Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Guess This Means I'm Officially European

Roger Cohen, guest columnist at the Times while Nicholas Kristoff is on book leave, has an excellent column this morning about the merits of secular Europe, titled (conveniently enough) "Secular Europe's Merits".

He says, "Europeans still take the Enlightenment seriously enough not to put it inside quote marks. They have long found an inspiring reflection of it in the first 16 words of the American Bill of Rights of 1791: 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'"

Meanwhile, America is falling into theocracy. Think that's too harsh a view? Consider this.
  • Republican front-runner Mike Huckabee doesn't believe in evolution.
  • Mitt Romney believes that freedom requires religion. (As Cohen so eloquently puts it, "secular Sweden is free, while religious Iran is not."
  • 54% of Americans DO NOT believe that humans involved independently from other species. (Harris Interactive Poll)
  • 44% of Americans, according to Sam Harris, believe that Jesus will return in the next fifty years - 22% are sure of it. This means that for every five people you know, one of them is convinced that Jesus is a comin' within their lifetime. Do you think this influences voting and national policy? I would think so.
This worries me. It really does. I want to come back to America and go to grad school and raise a family, but not surrounded by nutjobs. Jefferson, who wrote the First Amendment, believed in a wall of separation between church and state. Kennedy believed that the separation of church and state should be "absolute."

The founding fathers didn't even think that the Congress should have a chaplain, and now we have people running for president on the platform of America as Christian Nation.

It's strange. Living in Europe has made me appreciate America more, but it's as much (if not more) what America could be if it lived up to its principles and didn't allow itself to be hijacked by religiosity and Orwellian flag-waving* as it is what I actually miss about America. I want to get my Ph.D. so I can teach kids how to think for themselves, rather than have thoughts dumped into their heads from authority. I just don't want it to be a Sisyphean task.


* Calling America "The Homeland" still sounds very 1984/Third Reich to me, and it just creeps me out.

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