28 May 2015

Denying The Establishment Clause

A Colorado teacher is suing his school district claiming the district's only high school "operates largely to promote the evangelical Christian ideals" of a local church that operates in the school. Robert Basevitz's lawsuit against the Fremont Re-2 School District was filed Tuesday in federal court in Denver. . . . Randy Pfaff, the pastor of The Cowboy Church at Crossroads, said he will not apologize for being in Florence High School. 
"I don't believe the Constitution was meant to keep God out of the schools. That's absolutely absurd," Pfaff told The Denver Post on Tuesday in a phone interview. "This nation was founded on Christianity."
From the Denver Post.

This case is typical of church and state separation lawsuits, and arises in one of the most conservative counties in the state that is home to one of the largest prison complexes in the country.

The striking point of the story to me is that Reverend Randy Pfaff shares the common Evangelical Christian conservative view that there is no such thing as a First Amendment establishment clause (something that the North Carolina state legislature has also futilely attempted to do), and that: "This nation was founded on Christianity", which are deeply at odds with the legal and historical reality respectively.

The First Amendment, with a free exercise clause, but not the establishment clause, however, is a very different balance of freedom of religion that the one that the United States has adopted.

This disregard for reality extends beyond law and history.  Among scientists, many have some form of religious belief, but very few, relative to the general population are Evangelical Christians, because the bridge between theology and scientific truth is particular wide for this religious group.

For better or worse, Evangelical Christianity of this type is largely an American invention.  It is almost entirely absent from Europe and probably makes up a minority of non-European, non-American Christians.

It is, however, a vital faith, suffering far less of a decline than mainstream Protestant Christianity in the United States and Europe in recent decades.

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