If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Make ‘Em Join You
Fast on the heels of the recent victories for “Intelligent Design” curriculum in public schools, comes the increasing popularity of this creationist meme, today transmitted by Rod Tussing
, in The Arizona Republic
: “Darwinism is an ‘interpretation’ of the world and its origin and, therefore, qualifies as a religion. Isn’t that what a religion does — interprets and explains the meaning of the world?” So it’s that simple! If you can’t effectively argue against the separation of church and state, just declare science and secularism their own religions, and their adherents just another sect of the faithful (except at election time), who are benefiting from an unconstitutional government preference of one religion over another. The Revealer
is made a little dizzy by this logic, but we do wonder whether this qualifies our science club for faith-based initiative funds (we’ll do outreach), or that bastion of secular values, Hollywood, for tax-exempt status.
In ruling that a “Torah-observering” Georgia prisoner may wear his yarmulke at all times and be served kosher food, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has become the fourth federal court to uphold the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act
, which requires state prisons to grant prisoners unrestricted exercise of religion. Georgia’s Attorney General had asked the court to review whether the 2000 federal law was in violation of the Establishment Clause and Tenth Amendment (states’ rights), but the Atlanta court declared that Congress conditioned federal funds on the accomodation of prisoners’ religion, so long as the accommodation doesn’t endorse a particular religion. The only court to find the Act unconstitutional was a Cincinnati appeals court reviewing a case brought by a Satanist and several polytheists.
Help Us Make a Better List
The New York Times Book Review has just published its annual list of 100 notable booksfrom the past year, and it includes only three nonfiction titles directly addressing religion — Robert Alter’s new translation of the Pentateuch, a worthy but hardly groundbreaking volume; a biography of Graham Greene, whom some consider to have been a religious writer; and Tony Hendra’s Father Joe, a memoir of a priest who inspired him — but didn’t prevent him from becoming estranged from his daughter, who has very publicly declared that the book is a lie that covers up Hendra’s sexual predations.
A few books deal with religion in passing — Tom Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas; two more tomes on the Holocaust; and several books about the “war on terror” that treat religion as nearly irrelevant. Meanwhile, publishing about religion is at an all-time high; the U.S. is engaged in a global conflict that many abroad and at home see as a holy war; and the major issues of the day revolve around questions many, if not most, interpret through religious lenses.
So help The Revealer make a better list. Send us your suggestions of books about “religion,” broadly-defined. Books journalists should have on their shelves. Books religious people should read to learn about other people’s faiths. Books that reveal religion in the world, and the world in religion.