Monday, September 04, 2006

Religion and Public Life

Will tension over religion in the public square ever be resolved?

A new study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that,
The public is not polarized into liberal and conservative camps, the poll suggests, but yearns to find middle ground on contentious social issues. There is distress about both ends of the political spectrum: 49 percent of American adults say conservatives are too assertive about trying to impose their religious values on the nation, yet 69 percent say liberals go too far in trying to keep religion out of schools and government.
There are two key areas where this difference is profound - education and the environment.

From the Boston Herald "Evangelicals intensify calls for parents to pull kids from public schools."
The courts say no creationism, no prayer in public schools," said Roger Moran, a Winfield, Mo., businessman and member of the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee. "Humanism and evolution can be taught, but everything I believe is disallowed.
And then there are those who think we can and must find a middle way; not in education necessarily, but in saving planet Earth.

In an imaginary letter to evangelical Christians, Harvard Professor Edward O. Wilson and an admitted secualr humanist asks the help of evangelical Christians to help save our planet from human destruction.

The defense of living nature is a universal value. It doesn't rise from, nor does it romote, any religious or ideological dogma. Rather, it serves without discrimination the interests of all humanity. Pastor, we need your help. The Creation--living nature--is in deep trouble.

It may seem far-fetched for a secular scientist to propose an alliance between science and religion. But the fact is that environmental activists cannot succeed without you and your followers as allies. The political process in American democracy, with rare exceptions, does not start at the top and work its way down to the voting masses. It proceeds in the opposite direction. Political leaders are compelled to calculate as precisely as they can what it will take to win the next election. The United States is an intensely religious nation. It is overwhelmingly Judeo-Christian, with a powerful undercurrent of evangelism. We secularists must face reality. The National Association of Evangelicals has 30 million members; the three leading American humanist organizations combined have, at best, a few thousand.

Given the declining birth rate among liberals, reaching out to evangelical conservatives may be the only hope they have. He concludes by stating that in the end Christians are really humanists at heart,
You and I are both humanists in the broadest sense: Human welfare is at the center of our thought. So forget our disagreements, I say, and let us meet on common ground. That might not be as difficult as it first seems. When you think about it, our metaphysical differences have remarkably little effect on the conduct of our separate lives.
He is wrong on that point. Important as it is, human welfare isn't at the center of our thought.The chief end of man is to bring glory to his Divine Creator in obedience to His Word. Until the schools and scientists understand and accept how fundamental that is to Christian thought, I see little room for compromise.

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