Archive for the 'Religion' Category


The Mouthpiece Meets His Maker

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should state plainly that I have never been a Jerry Falwell fan. And that is probably an understatement.

Oh, but if I could be a fly on the wall in his meeting with the Lord. That, I expect, would be an interesting encounter. I wonder how the Lord felt all these years about Falwell’s ham-handed fatwas. I also wonder, for someone who put forth the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, how closely Falwell read it.

“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment.” (Genesis 18:19)

“Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:24)

Falwell and his ilk have certainly doled out their fair share of judgment, and when he was in the pulpit, (self?) righteousness flowed like a swollen river during flood season. But how often did Falwell “do justice” in equal measure?

The second quotation is particularly relevant, because of its use by another well-known preacher who had a radically different world-view. Let us not forget the Jerry Falwell who once decried the “civil wrongs movement” and claimed that the separation of church and state was invented by the Devil “to keep Christians from running their own country.” Only a few years before, he had asserted that preachers had no place in politics. “Preachers are not called to be politicians,” he said, “but to be soul winners.” If only he had listened to himself.

Certainly, Jerry Falwell will be remembered for his tremendous impact on the history of our nation, and on the South in particular. For many, he became a hero and a role model, and in some ways that legacy is justified. But while I’ll leave it to others to debate the relative worth of his “rights,” let us never forget his “wrongs.”


Bibles in the Classroom

The Bible is “not just ‘The Good Book.’ It’s a good book.” So says Tommie Williams, Majority Leader of the Georgia State Senate. As reported by AP, Williams sponsored a bill that will make Georgia the first state to fund Bible classes in public schools. According to the article, “The Bible already is incorporated into some classes in Georgia and other states, but some critics say the board’s move, which makes the Bible the classes’ main text, treads into dangerous turf. The U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of religion is often interpreted as implying a separation of church and state.”

Although I consider myself something of a skeptic, I feel compelled to respond: on the face of it, I have no major problem with this. During my senior year of high school, my English teacher had us read selections from the Bible, as well as from Greek and Roman mythology, in order to identify the allusions frequent in other literary works. I didn’t feel that my rights were infringed upon. Honestly, it was an informative and generally enjoyable set of lessons. These days, I don’t read my Bible very often, but I think Williams is right: it is a good book.

As a graduate of Thomas Jefferson’s University, I don’t see that this violates the separation of church and state, provided that it is taught in an “objective and non-devotional manner.” To be honest, I would like to see classes on the Koran and the Torah as well. (I’d like to think that Mr. Jefferson—we refer to him as though he were still alive—would agree with me on this.) Whether or not a bill that offered such classes would pass might say something about the state of politics today, but I’ll leave that for another place and time.

I will grant that the “temptation” for proselytism by teachers exists, but religious supporters of the bill might argue that it is no different for biology teachers who teach the “theory” of evolution. Let’s remember that the evolution v. creationism debate is very much alive, particularly in the public school systems of the South. Nevertheless, these are courses that should be taught very carefully.

One final disclaimer: the article does not make clear whether or not these courses would be electives, but I will assume that they are. If my assumption is wrong, this entire post can be disregarded.

Currently Reading

Dennis Covington, Salvation on Sand Mountain