Over the years the debate about how much public expression of religion is to be allowed in various settings often has produced more heat than light.
The problem is that many people -- including authorities who should know better -- are ignorant of what the Constitution and current case law allows in this area. So I sometimes hear people saying that public school teachers aren't even allowed to mention that some people believe in God. Oh, puh-leeze.
Well, there's additional help now available for ignorant people (and we all fall into that category in various ways on this subject).
A new document should help. It's called "Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law." We'd all do well to read it and download a copy to refer to from time to time.
It was produced by a wide-ranging committee representing groups all over the religious map -- groups that often don't agree on what the law should say. But this document isn't about the law should say. It's about what the law now says. And it's easy to read. It poses -- and answers -- 35 questions about this area.
Charles C. Haynes, a member of the group that produced the document and an excellent writer about this area of the law, has written this column describing the work and how it was produced. I commend it to you.
The question of what current law says about public expression of religion is always changing. So it would be a good idea if this group were to update this document each year or two.
By the way, you might advance the public's knowledge if you'd make a copy of this new document and give it to any public school administrators you know.
* * *
WHY IS ROBERTSON'S GOD SO ANGRY?
Maybe all of you are tired of hearing about the Rev. Pat Robertson's stupefyingly fatuous theology, most recently on display in his comment that the earthquake in Haiti was punishment from God for a pact with the devil that Haitians supposedly made 200 years ago. But I thought this commentary pretty well summed up what is so objectionable about Robertson's view of God. The reality, of course, is that no one can prove or disprove what Robertson said in this case or in previous cases when his mouth ran way ahead of his brain. But I will say as a Christian that the God whom Robertson's theology describes does not reflect the God I have come to know most fully in Jesus Christ.
* * *
P.S.: From 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18, I'll be teaching a Communiversity class on essay writing at in the Witherspoon Room of Second Presbyterian Church, 55th and Oak. For the Communiversity catalog entry about the class, click here and then scroll down to page 14.