Breaking The Wedge: Church and State

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Breaking the Wedge Justice Felix Frankfurter stated in his opinion in McCollum v. Board of Education, "We have staked the very existence of our country on the faith that complete separation between the state and religion is best for the state and best for religion. If nowhere else, in the relation between Church and State, good fences make good neighbors." (Moore 1) For the last century in America and ideological war has been fought in our legislatures, courts, and schools. Some parts of the fundamentalist Christian movement have tried repeatedly to prevent the teaching of the Darwinian theory of evolution in public schools because they see it as a threat to their religious beliefs. Darwin's theory posits that species evolve over eons of time, changing in ancestor-descendant relationships from one species to another. This is often perceived as standing in direct conflict with the Bible account of the creation of the world as told in Genesis, which states that the world is only a few millennia old and that god created man and all of the species of animals in a single epoch. The latest battle in this conflict is over the theory of Intelligent Design (ID). Robert Weitzel states that "IDers maintain that life is too complex to have developed solely by evolutionary mechanisms. They believe this complexity could only have been engineered by an intelligent designer. Strategically, they refrain from identifying the nature of the designer. This tactic is designed to give their notion of creation a patina of scientific credibility and protection from First Amendment challenges" (1). Intelligent Design advocates have pushed forward on many fronts to try and introduce it into school curricula all over the country and they are meeting with a measure of success and a good deal of popular support. While the ID movement enjoys wide support from the populace, especially in traditionally conservative areas, it is imperative that the teaching of Intelligent Design is kept out of public school curricula because of the separation that must be maintained between religion and state. The First Amendment to our Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" (The Bill of Rights: A Transcription).

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