Thursday, March 02, 2006


Francis Beckwith's Fallacious Reasoning

"Francis J. Beckwith, associate director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies and associate professor of church-state studies at Baylor University, told a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary forum that the striking down of a policy based solely on the religious motives of its adherents is 'logically fallacious and constitutionally suspect,'” according to a report in the Florida Baptist Witness.
To focus on the religious motives of citizens involved in a legal dispute, Beckwith said, commits a logical error and may in fact be a violation of the free exercise of religion clause in the First Amendment.

What Beckwith's analysis ignores is that these citizens were acting in their capacity as elected officials. In effect, the Dover school board set up a state approved religion when it mandated that a statement on intelligent design be read to students. The Dover school board's actions were unconstitutional because they curtailed the free exercise of religion of all the other citizens of that community by subjecting their children to Christian fundamentalist religious indoctrination.

The constitution grants religious freedom to all believers, not just Christian fundamentalists. Free exercise of religion for fundamentalists doesn't mean the rest of us have to kneel before their God or their beliefs.


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