A video series named The Silencing of God includes 5 one-hour segments that reportedly take up questions like, Did the Founding Fathers uphold the "separation of church and state"? Did they reject expressions of Christianity in government and public schools? Intend for federal institutions to be religiously neutral? Etc., etc. The series subtitle reads, "The Dismantling of America's Christian Heritage."
It's been decided that this series will be presented at my home congregation on the five Wednesday nights of July. Segment number one is tonight. I can already feel my blood pressure going up. Okay, I admit that I don't actually know what the series presents. I haven't seen it yet. But I do have my strong suspicions.
Regarding the separation of church and state, it will likely be said that this legal and political doctrine was never envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Instead, it was later created by, I don't know, the ACLU or Communists or God-hating atheistic judges. Whoever you like least, they're probably responsible. In my case, that would be someone like the New York Yankees. But then, I actually happen to think that the separation of church and state was envisioned by people like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and that, when rightly applied, it's a good thing.
We'll also hear, I suspect, that in the 1960s, the U. S. Supreme Court misinterpreted the Constitution in ways that led to the banning of Bibles and prayer in public schools. And, of course, these changes, real or merely-alleged, precipitated all kinds of bad things like the rise in divorce rates and the drop in SAT scores. If your dog has recently been sick, trust me, someone can trace it back to the 1960s Court.
There may be stories about the religious devotion of Colonial patriots and early-American leaders. We might be told, in the words of Pat Robertson, that the United States was "founded by Christians as a Christian Nation." And we might be challenged to reclaim the Christian political legacy that is ours here in the United States. If so, someone like Patrick Henry will replace the Apostle Paul, and voting will become more important than praying. Oh, that's provided you vote for the right (= Republican) candidate.
When it comes to disputing the historical and political myths associated with the so-called Christian Right, you can find yourself feeling like a mosquito at a nudist colony. You know what to do. You just don't know where to begin.
Here's the part that bothers me the most: to me, all of it appears to be accompanied by the assumption, even the demand, that American culture should be friendly toward, and weighted in favor of, Christianity. And why? Not because this is some sort of biblical mandate, but because some Christian people carry around in their imaginations that there was this time, a golden era, when the culture was clean and evangelism was easy because the government and the media were holding up their end of the bargain.
I've never found any of it convincing. Maybe I'll say more about this. I guess it depends on how it goes tonight. In the meantime, has anyone out there actually seen the series already? What did you think?