FOR this holiday weekend we present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from The Privilege of Worship, which appears in the Polk County Democrat. The bold font was added by us.
But first we want to provide a bit of orientation. The Polk County Democrat is the local newspaper for Florida’s Polk County, which is immediately east of Hillsborough County — the home of Florida state senator Ronda Storms. In other words, we are deep in creationist territory.
Today’s article was written by Chip Ballard, whose website informs us that he is a free-lance writer and educator living in Zolfo Springs. (That’s in Hardee County, just south of Polk County. Its population was 1,641 at the 2000 census.) Mr. Ballard’s research and writing technique has been criticized here, but we express no opinion about such matters. We know nothing of Mr. Ballard’s teaching career, but this indicates that he once taught at Hardee Junior High.
Okay, now you know where this is coming from. The first few paragraphs are about the meaning of Easter, which we already know. Then the writer says:
As we press on into the 21st century, technology has left spirituality sputtering in the dust. Many worship at the University of Science instead of the Altar of God. Reason has replaced faith; thus, evolution is taught in schools as cries of objection arise if any hint creationism, or “intelligent design” is inserted into the curriculum.
That’s because there are constitutional restrictions on promoting religion in state-run schools. Let’s read on:
Science, before the Wright brothers built their flying machine, “proved” man would never fly.
And then the Wright brothers, presumably using scriptural aeronautics and creationist principles, proved that science is worthless. We continue:
In “The Watch and the Watchmaker,” philosopher Bertrand Russell poses this question: If a man who has never seen a watch finds one, takes it apart and examines all the parts that fit together so perfectly to make it run so precisely, will common sense prompt him to conclude the watch was created, or did it come into existence by chance?
Uh, that was William Paley, wasn’t it? Here’s more:
Few deny that evolution has happened; but is it the whole truth? Most of our ideas about evolution today are based on a movie called “Inherit the Wind” about the famous (or infamous) 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial” in Tennessee, which was based on a collection of essays by the great debunker, H.L. Mencken.
Whaaa? Our ideas about evolution come from a movie? Really? And the movie was based on Mencken’s essays? Who knew?
Actually, there was no need for the film makers to rely on Mencken, and we doubt that they did. We have a transcript of the Scopes trial, published by the National Book Company of Cincinnati, Copyright 1925. It was published right after the trial. Amazon has one used copy available, but it’s expensive.
The movie’s depiction of Clarence Darrow’s cross-examination of William Jennings Bryan is certainly dramatic. We consulted our book after viewing the film. The courtroom dialog is taken right from the trial transcript. There was no need to embellish it. Or to consult Mencken. Moving along:
If the American people are supposed have some say regarding the laws that govern them, surely the majority of citizens would not object if a smidgen of “intelligent design” were inserted into textbooks, even if only as a footnote to evolution.
Yes, perhaps in Hardee County, except that the American people ratified the Constitution, and that’s an obstacle to religious instruction in state-run schools. If today’s court interpretation of the First Amendment isn’t acceptable Mr. Ballard, there’s always the Florida Constitution, which was ratified by the people of that state. Its Declaration of Rights, Section 3, says:
There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.
That seems clear enough. The people have spoken. Here’s another excerpt from Ballard’s article:
Powerful forces have undermined the religion upon which America was founded.
We’ve read the Constitution. And the Federalist Papers. It might surprise Mr. Ballard to learn that they don’t say anything about “the religion upon which America was founded.” Maybe they just forgot to mention it. On with the article:
So far no black helicopters have appeared to hover above as men in ski masks board up the doors of our churches and burn our Bibles.
Not yet. But any day now, the dreaded Army of Darwin will appear to do just that — or so Mr. Ballard seems to believe. One last excerpt:
We are still free this Easter to worship in the church of our choice, to bow humbly before the God of our understanding. For that privilege, we must not forget to be grateful.
Wait! What’s that we hear? Is it the whirling of Darwinist helicopter propellers? Quick, Mr. Ballard, grab your bible and head for the hills!
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