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Separation of Church and State on NPR3 min read

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Today’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross features two interviews from opposite sides of this issue (audio should be posted by 3PM EST).  The first half hour was an interview with Dr. D. James Kennedy, pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian megachurch Coral Ridge Ministries, which includes his organization called The Center for Reclaiming America.

Kennedy claimed:

  • The framers recommended that leaders should be Christians (great quote from John Jay)
  • He is opposed to evolution in part because it is the foundation for atheistic and secular governments, which inevitably lead to oppression and persecution.   He alluded to the link between evolution and eugenics as well.  He made a really interesting point that if our rights come from a Creator, then they can’t be taken away by man.  But if you deny a creator, then rights are determined by, and can be justifiably taken away by men.
  • He voiced strong opposition to a theocracy, but unfortunately, did not describe the difference between his view of faith in politics and theocracy. Someone in the religious right needs to describe this.
The second guest was Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy And Democracy.  He was definitely from the opposite extreme.  He made some interesting points, although he was also a bit negative.  He said:
  • The mentions of God and the Creator in the Declaration are not that important because it was a political document, aimed at stirring up opposition to English Colonial rule.  It was written 20 years before the documents that actually set up the structure of our government, that is, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which do not mention God.
  • He remarked that the 6th article of the Bill of Rights is one that the "Christian Right" does not like to talk about – it specifies that no religious litmus test can be used for those seeking public office.
  • Unfortunately, he also displayed his unctrollable cynicism and disgust with his opposition by calling D. James Kennedy a liar, and by twice deriding the tired whipping boys of liberal news, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (the latter whom he twice mislabeled as Baptist).
Finally, there was a really intersting piece by Geoff Nunberg, linguist and author of Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Controversial Times.  He had an excellent essay on why the color red is now associated with conservatism, when it used to be used for Communism, and blue used to be used for conservatism.