NY Times Op-Ed: Faithful Tennessee Christian Calls Foul on State Legislature

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It's no secret that the Republican-controlled state legislature has been on a rampage to turn the clocks back several centuries, between opening the door to teaching religious doctrine in public schools and trying to warn children of the slippery slope of hand-holding. While we take no pleasure in witnessing the half-cocked insanity that goes on at the Capitol, it does at the very least provide us plenty of blog fodder.

Of course, there are some folks who take our coverage with a grain of salt — we being the heathen liberal media, after all. But this op-ed in Saturday's New York Times, from a self-described faithful Christian, really hits the nail on the head, describing how our Tennessee state senators and representatives pander to conservative Christians — and strive to put an end to the religious freedoms their forefathers fought to ensure. It's one of the most thoughtful, succinct and well-written takedowns of our state legislature you're likely to read. And I guess that should be no surprise, since it was penned by critically acclaimed author (Bloodroot) and Morristown, Tenn., resident Amy Greene.

A few excerpts from the op-ed, titled "God and Man in Tennessee":

Meanwhile Bo Watson, the Republican state senator who sponsored the creationism law, claims the legislation is meant to encourage students to challenge the merits of current scientific thought, and to protect teachers who might criticize evolution in the process; he also stresses that the bill prohibits teachers from interjecting their personal beliefs.

But a belief in “intelligent design” is by nature personal and not scientific. These teachers are in our classrooms because they meet the state’s standards for instructing our children in science, not to tell them about God.

Everyone knows the law’s true intent. It’s easy to see how this bill might open the door for teachers to discuss their own religious views in the classroom; given the impassioned feelings most of us here have about our faith, it would be hard for them to hold back.

By politicizing our faith in this way, Mr. Watson and others assume as well that we all vote Republican. As if, despite the religious diversity we come from, all Tennessee Christians believe and want the same things. Or worse, that we should want the same things, based on what they tell us it means to be a Christian. ...

They claim their goal is to better our education system, and to give us more freedom of religious thought in the bargain. But it seems to me they’re taking away the individualist liberties we’ve always prized and giving us more government regulation instead.

I fear that these bills, written to give us what they think we want, will have the opposite effect. By legislating our Christianity, what they’re really doing is taking it away from us.

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