http://www.thisamericanlife.org/…/episo…/290/godless-america This is a podcast from about a decade ago that highlights issues of separation of church and state and talks about the conversation in America at the time regarding that issue. I clicked on it because I'm running out of recent podcasts to listen to, but it's gotten me thinking about all the ways America has changed in the last decade regarding religious values and all the ways we haven't. I wonder what our country will look like in ten more years.
What differences do you think have occurred?
If I am not mistaken, 2005 is before the "New Atheists" exploded into prominence. The End of Faith by Sam Harris is copyright 2004, but The God Delusion and Breaking The Spell (by Dawkins and Daniel Dennet, respectively) are from 2006, and God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens is 2007. Letter To A Christian Nation is from 2006.
Based on the podcast I think a major difference is in the example set by the president--I was just a kid when Bush was in office, and I didn't have a real grasp of how thoroughly he disregarded separation of church and state. Of course, the president is about to change again next year.
And then I was thinking about how common or rare it might be now and in the future for schools to so actively oppose national standards of teaching by excluding evolution from the classroom, for example, or by teaching Bible stories or by leading prayers. I was raised in a private Christian school and looking back I'm amazed at some of the things my teachers told me under the guise of authority, not just the standard Bible stories but things like "Christians only vote Republican, if you vote Democrat when you grow up God doesn't like that," or "Christians are at war with the secular world, and we are constantly discriminated against and persecuted"--when you're that young those things make a huge impression, and it's so important to get early schooling right, but at least ten years ago it was all too common for even public schools to, again, go against national standards in order to push their own narrative. I like to think that the same prevalence of video and general lack of privacy that's been shedding light on police brutality and racism recently might come into play here enough that the country can catch that kind of thing more often when it happens, but I really don't know if it is still happening or if it will be in another decade. And in the mean time, I feel like that's a huge disservice to the people that make up our nation, that so many people might live their entire lives with a lack of understanding of some very basic principles of science and history that they had the right to learn in grade school.
And thank you for those dates, I hadn't realized how closely together all those texts came out.