Just Because It's June
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jun 19, 2009 at 12:25:21 PM EST
June is busting out all over!

Well, more to the point -- heated objections to  a proposal for a New Progressive Vision of Church and State (that will be discussed at Netroots Nation in August) are busting out all over -- and its only June!

The objections started on Wednesday when I announced my participation here. By yesterday, science blogger PZ Myers had pounced on the panel proposal calling it "bizarre" and headlining his post (which generated hundreds of comments): "Netroots Nation Dives into Inanity."

I'd like to know who came up with this garbage -- it reeks of the Jim Wallis/Amy Sullivan camp of liberal theocrats, although neither is actually on the panel.
Then Joshua Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education piled on agreeing with Myers that the proposal is "bizarre" and  that as a conference panel organizer himself, added:

NrN instructed panel organizers to look for ways to generate heated discussion, claiming that attendees last year found too much me-tooishness on panels. I didn't find that, and liked that genuinely stupid ideas were absent from panels (at least the ones I attended). But it's their conference, and the contrary voices they've got on that panel (and on others, I'm sure) are serious people who will hold their own.

This panel is a bad idea only because the abstract will give opponents of church-state separation ammunition of the "even the liberal Netroots Nation sez..." variety. But the panel itself is sure to be heated... and I'm looking forward to seeing the fight.

Well, now that the pies are already flying I am not sure if people will be weary of the fight before it even takes place. (Or whether we will all be so covered with colorful fillings and mottled with hunks of crust that we will not be able to speak.) On the other hand, maybe actually by then we will be able to hear ourselves think.

There has been a great deal of bad thinking about such matters for a long time from all sectors, including Democrats and progressives, as I wrote in an essay in The Public Eye last year. Some Democrats say we should not even be talking about separation of church and state. Political consultant Eric Sapp, for example wrote just before the 2006 mid-term elections:

In case anyone doesn't know, [the phrase] "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution. It shouldn't be in our vocabulary as Democrats either.

I don't know if our panel at Netroots Nation will improve the quality of our conversation in these areas or not. I hope it will.  

But at least we are talking about it.

(For the record, since not all of the panel info has been posted yet, the proposal we are discussing is by law professor Bruce Ledewitz of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Responding will be ACLU attorney Vic Walczak (who litigated Kitzmiller vs. Dover, the landmark "intelligent design" case); Rev. Kyoki Roberts, a prominent Zen Buddhist, Rev. Chuck Freeman, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Austin, Texas, and radio broadcaster; and me.)




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