Do you wish you could just ignore the Religious Right? Maybe you think people like me overreact to the Religious Right. Let me give you three illustrations from recent news stories that are a SHOUTING reminder of why we CAN’T ignore the Religious Right.
In the State of Indiana a bill has been introduced that:
Allows the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school to provide for the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day.
In order that each student recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen, the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school may require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day. The prayer may be recited by a teacher, a student, or the class of students.
(b) If the governing body or equivalent authority requires the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer under subsection (a), the governing body or equivalent authority shall determine the version of the Lord’s Prayer that will be recited in the school corporation or charter school.
(c) A student is exempt from participation in the prayer if:
(1) the student chooses not to participate; or
(2) the student’s parent chooses to have the student not participate.
In the State of Missouri House Bill 1227 has been introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives. This bill would require the teaching of biological intelligent design, aka creationism.The National Center for Science Education reports:
House Bill 1227, introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives on January 10, 2012, would, if enacted, require “the equal treatment of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design,” according to the legislature’s summary of the bill. The equal treatment provision would apply to both public elementary and secondary schools and to “any introductory science course taught at any public institution of higher education” in Missouri.
HB 1227′s text is about 3000 words long, beginning with a declaration that the bill is to be known as the Missouri Standard Science Act, followed by a defectively alphabetized glossary providing idiosyncratic definitions of “analogous naturalistic processes,” “biological evolution,” “biological intelligent design,” “destiny,” “empirical data,” “equal treatment,” “hypothesis,” “origin,” “scientific theory,” “scientific law,” and “standard science.”
Among the substantive provisions of the bill, applying both to public elementary and secondary schools and to introductory science courses in public institutions of higher education: “If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught. Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught.”
For public elementary and secondary schools, HB 1227 also provides, “If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a textbook, the textbook shall give equal treatment to biological evolution and biological intelligent design.” After the bill is enacted, new textbooks purchased for the public schools will have to conform to the equal treatment requirement. A committee will develop supplementary material on “intelligent design” for optional interim use.
Here in my home state of Ohio we are gearing up for a battle over whether or not a fertilized egg is a person. A bill banning abortions once there is a fetal heartbeat is stalled in the Ohio Legislative Assembly. House Bill 125 states:
“Unborn human individual” means an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.”
It is unlikely that this Bill will be enacted into law. However, the Religious Right is planning on getting a Personhood Amendment on the November 2012 ballot. This will have a secondary effect of getting Republicans out to the polls. While voting for this Amendment they might as will vote for the Republican candidate for President too.
Personhood Ohio makes it clear that their amendment drive is motivated by religious belief. Their website states:
It is a verifiable fact of the Holy Bible that life begins in the womb. The Bible confirms repeatedly that a woman is pregnant with a “child” – not “products of conception”, not “a blob of tissue”. In Genesis 25, Rebekah’s “children” struggled within her. In Psalm 139, the inspired writer insists that he existed in his mother’s womb – not a non-living, non-human “product of conception” that became him later on. Pregnant women were considered “great with child“, and Jesus’ mother Mary was found “with child of the Holy Ghost.” ….
…In light of this, it becomes obvious that we have committed a great travesty against the weakest and most helpless members of the human family – the preborn. Forty-five thousand to fifty thousand innocent children die in Ohio every year by abortion. In this, as in all state-sponsored genocides throughout history, society first dehumanizes the victims before genocide can be committed against them. Thus, one of the first steps to protect the preborn and end the Abortion Holocaust is to inscribe into state law that which science, reason, and biblical truth affirms: that personhood begins at the beginning of our biological development, or at fertilization. Children in the womb are recipients of the God-given, inalienable right to life and liberty. It is the mission of Personhood Ohio to restore the God-given right to life and liberty to all Ohioans, and to secure “justice for all.”…
The Religious Right, drunk with political power, demands that their religion and its laws be the religion and law for everyone. Rather than relying on the power of their religious argument to make disciples they have turned to the courts and legislature to advance their agenda.
Call them ignorant, backwater hicks,or Bible thumpers, but do NOT ignore them. The leaders of the Religious Right have millions of closed minded people at their disposal.They have the ability to motivate large numbers of people to do their bidding. Do you cherish liberty and freedom? Do think that the separation of church and state is a wall that must never be breached? Do you want school children taught science rather than fictional Bible stories? Do you want schools that are free from religious coercion of any kind?
I know I do and I suspect you do too. Let’s not underestimate their power. We must continue to shine the light of reason and law on their theocratic intentions. Complacency is not an option.