Scary stuff from from the First Amendment Center:
Sixty-five percent of Americans believe that the nation’s founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation and 55% believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation, according to the “State of the First Amendment 2007” national survey released today by the First Amendment Center.
Baby boomer that I am, my cold-war school days included topics such as the United States Constitution, including the value of religious tolerance. It was tolerance, not “Christian Nation” gobbledegook, that gave meaning to Plymouth Rock, so we were taught.
The First Amendment Center has been conducting an annual survey since 1997. This year’s survey was released to mark both Constitution Day (Sept. 17) activities and the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I’m glad the FAC is making this juxtaposition. Their survey shows more disturbing popular beliefs, including:
- Just 56% believe that the freedom to worship as one chooses extends to all religious groups, regardless of how extreme — down 16 points from 72% in 2000.
- Most respondents, 58%, say teachers in public schools should be allowed to lead prayers. That is an increase from 2005, when 52% supported teacher-led prayer in public schools.
- Half say teachers should be allowed to use the Bible as a factual text in history class.
As First Amendment Center Scholar David Hudson puts it:
“The survey results indicate the public does not have strong support for student expression — an unfortunate reality given that students may not appreciate our constitutional democracy if they live in an environment that does not respect their rights to freedom of expression. We all would do well to remember the words of Justice Robert Jackson many years ago: ‘That boards of education are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount principles of our government as mere platitudes.’”
Well, yeah. And Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, says the findings are particularly troubling during a week when the top diplomat in Iraq gave a report to Congress on progress toward achieving democracy there. “Americans are dying to create a secular democracy in Iraq, and simultaneously a growing number of people want to see a ‘Christian state’ here,” he said.
Hmmm… whose kool-aid have Americans been drinking?