Here's How To Break The Law?

Over at National Review Online, Prof. Lee Strang complains that “the recent Dover case shows just how far the Supreme Court’s establishment-clause case law has strayed and also serves as a cautionary note to others who would include intelligent design in the public-school science classroom.” He believes that the Everson case has led courts to “purge religion from the public square.” This, of course, is nonsense, although very common nonsense.

Religion is present in all sorts of public squares, and it is constitutionally protected in those squares. Government school employees are not permitted to prevent students from praying or discussing religion, or reading the Bible, or engaging in other religious activities (within the boundaries of proper classroom discipline). Government employees are allowed to express their own religious views however they see fit, so long as this is done in a way that does not put an official sign of approval on those views. Many government employees, including the President and members of Congress, enunciate their religious views at virtually every opportunity. There is simply no such purge—no more than there’s a “war on Christmas.”

Of course, if you happen to believe that your religious freedom includes the right to force others to do what you want, or to pray as you want, or to pay for the propagation of your religious beliefs, then you might be upset when a court says no. And that, of course, is precisely what the supposed “purge” boils down to. Under the Kitzmiller decision, anyone who wishes to discuss Intelligent Design is free to do so at any time and in any place—they’re just not allowed to do it on the taxpayer’s dime, and with the government’s symbols of authority at their back. That is all. That is a pretty weak “purge.” Religion is simply not being “push[ed]…out of the public square,” as Strang claims; it is being rebuffed in its attempt to place itself on the government payroll.

But even more astonishingly, Strang concludes with advice on how future school boards can more effectively break the law:

we can encourage our school boards to be circumspect if they decide to include a discussion of intelligent design in the science classroom. Instead of presenting overtly religious arguments for intelligent design, present the strong---explicitly scientific---claims put forward by intelligent-design proponents such as the Discovery Institute.... Then...federal judges will have a more difficult time declaring teaching intelligent design unconstitutional.

Yes; if you improve the quality of your counterfeiting, it will be harder to detect you. Note that Strang is not suggesting that people amend the Constitution—which would be the honorable thing to do. No, he’s giving advice on how to violate it more effectively.

Worse than that, even, Strang is advocating that Christian people deny their Lord. Rather than openly acknowledge one’s religious motivation and religious beliefs, he counsels his readers to pretend not to be Christians, to foreswear their savior, and to bear false witness that they’re really just doing a secular thing. Perhaps, at this festive season of the year, it would be well to remind the good professor of Matthew 10:32-33: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”