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Religion and society beginning of the lesson

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  • 1. Religion and society in the USA since the 1890's
  • 2. Let’s first pay attention to this chart :
  • 3. Religion in America is remarquable in its high adherence level compared to others developped countries.
  • 4. You remember this : 1620, the Mayflower landing in the Massachusetts, and a colony was founded in Plymouth. Antonio Gisbert, The Arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers (1864)
  • 5. 10 years after the Mayflower, another group of English puritans, led by John Winthrop, founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. Extract of « A New Adam », 1st part of a PBS documentary series : God in America (12’41 to 15’03) Questions Who were exactly those « puritan immigrants »? What did they have in mind? Portrait of Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop, attributed to A. Van Dyck, 17th century.
  • 6. People like John Winthrop fled England because they had been persecuted for accusing their king of failing to cleanse (=to purify) the Church of England of catholic rituals. They had also been hounded as radicals for their fervor by the protestants. Puritans came in America with an ideal of pure biblical religion. They wanted to remake Christianity by bringing it back to the Bible, to its pure origins. That’s why they were told “puritans”. They thought they were like Hebrews, fleeing Pharaoh, crossing the Red Sea like during the biblical Exodus. They were a God chosen people founding a kingdom of God, a New Jerusalem… So religion is one of the most important reasons of the foundation of what was going to be the USA !
  • 7. But if religion is very present in the American society, the USA is a strongly secular (=laïc) state which lies on two main principles: liberty of religion and absolute neutrality of the state in the matter of religion. This is what Thomas Jefferson defined as the « wall of separation » in 1802, which itself was an interpretation of the « Bill of Rights » of 1791.
  • 8. The “Bill of Rights”, 1791 “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 the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” First amendment to the American constitution, 1791.
  • 9. Source 2: Jefferson's Wall of Separation Letter […] Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. [Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from prescribing even those occasional performances of devotion, practiced indeed by the Executive of another nation as the legal head of its church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.] Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties. […] Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Congress, January 1st, 1802
  • 10. In the USA, there are two contradictory forces alternating among periods: - The spirit of religion: this current is based on the most conservative protestants’ opinions and is based on the will to place civil order under Christian order (=tutelle). Here, it’s some sort of theocratic will. - The secular spirit: this current is defended by people who want religious neutrality for the State. In this case, religions considerations should be confined in the private sphere and churches (or any other place of worship).
  • 11. The USA has also specificity: the “civil religion”. This phenomenon of minimal religiosity associates all the Americans on: -the idea of a nation divinely inspired by God, -the idea of a centrality of the liberal ideal in the political organisation of the American Republic, -the clearly admitted project of spreading the enlightenments all around the world. (éclairer le monde, en gros) This “civil religion” is: - composed of a whole set of rites and a system of values - based on two registers: exaltation of the national greatness and valorisation of the Republican model.
  • 12. Before beginning, we have to explain some important things: Americans are mostly protestant
  • 13. Among the protestants, several churches exist, and knowing all of them and understanding their particularities is impossible, but something very important is the idea that anybody has the right to create his own church: for the protestants, there is neither official chief (no pope) nor hierarchy. Moreover, this majority of protestants can explain the high religious tolerance of the USA, where a lot of groups are considered religious groups whereas in Europe they would only be considered sects.
  • 14. → How religion and society are mainly linked in the American secular and religious pluralist state?
  • 15. I) Religion and the industrial society A) Religion and ideas: has religion been opposed to science and to modernism since 1890? 1) Let's introduce this topic with the Scopes trial. The Scopes Trial was a legal case in 1925 in which a high school teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's law (Butler Act), which made it unlawful to teach evolution in any state-funded school. →let's read two points of view, and pay attention to their arguments:
  • 16. Science is a magnificent force, but it is not a teacher of morals. It can perfect machinery, but it adds no moral restraints to protect society from the misuse of the machine. […] In war, science has proven itself an evil genius; it has made war more terrible than it ever was before. [...] It is for the jury to determine whether this attack upon the Christian religion shall be permitted in the public schools of Tennessee by teachers employed by the state and paid out of the public treasury. This case is no longer local,[it has] has assumed the proportions of a battle-royal between unbelief that attempts to speak through so-called science and the defenders of the Christian faith, speaking through the legislators of Tennessee. It is again a choice between God and Baal; it is also a renewal of the issue in Pilate's court... Again force and love meet face to face, and the question, "What shall I do with Jesus?" must be answered. A bloody, brutal doctrine—Evolution—demands, as the rabble did nineteen hundred years ago, that He be crucified. That cannot be the answer of this jury representing a Christian state and sworn to uphold the laws of Tennessee. Your answer will be heard throughout the world; it is eagerly awaited by a praying multitude. If the law is nullified, there will be rejoice wherever God is repudiated, the savior scoffed at and the Bible ridiculed. Every unbeliever of every kind and degree will be happy. If, on the other hand, the law is upheld and the religion of the school children protected, millions of Christians will call you blessed and, with hearts full of gratitude to God, will sing again that grand old song of triumph: "Faith of our fathers, living still, In spite of dungeon, fire and sword; O how our hearts beat high with joy Whene'er we hear that glorious word--- Faith of our fathers—Holy faith; We will be true to thee till death!" William Jennings Bryan
  • 17. Science is a magnificent force, but it is not a teacher of morals. It can perfect machinery, but it adds no moral restraints to protect society from the misuse of the machine. […] In war, science has proven itself an evil genius; it has made war more terrible than it ever was before. [...] What's his point of view about science? It is for the jury to determine whether this attack upon the Christian religion shall be permitted in the public schools of Tennessee by teachers employed by the state and paid out of the public treasury. This case is no longer local,[it has] has assumed the proportions of a battle-royal between unbelief that attempts to speak through so-called science and the defenders of the Christian faith, speaking through the legislators of Tennessee. It is again a choice between God and Baal; it is also a renewal of the issue in Pilate's court... Is it only a religious to face, and the question, "What shall I do with stake? Again force and love meet faceand local problem? What is actually atJesus?" must be answered. A bloody, brutal doctrine—Evolution—demands, as the rabble did nineteen hundred years ago, that He be crucified. That cannot be the answer of this jury representing a Christian state and sworn to uphold the laws of Tennessee. Your answer will be heard throughout the world; it is eagerly awaited by a praying multitude. If the law is nullified, there will be rejoice wherever God is repudiated, the savior scoffed at and the Bible ridiculed. Every unbeliever of every kind and degree will be happy. If, on the other hand, the law is upheld and the religion of the school children protected, millions of Christians will call you blessed and, with hearts full of gratitude to God, will sing again that grand old song of triumph: "Faith of our fathers, living still, In spite of dungeon, fire and sword; O how our hearts beat high with joy Whene'er we hear that glorious word--- Faith of our fathers—Holy faith; We will be true to thee till death!" William Jennings Bryan
  • 18. W.-J. Bryan was one of the prosecutors. He began to say that science needs morality, otherwise it leads to war. According to him, teaching evolution was not only a religious problem but a social problem because teachers were paid by the state. Moreover, accepting evolutionism would mean to repudiate God, to kill the Christ anew, for all the Christians around the world.
  • 19. If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. [...] After a while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man [...] until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind. Clarence Darrow (13 July 1925) What are the arguments of the defense? For God's sake let the chidren have their minds kept open -- close no doors to their knowledge; shut no door from them. Make the distinction between theology and science. Let them have both. Let them both be taught. Let them both live.... Dudley Field Malone (15 July 1925)
  • 20. Darrow and Malone were two of the three men speaking for Scopes. The defense advocated for freedom of teaching, for separating religion and science: « let children have both ». They finally focused on the possible compatibility between the Bible and evolutionism. On the last day of the trial, Darrow had an unusual idea: he asked to an expert of the Bible to testify... and called Bryan ! Bryan was not used to that kind of debate: he knew the Bible very well but he was not a theologian, and he made a mistake saying that a day in the Bible was not necessary a 24-hour day... thus admitting that the Bible could be metaphorical !
  • 21. Darrow and Bryan
  • 22. The trial set modernists, who said evolution was consistent with religion, against fundamentalists who said the word of God as revealed in the Bible took priority over all human knowledge. How did it happen?
  • 23. Since the middle of the 19th century, there had been many scientific discovers. Some Christians began to advocate for a new reading of the Bible, which could no longer be litterally read. Still believing in God, many people accepted « modernism ».
  • 24. But some others, like William Bryan (who had been three times a democrate candidate for the presidency), disagreed and decided to defend America against the onslaught (assaut) of modernity. To face the poverty of the slums, the horror of WW1, they decided to go back to religious texts and called themselves « fundamentalists ». Above all, they could not accept Darwinism, for whom humans were not a special creation of God. With Bryan leading the charge, fundamentalists launched a nationwide campaign to ban the teaching of evolution in America's schools: so was voted the Butler Act in 1922.
  • 25. In 1925, the American Civil Liberties Union, which advocated for the teaching of evolution, asked a young teacher, Scopes, to plead guilty to teaching the theory of evolution. ... But who won?
  • 26. It depends what we call « win » The judge was clearly supporting Bryan: -scientists called by Darrow were not allowed to testify -the testimony of Bryan about the Bible was erased from the records... And Scopes was found guilty. Teaching evolution remained illegal in Tenessee until 1967 (and also in several other states).
  • 27. But the important media coverage of the trial was mostly against Bryan, against such an old-fashioned religion, non suitable with the modern world. Some jornalists, like H. L. Mencken, were very hard against Bryan: “Bryan was a vulgar and common man, a cad undiluted. He was ignorant, bigoted, self-seeking, blatant and dishonest. His career brought him into contact with the first men of his time; he preferred the company of rustic ignoramuses.… Imagine a gentleman, and you have imagined everything that he was not.”
  • 28. Many liberal Christians saw nothing incompatible between Darwinism and religion. For them, science just made God even greater. Moreover, Bryan wanted to launch a national crusade after the trial, but he died one week later. Fundamentalists decided to abandon Bryan's public crusade, and decided to build their own subculture.
  • 29. So the great divide in America in the 19th century had been about slavery. Scopes marks a different religious divide, between people who believe in a literal and traditional reading of their sacred texts, and people who don't, between the fundamentalists on the one hand, and the modernizers on the other.
  • 30. 2) Religion and science from the Scopes Trial to nowadays Dealing with this topic would need a one-year lesson: we are just going to focus on some aspects. After WW2, many decisions of the Supreme Court insisted on the separation of Church and State. In 1948, the power of a state to use its tax-supported public school system in aid of religious instruction was denied (McCollum vs. Board of Education case)
  • 31. Here is another example: Engel v. Vitale case Facts of the Case: The Board of Regents for the State of New York authorized a short, voluntary prayer for recitation at the start of each school day. This was an attempt to defuse the politically potent issue by taking it out of the hands of local communities. The blandest of invocations read as follows: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and beg Thy blessings upon us, our teachers, and our country." Question: Does the reading of a nondenominational prayer at the start of the school day violate the « establishment of religion » clause of the First Amendment? Conclusion: Yes. Neither the prayer's nondenominational character nor its voluntary character saves it from unconstitutionality. By providing the prayer, New York officially approved religion. Supreme Court archives, 1962 → This was the first in a series of cases in which the Court used the establishment clause to eliminate religious activities of all sorts, which had traditionally been a part of public ceremonies.
  • 32. But it did not mean that creationism was disapearing.
  • 33. [Evolution] has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed. But if it was going to be taught in the schools, then I think that also the biblical theory of creation, which is not a theory but the biblical story of creation, should also be taught. Ronald Reagan, Press conference at evangelical event in Dallas, Texas. (22 August 1980, Reagan is then a candidate for presidency) → who was the author? → what were his ideas ?
  • 34. Fundamentalists now decided to talk about « intelligent design ». They were not allowed to teach « ID » as a science, so they argued that evolutionism is only a theory which can be criticized... It has been supported at the highest level of the State, eg president R. Reagan in the 80's,
  • 35. ...or more recently, Sarah Palin, who was a candidate to vice-presidency in 2008, said in 1997 that humans and dinosaurs coexisted 4000 years ago... ! (she was part of Young Earth, the most fundamentalist creationist group)
  • 36. In the United States, the states of Texas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Missouri, South Carolina, and Alabama require in their science standards « students critically analyze key aspects of evolutionary theory ». Two other states, Louisiana and Mississippi, have adopted legislation allowing teachers and students to discuss scientific evidence critical of evolution. Be sure to understand what it means... in what curse do this debates take place ?
  • 37. Not in philosophy or sociology, but in science !!!
  • 38. Example: on March 27, 2009, the Texas Board of Education, by a vote of 13 to 2, voted that at least in Texas, textbooks must teach intelligent design alongside evolution, and question the validity of the fossil record. Don McLeroy, a dentist and chair of the board, said, "I think the new standards are wonderful ... dogmatism about evolution [has sapped] America's scientific soul."...!!!
  • 39. Of course, there is also a strong opposition to these ideas, eg professor Richard Dawkins who ardently opposed the inclusion of « intelligent design » in science education which he has described as an "educational scandal".
  • 40. But we are talking about the public educational system...Don't forget that religious ideas are defended by a large number of private schools and universities, eg Oral Robert University.
  • 41. There, everything you study (law, science,business...) is connected to religion
  • 42. Founded in 1963 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this christian university has been teaching to future influencial people, such as Michele Bachman, who ran for presidency in 2012. The leader of Lakewood church Joel Osteen also studied (his smile ?) there.
  • 43. You can also find creationist museums, like this one in Petersburg, Kentucky, which opened in 2007.
  • 44. So, what are the results in the American opinion?
  • 45. In 2006, a poll was commissioned by the Discovery Institute (creationist) : -biology teachers should teach Darwin's theory of evolution, but also "the scientific evidence against it" : 69% sided with this view. -biology teachers should teach only Darwin's theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it : 21% Even if the poll's results may be called into question, because the wording of the poll question implies that significant scientific evidence against evolution exists to be taught, … so let's take another poll :
  • 46. Here is a poll with a more neutral question: comment on this chart
  • 47. According to this poll (2008), only 40% of Americans were accepting the scientific truth about the origin of the human being... Among 18 countries, the USA ranked 17, just before Turkey,... but the USA are still leaders in innovation, which seems to be a strong paradox to us: there seem to be different ways of being « modern » !