Dear Mr. Raspberry
December 2, 2002
A response to a column of Mr. William Raspberry as it appears in Dec. 2 edition of The State.
Dear Mr. Raspberry,
Must you fear me? I am a fundamentalist Christian. I believe that any duty is a sacred duty because I do all things for Christ. I am a loyal American who also looks forward to a Kingdom whose builder and maker is God.
We simply hold that our civic virtues find a large portion of their genesis in Judeo-Christian principles. You make the assumption that the Christian whose “sacred” understanding helps shape his “secular” involvement will ignore all other components that helped shape these virtues. To do so is to take the same tired approach that these people are “simple” and can’t handle complex thoughts outside of their faith.
Indeed, there are certainly other philosophies that influenced our founding fathers. Are there any Christians of today that would deny that? The ideas of Greek and French philosophers certainly played their part. Who is to deny that even the laws of the Roman Empire played a role? Our founding fathers did not create a theocracy—they created a republic governed by law.
This law is there to protect you, Mr. Raspberry, from me – or what you perceive me to be. It should also be there to protect me from you. The same concerns you are expressing, Christians have been experiencing.
Take the subject of what to teach our children about our origins. Creation seems such an obvious truth, religious beliefs and scientific arguments notwithstanding, that it seems clear to me we ought to teach creation -- perhaps with a mention that other people hold a different view. But you believe that evolution is the obvious truth -- and suppose you are in a position to help maintain your belief as the dominant view of academia? Wouldn't you want all our children to have access -- real access, not just a perfunctory mention -- to this truth while withholding competing doctrines?
I trust you will forgive the above rewriting of your words. However, I think you get the point. Your side (as you term it) has been in power. You control the classroom. You will not allow other ideas to enter in to challenge your own. Hmmmm, now who is sounding like the Taliban?
Here is the difference. Yes, there are those who would probably say, “Teach only Creationism in the public schools.” Those are very few – if they do exist at all. What most Christians request is simply that the two beliefs be given equal billing if you are going to teach them at all. We are willing to accept that our view is a belief around which we can find much supporting evidence. Evolutionists, on the other hand, are unwilling to admit that their view is the same.
So, which side is unwilling to allow diversity in the realm of ideas?
You have fears of what might be. We have fears of what exists. Each day it gets worse. The “religion” of secular humanism continues to force sacred belief toward the exclusive realm of the “private individual.” Already, we have seen a person’s religious beliefs become a litmus test for worthiness of public office. The secular humanists will not rest until the role of Judeo-Christian principles in the establishment of our country is ignored. In their rush to avoid the Taliban, they become like the apparitions they fear.
I ask you, Mr. Raspberry, since the end of the Dark Ages, what country with the influence of Christianity as part of its heritage and leadership has produced the theocracy you fear? On the contrary, where the light of Christianity has been there has been an increased amount of freedom—and yes, liberal thought.
I fear your “civic religion.” It is the teaching that diversity of thought must be sacrificed on the altar of relativism. The intolerable sin is to believe that there is an Absolute Truth. The sinners who do not convert are incapable of being tolerant to those who disagree with them. Give them power and they will overthrow law to install their own religion. They must be pushed out of the public sphere.
Ironically, Christian doctrine teaches that it is impossible to force sacred belief. The idea of a country run according to a strictly Christian set of morals is antithetical to the cause the Kingdom of God. Such a country would fail miserably at the very thing that was intended. No, what Christians want is what we have had: A country of law that allows us to share the great news of Jesus Christ. Where there is an influence of Judeo-Christian belief in our policies just as there are of any other belief or philosophy. The freedom of other religions and practices are paramount to the maintenance our own freedoms.
You fear shadows of your own making and in the process enhance the darkness. You do so not by extinguishing the light of Christianity (it shines brightest in the darkness of persecution), but by undermining the very principles you claim to revere.