Creationist Wisdom #310: Truth vs. Hogwash

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Elizabeth City Daily Advance of Elizabeth City, North Carolina. As you probably know, Elizabeth City hosts the annual North Carolina Potato Festival.

The letter’s title is Bible played key role in US history. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. As we usually do, we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Okay, here we go:

Is it a good idea to teach the Bible in public schools? My answer is a resounding yes and here’s why:

Before presenting the letter-writer’s reasons, we should tell that we chose this letter because it supports a bill currently pending in the North Carolina legislature that would offer elective bible classes in the state’s public schools. Presumably that would include Noah’s Ark and all the rest. See North Carolina’s Bible Class Bill. We just checked, and the bill is still sitting in committee. Okay, back to the letter:

There is no question about the importance of the Bible and its influence in American history. Where — may I ask — did the founding fathers of this nation get their founding principles — especially the principle of individual liberty — from? From the “benevolent” king George III?

Uh, no. It wasn’t from King George — or the bible. We thought everyone knew that the principles of the Revolution came from the Enlightenment. Let’s read on:

From the mind of man? No, they got their inspiration as well as the founding principles from the Bible, thus, this book is indisputable in our nation’s founding and its history.

Aaaargh!! As we have often said (see Is America a “Christian Nation”?):

Hamilton and Madison, who explained the Constitution clause-by-clause in the Federalist Papers, did so totally without scriptural references. That’s because there was no scriptural basis for concepts like a decentralized federal republic, a two-house legislature, limited government with enumerated powers, representation based on population, checks and balances, prohibiting religious qualifications for holding office, allowing secular oaths, and providing that a man-made Constitution was the supreme law of the land.

The letter continues:

School children were even taught their ABCs from the Bible. That in itself is a “Bible study,” is it not?

Uh, no, it’s not bible study — it’s alphabet study. If the kiddies learned their ABCs with a text that says “A is for apple,” would that be the study of botany? Here’s more:

Senate Bill 138 is good for education because it allows schools to teach the Bible as history without being religious at all.

Uh huh — “without being religious at all.” Moving along:

No legislative body is making a law here establishing an “official” state religion. The purpose of the “establishment clause” in the U.S. Constitution was to ensure that there would be no official state religion — that’s it. The founding fathers had certainly enough of an official state religion with the Church of England.

Well, originally the states could have their own established churches, and many did; but they had all disestablished their churches by the 1840s. We should point out a provision of the North Carolina Constitution, which says, in ARTICLE I, DECLARATION OF RIGHTS, Section 13:

Religious liberty. All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.

We don’t know how North Carolina courts interpret that, but we assume that the public schools would be considered a “human authority,” so they have no business teaching the bible at the expense of the state. Aside from that, the US Supreme Court has been applying the First Amendment to the states, so we don’t see much of an issue here. Another excerpt from today’s letter:

Furthermore, it was never the intention of our founding fathers to exclude God from the workings of government. As a matter of fact, church services were even held in federal government buildings. For example, Patrick Henry’s famous “give me liberty” speech was given in a church. You can teach that in schools because it’s a historical fact.

Even so, that tells us nothing about the authority of the state to teach — and implicitly endorse — the bible. Would the letter-writer be equally enthusiastic if the state were to teach the Koran in the public schools? Here’s the letter’s final paragraph:

Clearly I see battle lines being drawn here. The war is over the input in the hearts and minds of our children — thus our future. To me, it is a contest of believing the truth of our nation’s founding principles and prosperity or believing a bunch of hogwash that a lot of what modern history revisionists are conjuring up. It is not the light that fears the darkness. It is the other way around.

Okay, the battle lines are being drawn. It’s the truth vs. hogwash. Or is it really evolution vs. creationism? We’ll just have to watch and see how things work out.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #310: Truth vs. Hogwash

  1. Ummmm…. no.

    The most influential Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians. The ideas of personal freedom, political, economic and religious liberty are not found in the Bible. Nor are the 10 Commandments the basis for our laws. Christianity, the Bible and Jesus are not mentioned anywhere in America’s founding documents. America is in short not a Christian Nation.

  2. Clearly the writer is the one who believes the hogwash.

    What is surprising to me is that these advocates of the bible as the basis of our principles of personal freedom, liberty, democracy, etc., etc., have clearly never read the bible. From end to end the bible is all about obedience to kings, priests, god, slave masters, men (if you’re unfortunate enough to be a female piece of property in biblical times), and so on. Physical punishments for infractions of the hundreds of laws were draconian, not to mention punishment meted out in the afterlife. Even one’s thoughts are not free per the bible – merely coveting someone else’s property (wife, slaves, animals, etc) violates one of the ten commandments. It matters not if you act on these thoughts – having them at all is a punishable sin according to the bible.

    Although, it must be said, the original constitution permitted the institution of slavery, which could be interpreted as biblically based. I guess the writer would interpret that as his individual freedom to own another human being.

  3. Let’s not forget that it says pretty clearly in Ephesians (or is it Philippians? Or Romans? I’m pretty sure it’s Ephesians) that Christians are to submit to all authority above them, since leaders are appointed by God. The whole American Revolution kind of flies in the face of that.

  4. TPK, try these:

    Hebrews 13:17 — Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves

    1 Peter 2:13 — Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

  5. @ TPK & Curmudgeon

    Those Bible quotes are evidence that the America-is-a-Christian-Nation crowd haven’t read the Bible or the Constitution & Bill of Rights.

  6. @anevilmeme — Likewise those who want to lead others in prayer in school, at football games, before public meetings — and even in church:

    Matthew 6:5-6 — And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    Certainly a contender for the most-ignored directive of Jesus.

  7. Ceteris Paribus

    Unfortunately in 2013 it doesn’t mean a “rat’s a**” what the founders, the bible, the historians, newspaper writers,or the public thinks is the law regarding establishment of religion.

    It all comes down to what the US Supreme Court decides is the law. And the prospects for keeping a secular government are rapidly dimming. Look up the 2005 case McCreary County V ACLU of Kentucky.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-1693.ZS.html

    In a Ten Commandments display suit, the court held by only a 5-4 majority decision that a display of the commandments in a government setting violated the establishment cause.

    The dissenting opinion was written by Catholic justice Antonin Scalia. The question is, given that in Colonial times Catholics were at the bottom of the religious hierarchy, why would Scalia carry sword for Protestant theocrats?.

    The answer is clearly demonstrated in Part 1 of Scalia’s dissenting opinion which was also accepted by justices Thomas and Rhenquist : Religion, any religion, trumps non-religion i.e. secularism.

    Scalia’s dissent was also signed on by Rhenquist, and Thomas. The fourth dissenting vote was Kennedy, who did not concur with Scalia’s argument that religion trumps secularism, but agreed with the other parts of Scalia’s dissent..

  8. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    This is a couple of months old and perhaps not news to anyone here, but seems entirely relevant. Let’s see if Ray Clarke’s assertions about teaching the Bible as history not being a problem hold any water after Texas went down that very same road …

    New TFNEF Report: Texas Public School Bible Classes Teach Races Come from Noah’s Sons, Biblical Literalism, 6000-year-old Earth
    By Dan | Published January 16, 2013

    http://tfninsider.org/2013/01/16/new-tfnef-report-texas-public-school-bible-classes-teach-races-come-from-noahs-sons-biblical-literalism-6000-year-old-earth/

  9. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    I should have been more accurate in the second sentence. Representing it not “as history” but instead “to teach about the influence of the Bible in history and literature” as the linked article and the Texas law states.

  10. Charles Deetz ;)

    I just love the invoking of the magic words “and thus” the writer uses to prove the christian nation thing. They’d never let a deist or secularist get away with that, why should we?

    I don’t understand where this collective amnesia about America’s roots come from. David Barton can’t be responsible for it all. God I hope not.

  11. Retired Prof

    I’m not saying I’m in favor of displaying the Ten Commandments on public property, but if it’s done, it has to be done the right way: on a plaque consisting of small tiles carefully arranged to form the text.

    After all, it IS mosaic law.