Unintelligent Design and the Christian Right�s other wars on reality
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Journal Contributing Writer
Mar 7, 2006, 01:30
In his article
�Rebuking the �Clergy Letter Project,�� Rev.
Mark H. Creech harshly criticized the 10,200-plus clergy who �signed a letter
stating they rejected a literal interpretation of the creation story.�
The �Clergy Letter
Project� argues that �the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries
of modern science may comfortably coexist.� As Rev. Creech
noted, �the purpose of the letter is to urge school board members to reject
such teachings as Scientific Creationism and Intelligent Design and �preserve
the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory
of evolution as a core component of human knowledge.'"
But that�s not what
Creech and other dogmatic biblical literalists want:
. . . to doubt a literal interpretation of
the creation account is to undermine everything taught in the Bible. In Exploring Genesis, John Philips argues
that to abandon the creation account as �unfactual and unreliable, as mere
mythology, as a doctored-up copy of the Babylonian creation epic, as totally
unacceptable to modern science� is to surrender to Satan. Philips adds, �If the
Holy Spirit cannot be trusted when He tells of creation, how can He be trusted
when He tells of salvation. If what He says about earth in Genesis 1 can be
questioned, then what He says about heaven in Revelation 22 can be questioned.
If the Holy Spirit cannot be trusted in Genesis 1, how can he be trusted in
and acknowledging science constitute a �surrender to Satan�? How much more
dogmatic, how much more medieval can you get? And just for the record, only
Christians take John 3:16
In an interview
with The Philadelphia Inquirer, John E. Jones III, the judge in the �intelligent design� case
involving pubic schools in Dover, Pa., was as rational as Rev. Creech and
John Philips were irrational:
Inquirer: Reading through the
opinion, it was hard to evade the impression that you were surprised at the
weakness of one side of the case. You used very strong language to characterize
the case as a whole and the presentation.
Jones: I�ll answer that question indirectly. . . . The opinion
speaks for itself. There was something I said in the opinion that was grossly
misunderstood. . . . I said that on the issue of whether intelligent design was
science, that there wasn�t a judge in the United States in a better position to
decide that than I was. [Commentator Phyllis] Schlafly
interpreted that as my saying that I am so brilliant and erudite that I could
decide that better than anyone else could. What I meant was that no one else
had sat through an intensive six weeks of largely scientific testimony, and in
addition to the task at hand, which was to decide the case, I wanted the
opinion to stand as a primer for people across the country. . . . I wanted it
to stand as a primer so that folks on both sides of the issue could read it,
understand the way the debate is framed, see the testimony in support and
against the various positions . . . and what is heartening to me is that it�s
now evident that it�s being used in that way. . . . We did some of the lifting
in that trial. To my mind . . . it would
be a dreadful waste of judicial resources, legal resources, taxpayer money . .
. to replicate this trial someplace else . . . [italics and link added]
It would be. But
there are those hell-bent on doing so. According to a March 2, 2006 Focus on
the Family article,
Nevada may be the next place to waste judicial resources and taxpayer money:
proposed constitutional amendment in Nevada would require teachers to instruct
their students that there are many unanswered questions about the theory of
evolution. Opponents of the proposal claim it�s a �thinly veiled attempt� to
allow intelligent design into the schools . . .
design is only one front in the Christian Right�s war on reality.
Some of the most rabid of the radical Christian Right will
be holding �The War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006� conference,
March 27-28, in Washington, D.C. They do so love to play victim as they
victimize everyone who doesn�t agree with them.
that appeared on the website of The Christian Underground in late January was
titled �The Passion of the Left: Hating Christians.� The author went through
the usual withering litany of grievances, this time in reference to a conference,
entitled �Examining the Real Agenda of the Far Religious Right.� But, as usual,
while playing victim the author also admitted the truth:
At one point, a speaker spoke about the
need �to save democracy� from the �Christian Right,� to which the audience
broke out in applause. An associate professor of comparative studies equated
the zeal of the �Christian Right� with that of �suicide bombers.� A former
Pentecostal minister gave a presentation titled, �Christian Jihad,� while
someone claimed to unveil, �The Real Hidden Religious Agenda: The Theocratic
States of America.� For those suffering
under such delusions, evangelical Christians are indeed the biggest threat to
America and the entire world for that matter. [italics added]
A February 21 Agape Press article --
�Homosexual Activists� War Against
Christianity� -- by Ed Vitagliano of the American Family Association
continued the plaintive wail of the victimizer playing victim. You remember Mr.
Vitagliano, the American Family Association�s homophobic �researcher� who began
the SpongeBob fiasco.
�The War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006�
conference is being sponsored by Vision
America: �Our mission is to inform, encourage and mobilize pastors and
their congregations to be proactive in restoring Judeo-Christian values to the
moral and civic framework in their communities, states, and our nation.�
According to a WorldNet Daily article,
�The advisory board of Vision America
includes Christian leaders such as D.
James Kennedy, Don
Falwell,� and other anti-gay, ultra-right theocratic luminaries [links
Speakers at the conference include Sen. Sam
Brownback (R-KS), Sen. John
Cornyn (R-TX), Phyllis
Schlafly, Gary Bauer. And
what would a conference on �values� be without two of the other confirmed
speakers: Alan Keyes and Tom DeLay?
You remember Alan Keyes: the
rabid homophobe whose run for the U.S. Senate resulted in one of
the most humiliating defeats in America political history. In his 1996
presidential campaign, Mr. Keyes said, �If we accept the homosexual agenda,
which seeks recognition for homosexual marriages, we will be destroying the
integrity of the marriage-based family.� In his 2000 run, Keyes said that
granting gay Americans the right to a civil union would mean �you�ve
legitimized pedophilia.� And in his disastrous campaign for the U.S. senate in
2004, Keyes said that homosexuality is �selfish hedonism.� When asked if he
considered Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, a
�selfish hedonist� Keyes replied, �Of course she is. That goes by definition.
Of course she is.�
Keyes� daughter, Maya Marcel-Keyes, is lesbian. As a 365Gay.com article noted,
Keyes believes she is also a �selfish hedonist.� When she �came out,� CBS news reported
that �Marcel-Keyes told the [Washington] Post her parents have thrown
her out of the house, stopped speaking to her and refuse to pay for college
because she is gay.� So much for family �values� and
valuing one�s family.
And who could forget the �values� represented by arrested, indicted
Tom DeLay, who claimed to be on a messianic mission to bring �the biblical
worldview� into American politics?
Appropriately, the spokesman for the �The War on Christians
and the Values Voter in 2006� conference is Don Feder. In an article
that first appeared on chronowatch.com and was reposted on the website of The
Christian Underground, Mr. Feder labeled the Anti-Defamation League and the
American Civil Liberties Union the �Anti-Prayer
Axis.� Feder�s self-description
says it all: �I�m to the right
of Sharon on Zionism, to the right of Pat Buchanan on immigration and
Americanism, to the right of Mother Angelica on abortion, to the right of Chuck
Heston on Second Amendment rights, and generally make the legendary Attila look
like a limousine liberal.�
Some of the titles of sessions at the conference also speak
for themselves: �The Gay Agenda: America Won�t Be Happy,� �The ACLU And Radical
Secularism: Driving God From The Public Square,� and �The Media: Megaphone For
But the most telling of all is �The Judiciary: Overruling
God.� The conference is not about some alleged war against Christians and their �values.� It�s a war by radical fundamentalist Christians to
make America their theo-fascist state. Alan Keyes� �declarationist�
principles spell out the agenda:
All men are
created equal. Hence they have equal natural rights as a gift of the Creator.
Our duty to
seek and follow the will of the Creator is prior to all government.
Accordingly, so is the liberty of religious conscience.
of the Creator as prior to all civil society and human authority must be
respected for liberty to endure.
A main focus -- if not the
main focus -- in the American
Taliban�s campaign to remake America in its own image is to dehumanize,
disenfranchise, and hurt in any way possible gay and lesbian Americans. It�s
also where their agenda is most transparent. They have no rational arguments
for denying these Americans equal civil rights, including the civil right to a
civil marriage. Their only arguments
are based solely on their own
politicized �religious� dogma.
Dogma n, [L dogmat-, dogma, fr. Gk,
from dokein to seem] 1a: something
held as an established opinion; esp:
a definite authoritative tenet. B: a code of such tenents <pedagogical>.
C: a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate
grounds. 2: a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally
stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church.
�From dokein to
seem . . . established opinion . . . a
point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds . . . formally stated and authoritatively
proclaimed by a church� [italics added]. Religious dogma is an unsubstantiated opinion that must remain as is despite ever-changing social,
cultural, scientific and political contexts. As one definition in the Oxford English Dictionary put it, dogma
is �an imperious or arrogant declaration of opinion� which uses itself as its
source of authority. (Recall Rev. Creech�s dogmatic argument that �to doubt a literal interpretation of the
creation account is to undermine everything taught in the Bible?�)
When polls began to show more and more Americans favored
some form of legally recognized same-sex �civil union,� the Christian Right�s
dogmatists -- having long ago abandoned reason and belief in the civil equality
of all Americans -- intensified their anti-gay campaigns with stereotypes and
outright lies. Homophobe extraordinaire Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition
is a master of this strategy. (See �America�s New McCarthyism: Homosexual
Stereotypes, Myths, and the Politics of Fear,� Popular Culture Review, 16:2 [August 2005], 83-115 for an analysis
of Sheldon�s and the TVC�s malevolent use of stereotypes.) They also
intensified their use of the �protect the children� mantra in combination with
stereotypes of gays as inveterate child molesters and pedophiles.
As University of Chicago historian George Chauncey pointed
out in Why Marriage? The History Shaping
Today�s Debate Over Gay Equality, the claim that homosexuals recruit
children and the stereotype of them as child molesters are relatively new and
grew out of "the anxious years following the Second World War, when
communists, criminal syndicates, and other half-invisible specters seemed to
threaten the nation and when demonic new stereotypes of homosexuals were
created and backed by government sanctions . . . The old tropes of
anti-Semitic rhetoric . . . were especially influential in shaping depictions
of homosexuals . . . And like Jews, they were depicted as a threat to
children. In the most dangerous element of this new image, the escalation of
antigay policing was accompanied, inspired, and justified by press and police
campaigns that fomented stereotypes of homosexuals as child molesters."
The linking of Jews and child molestation is as old as
Christianity. Such �common knowledge� was immortalized by Geoffrey Chaucer in
the tale the Prioress told on the way to Canterbury. Anti-Semitism has a long
history in America as well. It seems less than coincidental that the two
Americans executed for treason during the McCarthy era -- when the U.S. State
Department fired more homosexuals than Communists -- were Jewish. Homosexuals
were a �natural� addition to Jews and Communists especially since they were
defined primarily by their sexuality, an uncomfortable topic rarely openly
discussed in post-WWII Christian America.
Truth is, there are mentally ill heterosexuals who are child
molesters and there are mentally ill homosexuals who are child molesters.
Nevertheless, the Christian Right and their allies persist in portraying all
gay men as crazed pedophiles and molesters. But as Kathryn Conroy, assistant
dean of Columbia University�s School of Social Work, pointed out in a New York
following the Vatican�s ban on �gay� priests, �Reliable
studies show that pedophiles (those adults who sexually abuse children) are
overwhelmingly heterosexual. In fact, homosexuals are statistically
underrepresented as those who sexually abuse children.�
�Protect the children� has become the battle cry on another
front of the Christian Right�s war on reality: adoption. Andrea Stone pointed
out in her February 20 USA Today article
that �efforts to ban gays and lesbians
from adopting children are emerging across the USA as a second front in the
culture wars that began during the 2004 elections over same-sex marriage.�
are no legitimate reasons to support denying these Americans the right to
provide loving homes for homeless children. The �protect the children� mantra
is without merit, as a previous USA Today article
noted: �in support of adoption by gays, the
American Academy of Pediatrics, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and
adoption advocacy groups cite research that children with gay or lesbian
parents fare as well as those raised in families with a mother and a father.�
research affirming the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics includes
the work by Charlotte
J. Patterson, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, Stephen T.
Russell, professor of human development at the University of Arizona, and
Jennifer Wainright, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia, in their
longitudinal, comparative study of children being reared by same-sex parents
and those being reared by opposite-sex parents. Their findings were published
in the December 2004 issue of the Society for Research in Child Development�s
journal Child Development.
her colleagues based their research on a sample of 12-18-year-old adolescents
from 88 families drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent
Health. Forty-four of the study participants were parented by same-sex couples
and 44 were parented by opposite-sex couples. The two groups were matched by
demographic characteristics including age, income levels, social situations and
other factors to ensure they were comparable. Pertinent results included:
of same-sex parents are developing as well as the children of opposite-sex
quality family relationships are more important contributors to successful
development than family type;
offspring of same-sex couples have similar dating and romantic
relationship behaviors as children of opposite-sex couples;
measures of their psychosocial adjustment and school results, such as
grades and test scores, both groups had similar outcomes, and their
adjustment was not affected by the type of family -- whether same sex or
opposite sex parents.
As soon as the Patterson study was published, the anti-gay
minions of the Christian Right -- especially those who operate for-profit
programs that claim to �cure� homosexuals with �therapies� condemned as
�unethical,� �dangerous� and �counterproductive� by the American Medical
Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological
Association, the American
Psychiatric Association, the American Counseling Association, the National
Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social
Workers -- denounced it (and all other studies that produced the same results)
as �flawed� and �biased.�
Then they trotted out their own �experts,� such as discredited -- by the
American Psychological Association -- �psychologist� Paul Cameron who, in
true dogmatic form, used �his own
studies to claim that homosexuals threaten public health, social order, and the
well-being of children.�
But let�s not forget the masters of self-serving dogma: the
Roman Catholic Church. Massachusetts Catholic bishops want an exemption for
their agencies from the state�s anti-discrimination law requiring children be
placed with qualified adoptive parents regardless of those parents� sexual
orientation. The bishops� �reasoning� is that the law violates their �religious
freedom� and is contrary to Catholic dogma, beliefs and values. One has to
wonder where those beliefs and values were when Catholic bishops in
Massachusetts and across the country were illegally covering-up decades of child abuse and pedophilia
perpetrated by priests and kept shifting from diocese to
diocese, enabling them to continue their abuses.
That the church hierarchy is corrupt is no secret. At least
there are good,
honest people working for the adoption agencies whose only interest is the
well-being of the children they�re trying to place:
Seven members of the Catholic Charities
board resigned Wednesday [March 1] to protest a request by the state�s Roman
Catholic bishops to exempt Catholic social service agencies from a law
requiring them to place some adoptive children in gay households.
In a statement, the seven board members
said they were �deeply troubled� by the course set by the four bishops, and
said it �undermines our moral priority of helping vulnerable children find
loving homes. . . . We also cannot participate in an effort to pursue legal
permission to discriminate against Massachusetts citizens who want to play a
part in building strong families,� the statement read. �The course the Bishops
have charted threatens the very essence of our Christian mission. For the sake
of the poor we serve, we pray they will reconsider.�
The Massachusetts legislature indicated it was not
interested in granting the exemption the Catholic bishops wanted. Governor
Romney had the same position, until recently:
Romney met with church leaders on
Wednesday [March 2], saying religious beliefs should trump antidiscrimination
laws, though he admitted that state law would have to be changed to fulfill
that wish. �Ultimately, legislation may need to be filed to provide an
exemption based on religious principles,� Romney said in a statement.
On March 3, The Boston Globe reported
that "the governor�s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, expanded on the
governor�s earlier remarks and said 'important issues of religious liberty
[are] at stake here.'�
�'We think special legislation is called for, and we�re
willing to work with the church to help them carry out their charitable
mission,' Fehrnstrom said in an email message."
The Globe also reported
that "Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, in a break from the governor, said
yesterday she would not support a measure allowing the state�s Catholic bishops
to exclude gays and lesbians from adopting children from Catholic agencies. . .
. 'I believe that any institution that wants to provide services that are
regulated by the state has to abide by the laws of the state,' Healey said
yesterday. 'And our antidiscrimination laws are some of our most important.'�
attitudes are well documented, as are his political aspirations. Does the
word �pandering� come to mind?
But beyond all the studies, all the dogmatic claims and
sleazy politicking, there�s reality: the reality so clearly expressed in
to the February 20 USA Today article.
These insights came from Florida:
It is absolutely amazing. The religious
right has convinced the Republican leadership of 16 (mostly red) states that
gays and lesbians should not adopt children . . .
Are Republicans so scared for their
majority in the upcoming midterm elections that they are actually going to move
forward with this cheap stunt, just to increase voter turnout of their base?
It is a truly sad day in this country
when the only issues that get people motivated are abortion and gays.
Wake up, people. Why don�t we start
talking about the real issues facing this country -- such as budget deficits,
welfare, education, Social Security, the environment and a dozen other things
that really need to be fixed?
These are children who need families.
Who cares whether the adoptive parents are gay? If opponents of gay adoptions
can come up with concrete evidence that gay people are not fit to be parents, I
say bring it on. Until then, keep quiet and let these children in need be
These came from Texas:
I was interested in USA TODAY�s article
about the groups that are opposed to gay foster and adoptive parents. It seems
there are a lot of people concerned about the children. Yet there is a terrible
shortage of foster homes . . .
USA TODAY�s story says there are about
520,000 kids in foster care in the United States. It also states that the
organization of the Rev. Russell Johnson, who opposes gay adoptions, �plans to
tout the adoption ban in a mailing� to 500,000 supporters. Maybe his supporters
who are qualified could agree to become a foster parent or adopt a �hard to
And surely there are enough people from
[James Dobson�s] Focus on the
Family or [Beverly LaHaye�s]
Women for America who could make up the balance of foster homes that would
still be needed.
If the true concern of opposing groups
centers around what�s best for our children, then they should be willing to
take on the jobs of providing loving, heterosexual, conservative family
environments. [links added]
But the most poignant and insightful came from California,
and first-hand experience:
Thanks so much for the story about the
political sensation surrounding gay and lesbian adoptions. The timing of this
article had such impact on my family.
My partner and I, along with our
11-month-old son, went to court last week to finalize his adoption. We are so
excited and proud. It has been a long road for us, nearly three years in the
making, but the reward of having a wonderful son far outweighs the struggle.
When I read that families like ours are
in the crosshairs of a vicious, religious minority, I nearly cry. I can�t
imagine having our family torn apart or never allowed to be. I hope children
aren�t dragged into the ugly war of partisan politics.
as they have repeatedly demonstrated, the dogmatic megalomaniacal leaders of
the American Taliban will use anyone, do anything, and say anything to achieve
their social and political goals. That is, after all, the nature of
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