Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Brooks on McConnell

David Brooks has a nice piece on, among other things, Michael McConnell. McConnell takes a sophisticated view of what constitutes religion under the First Amendment, and says that the Constitution requires that the government be neutral towards religious and secular viewpoints:
McConnell argued that government shouldn't be separated from religion, but, as Madison believed, should be neutral about religion. He pointed out that the fire services and the police don't just protect stores and offices, but churches and synagogues as well. In the same way, he declared in Congressional testimony in 1995, "When speech reflecting a secular viewpoint is permitted, then speech reflecting a religious viewpoint should be permitted on the same basis." The public square shouldn't be walled off from religion, but open to a plurality of viewpoints, secular and religious. The state shouldn't allow school prayer, which privileges religion, but public money should go to religious and secular service agencies alike.
Government should not establish or give preference to any form of creation science that is driven by theology. But in the same way, when evolutionary theory veers away from science and into the realms of philosophy and religion, government should treat it as such. Teaching the controversy, in the form of presenting just the scientific evidence for and against evolution, is the best way for government to be neutral regarding the teaching of evolution in the public schools.


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