Teachers in public schools, to my current knowledge, are not allowed to teach Christianity, or more or less accurately, are not allowed to proselytize. People argue that this “great” nation was founded on Christian principles and are now destroying the very pillars upon which it was built by progressively excluding religion in the formulation and regulation of law. Though interesting and important as it is, this is not my debate. My argument here is that the democrat’s philosophy of law in relation to religion is erred and contradictory, and yet the way in which the republicans try to contend such error is not far from stupidity. The error in the former’s philosophy in their striving to exclude religion in the public square is, to be nice, naive. Yes, institutional religion can be excluded to some level of success, but religiosity or spirituality, the attempt to stop the permeation of such into the public square is like trying to strain salt from water (it’s not possible except through distillation, unless I’m forgetting some other complex chemical process, in which case, excuse my deficient analogy). The stupidity of republicans is seen in their tendency to belligerently fight head on. Trying to fit in creationism into the science classes to contend evolution. Just “fighting” the surface battles without knowing the underlying strategy. Leslie Newbigin, in A Word In Season, speaks of the West’s reaction to the religious zeal of Muslims and it sheds light on America’s bipartisan ignorance.
To Muslims, whose belief in the existence of God is not a matter of personally chosen values but the supreme fact, blasphemy is a terrible crime. For Western intellectuals, who have long ago ceased to believe that God really exist, the uproar is incomprehensible. Since the nation-state took the place of God in European thinking as the supreme disposer of health, wealth, and happiness, treason against the state is treated as the supreme crime, for which even democratic societies will award the death penalty. But blasphemy against God has no significance except that if offends the feelings of a few people who believe in him.
Newbigin points out the democratic freedom of religion only seems possible as long as the god in place is the nation itself. That is why the West takes blasphemy too lightly, and it is nowhere near treason, because blasphemy gives no insult to its true god, the nation-state. Whereas, the East, or at least the Islamic nations, possibly consider blasphemy worse than treason, or treason is subsumed under blasphemy (I am in no way condoning terror activity as a proper response to blasphemy). The real issue, then, in discussing religion and politics/law, is not which religion you believe but what is your god? Not everyone may have a religion, but everyone is religious (synonymous here with spiritual), this is our unchangeable nature, which our democratic culture wrongfully denies. I am not vying for the merging of the church and state, but the question still remains: How does the public law relate to religious law in a democracy? Which gets precedence? Priority?
To make the question more interesting, and to throw in a context different from American political philosophy, here’s an article about France banning the Islamic full veil in public. What if America banned the wearing of crosses in public (not that Christians are required to wear crosses)?