schools to be unconstitutional and even though intelligent design has been presented as an alternative explanation to evolution in recent decades, it is an option that has been widely ignored. This is besides the fact that leaders of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches have made statements in favor of evolutionary theory. In fact, many Christians had been considering the idea of the creation history as allegorical instead of a historical description long before the development of Darwin's theory of evolution. First century Jewish neo-platonic philosopher Philo of Alexandria wrote that it would be a mistake to think that creation happened in six days, or in any set amount of time. Saint Augustine of the late fourth century, who was also a former Neo-Platonist, argued that everything in the universe was created by God at the same moment in time instead of in six days as a literal reading of Genesis would seem to require. Scholars such as the Christian physicist John Polkinghorne has argued that evolution is one of the principles through which God created living beings. Earlier supporters of evolutionary theory include Frederick Temple, English academic, teacher, churchman and Archbishop of Canterbury; and Charles Kingsley, English priest of the Church of England, university professor, historian and novelist, who were known to be enthusiastic supporters of Darwin's theories upon their

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publication. French Jesuit priest and geologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin saw evolution as confirmation of his Christian beliefs. Another example is that of Liberal theology, not providing any creation models, but instead focusing on the symbolism in beliefs of the time of authoring Genesis and the cultural environment. Darwin himself was an Anglican and believed in God as the ultimate lawgiver, which did not impede him from his naturalist observations. Since teaching the science of evolution has been accepted as curricula in the modern public classroom, any doubt, questioning, or disbelief of the theory is frowned upon. It seems often to be assumed that they are therefore irrelevant, that Science itself is something so pure and impersonal that it ought to be thought of in complete abstraction from all the motives that might lead people to practice it (Midgley, 2002 p.2). Yet why is contention on creationism singled out as most important? Admittedly, no movement has been proposed to advent any other religious existentialist views such as reincarnation or karma in schools. But conversely, other nonChristian belief systems are not held as antithetical to Evolution, and the creation stories of Native Americans or Australian Aborigines are valid curricula in Anthropology or cultural studies while Christianity is not. It is as if the Theory of Evolution is a religion unto itself and woe be to any dogma that seems to pose some competition of any sort. Arguably though, the seemingly rampant exclusion of Christianity in America could be a causality situation. Since Christianity is the majority religion in America according to most surveys any attempt to separate religion from schools or government would mainly affect Christians. Would that were the case, but reports of situations such as the Easter bunny being banned in locations like the Indian River School district in Delaware keep mounting (Saxton, 2011). On the other hand, there has yet to be any great movement to exclude Halloween (my

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favorite holiday and my birthday), which is in fact a Wiccan holiday. In fact, Halloween has been recognized as a religious holiday for Wiccans in Nashville, Tennessee (Black, 2011).

Another unusual happening, that is worldwide, is that some historians have adopted an alternative dating system, referring to B.C. as B.C.E. (before the common era), and to A.D. as C.E. (common era). The traditional western calendar is based on the birth of Christ; all years before Christ's birth have traditionally been designated B.C. (before Christ) and those after his birth as A.D., an abbreviation for the Latin term anno Domini which translates as "in the year of the Lord.

The change was made to mask the Christian basis for the dating system and presumably make it more palatable to non-Christians. There is no attempt to deny the motivation behind this. Even the religious tolerance website has this to say:

(AD) is an acronym for "Anno Domini" in Latin or "the year of the Lord" in English...We should treat others as we would wish to be treated. Since only one out of every three humans on earth is a Christian, some theologians felt that non-religious, neutral terms like CE and BCE would be less offensive to the non-Christian majority. Forcing a Hindu, for example, to use AD and BC might be seen by some as coercing them to acknowledge the supremacy of the Christian God and of Jesus Christ.

The intent of balancing representation of other cultures and religions of course has merit; however, to throw the baby out with the bath water is irrational. Historians wouldn't dream of doing away with traditional views and concepts of non-western cultures in an effort to "clean up" mistakes, unwholesome attitudes, etc. because this would be tantamount to cultural revisionism.

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To remove Christian concepts and trappings from Western thought is to remove the "heart" from western ideas. Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian thought is Western Civilization and to deny these things is to trade propaganda for historical accuracy.

The concept of separation of Church and State has been turned into a weapon to occlude Christianity from the public rather than protect it from governmental persecution. Freedom of religion goes only as far as the government allows. Evolution is God in the classroom and any dissention is heretical. Even the possibility of reconciling Evolution and Christianity is not enough to allow it back into the secular eye. Crosses are still taken down off roadsides, hilltops and public buildings. No references are correlated in any way between biblical accounts and history as it is taught. The Christian background of important historical figures is glossed over unless some atrocity against human rights has been accounted, and then it is a convenient excuse. Supposedly ousting all religion is the answer but it is Christians that are ostracized. Welcome to Rome; were looking at adding a coliseum.

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Works Cited
(n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Religious AU Opposes School-Sponsored Prayer At Texas Graduation. (2011, September). Church & State. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Constitution Mandates Church-State Separation, Says Poll. (2011, September). Church & State. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Fort Bragg Agrees To Allow Non-Theistic Festival On Base. (2011, September). Church & State, p. 18. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Black, N. (2011, August Saturday 20 04:24 PM EDT). Wiccan Holidays Recognized by Vanderbilt University. The Christian Post. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Committee on Revising Science and Creationism. (2008). Science, Evolution, and Creationism. National Academies Press. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Curry, T. J. (2001). Farewell to Christendom: The Future of Church and State in America. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Jefferson, T. (1802, January 1). Letter to the Danbury Baptists. Library of Congress. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Jelen, T. G., & Wilcox, C. (1995). Public Attitudes Toward Church and State. New York, New York, USA: M. E. Sharpe. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Locke, J. (1689-92). A Letter Concerning Toleration. In R. M. Hutchins (Ed.), The Great Books (Vol. 35). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica. Midgley, M. (2002). Evolution as a Religion. London: Routledge. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Saxton, R. (2011). Easter Bunny banned in district schools. Coastal Point. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from

Censored Christ 17 Williams, A. o. (2006, March Tuesday 21 04.13 EST). Interview: Rowan Williams. (A. Rusbridger, Interviewer) The Guardian. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from