Since September 22nd, a group of residents in King, Tennessee have been standing guard round-the-clock to protect a Christian flag hanging near a war memorial in Central Park. Last month, the city council of King decided to remove the Christian flag from above the war memorial monument in Central Park after a resident complained the flag violated the separation of church and state. The decision to remove the flag angered veterans groups, churches and others and led to the round-the-clock vigil. The protesters are planning an October 23rd rally to support their ultimate goal, which is to have the city restore the Christian flag to the permanent pole on the memorial. Most lawyers are recommending against that goal because flying a Christian flag at a public memorial is a clear violation of the separation of church and state. If we allow Christian flags at public memorials, then I'm going to start putting Torahs in every courthouse and Korans in every public high school locker room.
This is the second time this week the separation of church and state has come to the forefront of America's consciousness. On Tuesday Christine O'Donnell, the Republican Senate nominee from Delaware, asked, "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" Ummm, that would be the First Amendment Ms. O'Donnell. Welcome to politics. My four-year old niece could answer that question, and she can't even read.
The current debate over the separation of church and state brought up by both of these examples highlights the feeling of much of America that the Christian foundation of this country is being attacked. One of the residents of King, James Joyce, said, "We've let our religious freedoms and constitutional rights be stripped away one by one, and I think it's time we took a stand." Sir, telling everyone they should be Christian doesn't count as religious freedom. The separation of church and state exists to protect religious freedom by not allowing the government to promote one religion over another.
Besides, does anyone really think this country is going to cease to be predominantly Christian if religion is kept out of the public arena? America was founded primarily by Protestant settlers seeking freedom from religious persecution. We are still a Christian nation; there is a Bible next to the bed in every hotel room in America. So when you bring a drunk girl back to your hotel room after a night of boozing you will think, "What would Jesus do?" and get shamed back into God's arms. I would love to see the look on the face of some guy opening up that drawer in a hotel room and finding a copy of Atheist Manifesto instead of the Bible. In fact, I'm going to pitch that to NBC as a new hidden camera reality show called "Where's Your God now?"
Christine O'Donnell's comments on the separation of church and state were made in regards to the subject of creationism in classrooms. Many people feel that creationism should be taught in public schools as a rebuttal to evolution. In 2004, the school board of Dover, Pennsylvania became the first in the nation to mandate discussion of intelligent design within the science classroom, but the U.S District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that intelligent design is not science, but another form of creationism, and is therefore a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.
I've talked to some people that say that if we teach evolution, then we have to teach creationism because that is the other major theory on the genesis of man. However, the theory of creationism has no basis in science and therefore should not be taught in science classes. A poll done by Newsweek in 1987 found that there were 700 scientists out of 480,000 scientists in American who give credence to creation science. That is a whopping 0.14% of scientists. That is why creationism is not taught in biology class. We can teach creationism in a religious theory class in public school, but creationism has about as much scientific clout as my theory that my brain is actually in my big toe and that's why I don't wear sandals.
The separation of church and state is good for both liberals and conservatives. It doesn't just prevent creationism from being taught in science class. It also prevents evolution from being taught in Sunday Church services.
Follow Grant Lyon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/grantlyon1