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GUEST COLUMN

We're lucky in United States that the Constitution trumps the Bible

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 10:22 am

The New Age religion of environmentalism has replaced America's origin in Judeo-Christianity, declared Donna Volmerding on Jan. 1. Is this a factual statement? No.

More than a century and a half following the “Planting Father's” (Frank Lambert) success in planting the Judeo-Christian ideology in the New World — after the spread of the skeptical scientific rationalism of the Enlightenment among colonial elites and after the Great Awakening challenged the authority of the established religious sects — a different set of national leaders, the Founding Fathers, came together to forge a new national secular compact.

Our founders, knowing the history of religious wars, called upon John Locke's and Jesus' command to separate Caesar and God — and they rejected any mention of God and Christianity in the secular Constitution, where human beings are not defined in terms of race, class, gender or religious belief.

The Constitution does not acknowledge our people's dependence on God or their past. But the founders created a framework by which all individuals would eventually be liberated from the inessential baggage of race, class, gender and religion. Blacks, women and gays have been degraded by American law for most of our history. The question in 2010 is “why?” The simple answer is religion.

Pew reports that all New Age religions in America make up less than one-half of one percentage point. Yet, “Evangelical Protestants make up 26.3 percent” of our population. Why is this important regarding Volmerding's right-wing prattle? The National Association of Evangelicals - “Green Soldiers for God” - is no New Age religion. And environmentalism is no religion — and, for the record, America is becoming more secular, like our founders intended. But “the world” is not, says Pew. Volmerding is just wrong.

I suppose if ideologues torture (pun intended) the facts long enough, they will tell them what they want to hear.

The Pew research tells readers that the fastest-growing religious group in America is people without any religious affiliation. But that doesn't mean the U.S. is experiencing a secular surge as in the U.K. and Germany. It does mean that some in this group (16.1 percent) are not atheists or agnostics; they are all unaffiliated, however.

Finally, many people of faith, like me, believe in a secular government, but we have a long way to go before the jettison of religion will take place.

Look, for example, at the status of blacks, women and gays. We're lucky here in the U.S. that our Constitution trumps the book of Leviticus, not to mention the entire Bible.

B.J. Paschal is a Ball State University professor emeritus.