Friday, March 24, 2006



Red State Rabble, being somewhat frail and elderly -- having once expected not to live to 30, we now find ourselves pushing nearly twice that -- we go early to bed, because we are early to rise.

Because we retire early, we have to Tivo the Daily Show and watch it the following day. So, it wasn't until last night that we watched the now famous video of President Bush being asked whether or not a belief in a coming Armageddon led to his decision to invade Iraq.

Like other residents of the reality based universe, we were highly amused by the president's bumbling avoidance of answering the question. Then we began thinking about what Bush's embarrassment revealed.

Like many others, we always thought it impolite to discuss religion, which we were brought up to think of as a private matter, in public. Until recently, it would have never crossed our minds to criticize the religious beliefs of others, no matter how bizarre we found them.

That all changed for us when fundamentalists took their religious beliefs out of the churches and thrust them into the political arena in order to write them into our laws.

The fact is, fundamentalists have counted on our discomfort at challenging their beliefs in public. And, in a cold, calculating sort of way, they've used that discomfort to advance their narrow political agenda.

Phillip Johnson, the father of intelligent design, has said quite openly that the movement's strategy has been to change the subject, or to:
Get the Bible and the Book of Genesis out of the debate because you do not want to raise the so-called Bible-science dichotomy. Phrase the argument in such a way that you can get it heard in the secular academy and in a way that tends to unify the religious dissenters. That means concentrating on, "Do you need a Creator to do the creating, or can nature do it on its own?" and refusing to get sidetracked onto other issues, which people are always trying to do."

Many well-intentioned scientists and educators have fallen into this trap by trying to defend science without pushing creationists and intelligent design propagandists to defend the bizarre ideas that lie hidden behind their "teach the controversy" and "critical analysis" rhetoric.

As Kevin Phillip, the author of American Theocracy, points out, rapture, end-times, and Armageddon "are difficult for politicians to acknowledge—and they are especially tricky to discuss publicly."

Bush's discomfort at answering the Armageddon question in Cleveland shows just how tricky it can be. That's why the defense of science education and separation of church and state demands that we relentlessly point the spotlight at the beliefs the radical religious right wishes to keep out of sight.

Rapture, end times, and Armageddon are the crazy aunt creationists and intelligent design proponents have hidden in the attic. It's time to set her free.


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