Stephen A. Lonsdale
From: "Stephen A. Lonsdale"
To: "Cliff Walker" <email@example.com>
Subject: Religious right
Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 14:22:26 -0400
The religious right are screaming that prayer should be brought back into the school system in light of the Colorado massacre. They claim that morality can only be found in religious teachings. In fact the assistant chancellor of the Dioceses of Camden New Jersey claims that morals are absolute and that those in authority should communicate them. Putting aside for the moment, the fact that morals have not been proved to be absolute, it is interesting to note that while the moral majority wishes to censor music, movies and the internet, they will not pass a bill in the Senate requiring background checks on gun buyers at gun shows. The powerful NRA did not even cancel or postpone their meeting in Denver in deference to the Colorado incident. But what is this "absolute morality" of which they speak? Could it be of the same stuff that the Iranian government used to justify the ban on female cyclists as it is offensive to the morals of Islam? Do they advocate the burning of heretics at the stake? It may be of some assistance for them to research findings indicating a negative correlation between morality and religion. For example; Hirschi and Stark (1969) showed in their report no difference for the likelihood of committing a crime between children who attend church and those who do not. There are many such reports and I will list just one more that is the textbook, Psychology of Religion (1991) by David Wulf which shows a correlation between religion and ethnocentrism, authoritarianism dogmatism and prejudice against Jews and Afro-Americans.
The common fact in all of these tragic shootings is that the youths involved felt alienated from the mainstream student body and perhaps society in general. That they felt so strongly about being rejected and ridiculed they chose to kill is truly an immense tragedy. I do not think reinforcing the body politic of the mainstream will do anything but widen the gulf between those who conform and those who do not.
Perhaps more emphasis on core curriculum's such as math, science, English composition, and critical thinking and less emphasis on team sports, driving education classes, social studies and other light weight courses might be more appropriate. This may especially be so in light of the fact that in 1993 American students came dead last in science in a study of science students throughout the world.
This may be brought into sharp focus when one time presidential nominee Pat Buchanan stated to Sam Donaldson on ABC's This Week, "I think (parents) have a right to insist that Godless evolution not be taught to their children or their children not be indoctrinated in it."
Evolution is the underpinning of biology and as sound a theory as the Copernican theory that the Earth rotates around the Sun or Newton's theory of Gravity.
We are truly slipping toward the Dark Ages assisted by people such as Pat Buchanan and Christian Fundamentalists, Islamic and Jewish Fundamentalists and the New Age charlatans who, rather than keep their beliefs to themselves as is their right, wish to dictate to the rest of us in areas such as morality and knowledge.
Stephen A. Lonsdale
I would agree except for the part about reducing social studies. I think the study of history is crucial to a balanced outlook. Perhaps with some serious, hard-hitting historical study, young people could more easily see that they certainly are not the only ones who have felt alientated. What history shows is what some alienated people have done to address this feeling and, ultimately, to make improvements to their world, and to our world too.
Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.