Religion and the News

I am reading about three things at the moment, but the one that has me the most locked in is Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity by Bruce Bower. I am still at the beginning, but a bunch of the news stories I was looking at this morning intersect with his ideas.

There are your typical “banned books” stories. Like the one in Mississippi, where the LIBRARIAN decided to pull copies of Jon Stewart’s America: The Book. My heart cringes.

And yet another battle over science, evolution, and creationism. People. Can’t we all just get along? Here is the link to the actual story, from Salon and here is the link to Bookslut’s take on it, which I especially love.

Finally there is Rep. Gerald Allen from Alabama who wants to pass a bill that would ban literature that contains a discussion or promotion of the gay lifestyle in textbooks, public libraries, and academic institutions. He also wants to ban the use of state funds that would go towards material that would “recognize or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws of Alabama.” (link from The Birmingham News)

When did I suddenly become a citizen in a religiously run country? I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus. However, my beliefs do not give me leave to decide how other people’s children should be taught or what other people should have access to at the public library and institutions of higher learning. If a parent rejects the teaching of evolution or the discussion of sexual preferences, it is up to them to have that discussion with their children. It is not the job of the state or nation to dictate what is right and wrong in a religious context. In Bower’s book, which I mentioned at the beginning of this post, he discusses how fundamentalist Christians/Christian Right have co-opted the notion of Jesus and Christianity to become defined by their mores and values. Jesus does not belong only to them. Neither does the curriculum which all students must study in school. They do not own the public sphere in which our libraries and public institutions rest. I do believe in inclusion and I realize that I am saying that my view is better than theirs; that my beliefs have more weight. The distinction is that I am not insisting that my view be the only one in the discourse. I want all the ideas to be present, not only my own, but the fundamentalists has the right to be heard as well. They just should not have the right to shut out everyone else’s opinions.

–Jane, is tired of people using religion as the reason for their atrocities, intellectual and otherwise