Wednesday, January 26, 2005
I mean to be mostly literary in this forum, but from time to time I won't be able to keep myself from straying into the social and political realms. I did that on Day One, but I've been good since then. But today, in part because I just saw George Bush in a news conference on TV, I want to speak about my biggest worry, and that is the rise of Evangelicalism, or what I have dubbed the "Christian Taliban." It is the most important concern we face, I believe, because it not only affects how we live day to day--at least in my community, which is predominantly a deeply conservative one--but also because the political leadership in this country is infected, and guided, by the same disease. Intolerance. Arrogance. Belligerance. It is all part of the same problem. Here in Augusta County, Virginia, the disease is currently manifested in the debate over Weekly Religious Education, or WRE. It seems that school children are excused during the day once each week for 60-90 minutes to attend Bible study classes. With a signed note from a parent, children can opt out of this program, and this option is apparently what keeps the program from being a Constitutional violation. But the participating children and parents alike defend themselves from criticism of this coercive program by calling their detractors God-haters and Satan-lovers, and blaming all crime on the "removal of prayer from the schools." We are in the grip of an epidemic that I fear will never go away.