Friday, January 27, 2006


It's clear that many on the right wing have been calling on faith and (supposed) morality to gain political points and pander to a base of evangelical Christians. There seems to be a huge group of people who make their voting decisions based not on the merits of a specific candidate or issue, but on whether the candidate shares their religious point of view or whether the issue is in line with biblical teaching.

Now the other side is trying a similar tack. Democratic lawmakers in Georgia and Alabama are attempting to establish classes in public schools on the historical, cultural and literary impact of the Bible. Their stated motive, however, is not to encourage greater understanding of a book that has impacted billions of lives and changed the face of the world, but to exploit religious faith for political gain.

"Rather than sitting back on our heels and then being knocked in our face, we are going to respond in a thoughtful way," said Kasim Reed, a Georgia state senator from Atlanta and one of the sponsors of a bill to establish such a class. "We are not going to give away the South anymore because we are unwilling to talk about our faith." Clearly this isn't just about how children can learn valuable lessons from a secular study of a sacred work, or how biblical literacy provides context for other learning, given that the Bible's influence is so broad. It's about votes. About doing whatever it takes to retain power.

This isn't just a few southern state legislators, either. Even DNC chairman Howard Dean defended the action by saying Democrats had been talking about values in a secular way, "and we don't have to." Pardon me, but what happened to the idea that curricula development should be guided based on what our children need to learn? Now both sides are pandering to zealots -- and it's not just our children who will suffer from it, but our Constitution, as well.

This is one of the most depressing political developments I've seen recently. Shameful. Another reason I'm glad I no longer identify as a Democrat.

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