Friday, March 28, 2008

Is Intelligent Design a threat to Liberal Ideology? UPDATED

Updated Saturday 27 April, see additional response at bottom.

The following trailer of Ben Stein's upcoming film EXPELLED has been making its way around cyber-space. The film attempts to make the case that there are those in academia who do not want the idea of "Intelligent design" considered by the scientific community. It smells like religion to them and runs contrary to neo-Darwinian dogma, which considers us and all creation a cosmic accident!

Check out the trailer see what you think


Thanks for your note.

Despite Ben Stein's worried comments, I do not believe there exists some secret cabal specifically targeting ID. For better or worse, professors with weird, heterodox beliefs are ridiculed all the time by their colleagues. For instance, a Marxist in an economics department is not going to be well liked and will be the target of his or her colleagues' ridicule and censure. Proponents of ID are not special targets.

I noticed that, in the preview for his film, Stein decided to show clips of people like Dennett and Dawkins. But, why should we be impressed if Dennett and Dawkins, people who have an axe to grind against theism, dismiss ID without consideration? They do not speak for the scientific community.

The National Academy of Sciences has just released a publication on science and religion in the classroom aimed at reaching lay persons. I have been reading it, and thus far I am happy to see that it is both accessible to the general public and that it emphasizes one need not see scientific findings as a threat to his or her religious convictions. The text, Science, Evolution, and Creationism is available online here:



Eques replies;

Dear Timothy,

As usual, your reply is well thought through and argued. Eques found the trailer interesting. He knows that many people share Ben Stein’s opinion, IF it is true what then. Eques seldom believes in organized conspiracy or cabal theories.

He experienced the turbulent 60’s and 70’s. As a Northeastern University student Eques never thought that there was some kind of organized conspiracy among different anti-war groups in the USA with the North Vietnamese Communist. Everyday, however, the philosophical “comradeship” among these groups was certainly recognizable. This shared philosophy was potent. Any international organization was superfluous.

The Students for a Democratic Society ( who were neither democratic or students) still supported the Viet-Cong over our troops, the “Weathermen” still robed banks to support their incipient terrorist activities and Jane Fonda still felt righteous about visiting North Vietnam and posing with an anti-aircraft gun that shot down our planes and pilots.

Philosophy is far more powerful a bond than any institution because it can only be combated by an equally or more powerful philosophy.

The real question is, “are there academics who think that ‘Intentional Design’ is the camouflaged nose of the religious camel under the edge of their tent.” Eques suspects there is. Perhaps Stein’s film will shed some light on this question.

In addition, it is the opinion of Eques that the liberal elite ideologues in academia and government are verily afraid of ID, for it could up set their entire relativistic, nihilistic, philosophical house of cards. For this reason, those who tolerate everything begin to look very much like reactionary neo-Darwinists, when it comes to ID.



A second thought by Eques after a look at the Science, Evolution and Creationism brochure.

The Science, Evolution, and Creationism brochure makes the following argument against “Intelligent design.”

“However, the claims of intelligent design creationists are disproved by the findings of modern biology. Biologists have examined each of the molecular systems claimed to be the products of design and have shown how they could have arisen through natural processes. For example, in the case of the bacterial flagellum, there is no single, uniform structure that is found in all flagellar bacteria. There are many types of flagella, some simpler than others, and many species of bacteria do not have flagella to aid in their movement. (Emphasis by Eques) Thus, other components of bacterial cell membranes are likely the precursors of the proteins found in various flagella. In addition, some bacteria inject toxins into other cells through proteins that are secreted from the bacterium and that are very similar in their molecular structure to the proteins in parts of flagella. This similarity indicates a common evolutionary origin, where small changes in the structure and organization of secretory proteins could serve as the basis for flagellar proteins. Thus, flagellar proteins are not irreducibly complex.”

Despite the closing sentence of the above paragraph, Eques would argue that the relative infinite variety of life at every level of sophistication could indeed argue for “intelligent design.”

The Science, Evolution, and Creationism brochure argues that the more variety the less possibility of “Intelligent design,” does that necessarily follow. Does not effective variety, many ways of accomplishing the same thing, speak of even greater genius. Is this not more evidence for ID?

Tielhard De Chardin, paleontologist and Jesuit, would argue that the more “complex” something becomes the greater the “consciousness” until evolution becomes conscious of itself, in humankind. De Chardin fully accepted evolution, but most definitely appreciated its spirituality, what he referred to as its “within.” The principle of evolution he called “Complexity Consciousness.” The “within” is the active and conserving presence of God. He argued that evolution has a goal, a beginning, an Alpha point and an Omega, a telos, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8) St Paul “wrote all creation groans” (Romans 8:22) until it reaches its completion in Christ the point of perfection, the Word, “Fiat Lux” (Genesis 1:3) through which all was made and for which all was made.

None of this is contrary to Evolutionary thought except it moves Evolution from accident to purpose. The jump is also relatively infinite, as is 0 to 1. It explains not only what is happening Evolution, it also answers the most human and perhaps the most Evolutionary question possible WHY is it happening.

Perhaps someday down the road, the divorce between science and faith will be perfectly healed and real wisdom achieved. Eques does not believe true knowledge can be reached using only part of our mind. Once again the greater Catholic gift of the little word “and” will bring wisdom unachievable by Sola Scientia aut Sola Fides, sed Scientia et Fides.

Genesis 1:1-5

1 In the beginning God created heaven, and earth. 2 And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters. 3 And God said: Be light made. And light was made. 4 And God saw the light that it was good; and he divided the light from the darkness. 5 And he called the light Day, and the darkness Night; and there was evening and morning one day.’

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is the Roman Catholic Church a bulwark of democracy?

Updated with new Response from Dr Art Kyriazis

Salve readers,

Quod Scripsit is very interested in the critique of our Western Civilization/Culture and the direction(s) it is taking. The basic premise is "Resolve, Western Civilization” is a product of Christianity and the Roman Catholic and Protestant riff in particular which ushered in the Enlightenment and made the "horrors" of the French Revolution possible.

Art Kyriazis Harvard Class 80/81 comments below.
Eques’ response follows Art's argument on the resolution. This exchange is going on the "Harvard Alumni Association Discussion Groups" website as well.

Dear Eques

Hi, Art Kyriazis 80/81' writing here.

I'm a molecular biologist now but an old social studies major so I can't resist taking a chop at your comment on the list serve here.

(1) I just watched the movie " Elizabeth : the Golden Age" with Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen etc. The central thesis of this movie, which centers on the defeat of the Spanish armada by the English, is that the defeat of catholic Spain by Protestant England was something quite important for the development of trade and freedom in the world. as with the defeat of the Persians at marathon and salamis by the ancient Greeks, one can surely argue that the English protestants carried with them traditions of freedom, law and liberty (and parliamentary rule) that later took root in the new world (not to mention Canada, India and many commonwealth nations); not to mention that many historians and social theorists suggest that the Spanish economy was largely feudal and mercantile (as Commodore Perry our old professor at Harvard was wont to
argue) due to its catholic nature hoarding gold and exploiting the new world for the state instead of allowing numerous private companies as did the Dutch and English (Weber's notion of the protestant ethic and capitalism).

(2) corollary to this is the notion that England enjoyed a better nationalism due to the union of their church with the king
(Cesaro-Papism) while the laws resided with parliament, while the catholic powers of the continent were weakened by the church authority residing in Rome while the secular power resided with each king. This weakened Spain , France and the holy roman empire in turn, and was not fully resolved until the French revolution and the Napoleonic conquests which drove the inquisition from Spain and disenfranchised catholic property and dominion in France , leaving in place strong nationalist states in France and finally allowing Germany to unify.

(3) the ottoman empire was very powerful during this entire time, and they certainly enjoyed a union of state and church, in that the sultan was both the secular and spiritual leader of all Islam as well as of the continuing jihad from 1453 until the end of the sultanate in 1922. In addition, he was also after the fall of the roman empire with the taking of Constantinople in 1453, the roman emperor as well as the ruler of the Rumi-Orthodox--the roman christian subjects of his land, who of 12 millions who lived in the ottoman lands, fully 4 million at any one time, Romanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Serbian, etc. all answered to one orthodox christian patriarch ensconced in Constantinople, loyal not to the pope, but to the sultan. While modern nationalist histories portray the sultan and the ottomans in a bad light, the truth is that the Greeks, Armenians and Jews who had no religious liberty in the catholic states prospered in the ottoman empire as bankers, traders, seamen etc, building up large trading cities in Smyrna, Skopje etc. and living in large mansions. The economic contributions of non-Muslims to the Muslim empire were not inconsiderable, and many of these peoples were driven to live in ottoman countries due to the fact that all of the Sephardi Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492; the Greeks (Rumi) felt more welcome in ottoman rumeli and Asia minor to practice their religion as orthodox than they did in Italy, which had but one Greek church in Venice; and the Armenians certainly were tolerated until very late in ottoman history.

(4) The Chinese and Mogul empires in China and India were powerful during the 16th and 17th centuries, as were the Japanese feudal warlords who were quickly assimilating western ways and weapons before they shut the country off from the west.

(5) It is difficult to say what propelled the west to the top of the heap civilization wise. The fall of Constantinople was certainly critical, as it sent a number of Greek and Latin scholars of Greek ancestry to Italy, along with their books, to disseminate original Greek and Latin knowledge to the humanists.
This has been the thesis of Burckhardt in his work on the renaissance and of jb bury for many years. more recently works on George of Trebizond have also cited the critical role of Greek scholars in the revival of Greek study. Certainly the establishment of a chair in Greek studies in England in the early 1500s was a turning point in English science and literary affairs, and led directly to Newton, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and the king James bible as we now know them all. From Newton, all else follows, including Maxwell, Einstein and the atomic bomb.

(6) it's hard to say that the humanists were devoutly catholic.
Galileo was at odds with the Jesuits; Copernicus was afraid to publish his findings; in many ways, the inquisition and the Jesuits were opponents of humanism and of scientific progress. In time, the English developed the faster, lighter ships with more cannon and better engineering because they had freedom of thought and freedom of scientific inquiry--Bacon, Raleigh, drake--all were encouraged to think, to travel until England had reached every corner of the globe with mercantile trade by the time of Elizabeth.
They feared nothing and least of all their own inquisition or Jesuits, because the catholic faith had been suppressed in England.

(7) Two of the greatest crimes in history in the middle ages have to be ascribed to the catholic church, the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by the 4th crusade, and the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathari of Southern France (Provencal France) in 1209). These were not isolated events. Throw in the crusade less than a hundred years later against the knights Templar sanctioned by the pope and you have a picture of what the inquisition was really all about.
In Constantinople, they burned 2/3 of the classical works that had been preserved in the library and melted down the original ancient sculptures, preserved for centuries unharmed, for bronze; and they took all of the holy relics of Christ, which had been carefully collected by the roman emperors over the years, including the crown of thorns and holy lance, and used them as collateral for loans from Italian bankers, and when the Latin emperors defaulted on the loans, the relics were sold and dispersed to the various emperors of the west, included the holy grail itself, which was lost. The Cathari, who had developed Provencal literature and the cult of the troubadours, were silenced forever, and a literary and cultural tradition was forever lost.

(8) On the plus side, the Vatican has managed to keep a large number of items in its own library intact.

(9) The current pope seems anxious to effect another union (more permanent than the councils of Lyon or
Florence) with the eastern church, which now boasts 500 million strong. However the eastern church only recognizes the seven ecumenical councils through the 8th century ad; the western church lists all of the Lateran and Vatican councils, as well as papal encyclicals, as being of importance somehow. Moreover, Vatican II, which the western church ratified and announced, which revoked much of the bad and harmful intolerance that had characterized Catholicism for centuries, is seemingly now being chipped away at by neo-conservatives in the Vatican. It would seem that one pre-requisite for there to be union between the Vatican and eastern church, is strict adherence to Vatican II.

these are just a few points.

--Art Kyriazis ab 80/81
Eques Responds

Salve Art,
Well reasoned response, which I do not have the necessary time to respond to, this being holy Week. I would like to comment in the near future on:
1. That "protestant England at first was not Protestant but schismatic. One could argue that until the 19th century with the exception of the "puritan revolt" the Anglican Church considered itself catholic. Cardinal Newman attempted to prove such, but much to his surprise found that over time, the "Catholic Faith" in England had been corrupted by Protestantism, but he claims it did not begin that way. Therefore, the growth of the British Commercial Empire early still found its roots in what they themselves believed was Catholic but not Papists."
2. I believe that the worse thing to happen in Western and European history was the French Revolution, as Edmund Burke and Dickens (neither Catholic) would agree. It brought to the world the first Modern Totalitarian State , guillotine, secret police, state religion, (as opposed to a nationalized version of Catholicism as in the East and England) and global war, the real First World War being the Napoleonic Wars.
3. No Conservative, Republican, or Roman Catholic philosophically or theologically could rightly support a totalitarian state. Also the international character of Roman Catholicism makes it the only Church capable of resisting oppression form such states globally, in such places as Philippines, East Timor, Sudan, Central America, Poland, Hungary, and many more places in many other times, including the French Revolution and its after math.
4. I do believe that the lingering feudalism in Spain, with its protection of the aristocracy and hence the lack of industrial development, was in part a by product of conservative Catholicism that was leery of democracy, as were all the crown heads of Europe until it was thrust upon them by the debacle of the "First World War." I would also have to attribute this at least in Spain to other cultural factors, which were I admit, rooted in Catholicism.
5. I believe you err in your characterization of the "Two of the greatest crimes in history in the Middle Ages have to be ascribed to the catholic church, the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by the 4th crusade, and the Albigensian Crusade against the Cithara of Southern France (Provencal France) in 1209). These were not isolated events. Throw in the crusade less than a hundred years later against the knight's Templar sanctioned by the pope and you have a picture of what the inquisition was really all about."
a. The "Sack of Constantinople" was a horror to the Pope. It was never contemplated by the church; it was the direct result of Crusader kings and Barons looking for a quick buck.
b. The Albigensian or Cithara heresy was seen as a direct threat on the political stability of medieval Europe. Catholic princes, though they may have cared little for their Catholic Faith believed as Constantine did that there could be a unified state only with a unified religion. Heresy of all kind was not only an attack on the faith but also on the state, moderns have difficulty grasping this aspect of the medieval mindset; it was true then of Orthodox, Muslim, and later Protestant States, and princes.
Remember England is one of the few nation states today that still has an established church, and it was not until the early nineteenth century that the penal laws were relaxed against Catholics and The Catholic hierarchy restored. This was also in part due to the continued Anglican Bishops claim that they were the Catholic Bishops in England right up to the Mid-nineteenth century.
c. The suppression of the Order of the Poor Knights of St John of the Temple of Jerusalem, the Knights Templar was first in no way a crusade. It was the direct result of the greed and debts of King Philip IV of France, who had acquired an enormous debt to the Templars. He eyed their international treasury housed in guess where? The Bastille, as the solution to his problem, therefore he had the usual charges of various heresies, sins drown up against the Templars, and pressured the Pope to allow the arrest and trail, wherever in his realm they could be found, while encouraging the other kings to do the same with the aid of the Bishops he controlled. He was able to do this because he also controlled the Clement V, who was a Frenchman that Philip IV whose election as pope was manipulated by Philip IV. Clement V was the first of the Avignon Popes, and thus at the mercy of Philip IV.
Therefore, what you characterize as a crusade by the power of Catholic Church was an example of what happens when the Church was not independent or sovereign. The suppression of the Templars was the direct outcome of a Pope and Catholic Church that was controlled by a powerful king. The Church would fight this, I believe rightly so by insisting on an Independent and Sovereign Papal State, so that the church could not be manipulated so easily by powerful kings, emperors, or dictators in the future. The Popes fought this battle right up to 1870 when Rome was illegitimately seized by the newly created Italian Monarchy under Victor Emanuel II. The Popes remained “prisoners of the Vatican ” until the Lateran Council of 1927 negotiated by Mussolini for the King of Italy and the House of Savoy. This concordat recognized the sovereignty of “yle="">Stato Della Citta Del Vaticano,” and various other extraterritorial possessions of the Holy See and paid reparations to the Holy See for the seizure of Rome and the Papal States in the previous century, hence in effect legitimizing the Pontifical claims of 1870 to its sovereign status.
d. Therefore, I believe it erroneous to say that any of the events were the result of Church authority but rather the lack of and examples rather of what continues today attempts at the powerful of the world to manipulate the Church for its own purposes.
e. As along as the church does not have the coercive power of the state, that is the power to punish with incarceration, or death, rights it actually only exercised in the Papal States themselves (a necessary embarrassment for a Church, that was also a state with a population, that was in need of all the laws and order of any other state at that time) I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the greatest institutional and moral guardian against the rise of the totalitarian super state.
Art, thank you for your thoughts, I await your retort.
Vale et Pax

Dr Art Kyriazis answers

(Dr Art does not use upper case letters, it is as he wrote it unedited.)

will state here that I am of the orthodox faith, so my holy week is deferred this year, but I understand there are ecumenical discussions and negotiations underway to at least unite the Easters of the Western and Eastern Churches, which would be a wonderful thing indeed.

I would start with common ground. I believe the passion of the christ and the mysteries of easter and the resurrection of the christ is for me, and for billions of people in the world, one of the most important touchstones of faith in their devotion to god. There is little question that this is my favorite service of the year and of course, our theological calendar begins and ends at easter and the pentecost and the ascent.

I find myself agreeing with the fine points you make. England was indeed quite schismatic; as I point out in my other response, they had a tendency to export dissent to the new world rather than simply supress it. This does not encompass fully the irish question, which is a shameful episode in their history.

The horrors of the french revolution i fully share revulsion for. As I am fundamentally a conservative, Burke has always been one of my touchstones. While I don't agree with all of the points you make extending from the french revolution, I agree it was a horrible event. I would add that it lit the fuse for all of the nationalist uprisings of the 19th and 20th century, starting with the Greek Revolution of 1821-1830, to the bosnian nationalist who shot the archduke of austria and started world war I, to the disintegration of the ottoman empire along nationalist lines and the eastern problem. even the russian revolution.

plus my personal favorite word, "the thermidorean reaction".

I certainly agree that modernly catholicism, especially since vatican II, has been a liberating force against totalitarianism, especially in places like poland behind the iron curtain. however there remains the problem of the concordat of 1938 with hitler, and the complicity of the church with the croats against the serbs in wwII, and other similar scenarios which played out, along with their role vis a via Mussolini.

we agree about spain.

On the 4th crusade and albigensian crusade, your arguments have been made by certain historians, and are well-supported, but so have been mine, and we will agree to disagree. There are a plethora of recent studies on the subject, plus of course the original sources such as Villardhouin, which I have read and re-read. There are both crusader and greek accounts.

On the knights templar, let's leave that one alone. it's been overdone with movies etc.

the pope for many years had a secular state and an army==the papal states. for much of history the pope had coercive means at his disposal and the ability to ally with military forces. there are many works and sources on this point. Obviously france and the holy roman empire have intervened on numerous occasions either to interfere with the pope's secular power or at the pope's invitation; also spain for many years was involved in the affairs of italy. before the arrival of the normans, the byzantines were rulers of southern italy and sicily. Many powers have been involved in italy. If you re-read your machiavelli and other italian writers, you will see the secular role the pope played for many centuries.

i agree modernly the pope, and especially recent popes, have been champions of freedom. i think the recent pope who died should be beatified.

--dr arthur kyriazis

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Homeschooling and Parental Rights Under Attack in California

The following article was first published by the Acton Institute. It is so important to Catholic Citizens we post it here at Quod Scripsit. You are encouraged to visit the Acton Institute site.

By Chris Banescu

Declaring that “parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children,” the Second District Court of Appeal for the state of California recently issued a ruling that effectively bans families from homeschooling their children and threatens parents with criminal penalties for daring to do so. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) this court decision has made “almost all forms of homeschooling in California” a violation of state law. Once again, our judicial system moves to restrict religious and personal liberties, severely limit parental rights, and significantly increase the power, scope, and control of the state over our lives.

There are approximately 166,000 homeschooled children in California. With the stroke of a pen, the appellate court criminalized the lawful educational choices of tens of thousands of innocent families across the state, subjected them to possible fines, and labeled their children as potential truants. This activist court chose to bypass the will of the people and legislated from the bench based on anecdotal evidence and its own clearly biased and subjective opinions about the constitutionality of parental rights and the quality of a homeschooled education. This decision attacks the freedom of parents to decide on the best educational environment for their children, restricts their religious rights to practice their faith without governmental interference, and violates their freedom to raise their offspring as they see fit without the ideological pollution and atheistic/leftist indoctrination so prevalent in our public school system.

In a state that allows minors to have abortions without parental notification and consent, having the court complain about the welfare and safety of children who are homeschooled is laughable. The court also conveniently turned a blind eye to the increasing levels of violence and murder in many California public schools, as well as the abysmal quality of education in those very same schools. With California ranking near the bottom in the quality of its public education system, a state-wide illiteracy rate of approximately 24 percent, and drop-out rates hovering around 30 percent, the California public education system is not the shining example and standard the courts should be applying and measuring against.

Case history

The appellate court reviewed the decision reached by a juvenile court regarding the quality of education provided to homeschooled children of the Phillip and Mary Long family. The children were homeschooled by Mrs. Long with assistance from the Sunland Christian School (SCS), a private religious academy in the Los Angeles area. According to its website, SCS “is a private school in the State of California and is an accredited home school program offering independent home schooling study, correspondence home schooling, and online home school.” The Long children were enrolled in the independent study program at SCS. While the lower court had concerns about the quality of the education received by two of the eight children, the trial court did not order the parents to enroll their children into a private or public school, and stated in its opinion that “parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home.”

Rather than confine its ruling to the specifics of the Long case, the court of appeals instead chose to considerably broaden the scope of its decision, further strengthen state power over individuals, and deny California parents the right to homeschool their children. In his written opinion, filed on February 28, 2008, Justice H. Walter Croskey, joined by the other two members of the appellate panel, categorically asserted that: “parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.” Furthermore, in the section ominously named “Consequences of Parental Denial of a Legal Education” the judge states:

Because parents have a legal duty to see to their children’s schooling within the provisions of these laws, parents who fail to do so may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction, and subject to imposition of fines... Additionally, the parents are subject to being ordered to enroll their children in an appropriate school or education program and provide proof of enrollment to the court, and willful failure to comply with such an order may be punished by a fine for civil contempt.

“Breathtaking” judicial activism

The totalitarian impulses of the court were further evidenced by the arguments it used to justify its decision: “A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism, and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.” As someone who has lived and suffered under a communist regime (I grew up in Romania), the “good citizenship,” “patriotism,” and “loyalty to the state” justifications have struck a little too close to home. These were precisely the kinds of arguments the communist party used to broaden the power of the state, increase the leadership’s iron grip on the people, and justify just about every conceivable violation of human rights, restrictions on individual liberties, and abuses perpetrated by government officials.

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, got it right when he said that the “scope of this decision by the appellate court is breathtaking. It not only attacks traditional home schooling, but also calls into question home schooling through charter schools and teaching children at home via independent study through public and private schools.” The sentiment was echoed by Michael Smith, president of HSLDA: “California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home,” he said. This is exactly what the judges have done and the precedent they have set for California and possibly for the rest of the country.

Homeschooling effective

The appellate court also chose to ignore the many studies and solid research data showing that homeschooling is a well-established and exceptional method of education that overwhelmingly produces superior academic results and well-adjusted individuals. According to David Barfield’s review of the available data on home education, “dozens of studies have yielded the consistent result showing home educated students average 15-30 percentile points above the national average. Research demonstrates that, unlike their public school counterparts, the performance of home educated students bears little correlation to family income, the degree of state regulation of homeschooling, teacher certification, the educational level achieved by parents, sex, or race.” In another study by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) he shows that “home educated students excelled on nationally-normed standardized achievement exams. On average, home schoolers outperformed their public school peers by 30 to 37 percentile points across all subjects.”

Similar studies documented by the HSLDA also confirm that the poor “socialization” objection by the court is a red herring. Numerous studies have shown that homeschooled youngsters have excellent social skills, are active in groups and community activities outside the home, engage in many extracurricular activities and sports, are exceptionally prepared to deal with the real world, interact better with adults and a variety of age-groups, and take their civic duties more seriously than their public school counterparts.

Pushing back

Fortunately the people of California and homeschooling associations across the country, outraged by these latest developments, are taking steps to proactively deal with and redress the situation. Many homeschooling families are determined to fight for their parental rights and countermand the court’s decision. The HSLDA has followed a two-prong approach to help. It has advised the Long family to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court and it will file “an amicus brief on behalf of our 13,500 member families in California” arguing that the proper interpretation of California statutes allow parents to teach their own children under the private-school exemption. The HSLDA will also seek to have this decision “depublished,” which can only be done by the California Supreme Court. According to them, depublishing the case “would mean that the case is not binding precedent in California and has no effect on any other family.”

Even Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has issued a statement in full support of homeschooling families. "Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children's education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don't protect parents' rights then, as elected officials, we will," he said.

It remains to be seen if reason and common sense will prevail in this latest battle for the individual God-given liberties and freedoms of American families. The relentless march towards full government control of all areas of our lives must be halted. The people must push back. Our children’s lives and their future are too precious to surrender to government bureaucrats and teacher’s unions. For their sake and ours, freedom must prevail.

Chris Banescu is an attorney, entrepreneur, and university professor. He is an ethics and business management specialist, and manages the conservative Web site and blog at

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Religion in 2008 Campaigns

Recently Michael from NYU had the following to say about the role of Religion in the 2008 presidential campaigns. I concur with his analysis and add a perspective of my own below.

As an aside if you are a young man I would encourage you to check out the post just prior to this entitled Notes on becoming a young Catholic gentleman, It may prove helpful to you. Your comments as usual are always welcome and read.

Dear Eques,
I find it so fascinating how religion comes up in some form or another in each election, but this year, the manner in which the topic has been approached is so different from other years. This year, barely any emphasis was put on Clinton or McCain's religion, while Romney and Obama's religion has received full press coverage.
Romney is a Mormon and it is interesting how some people feel that his Mormonism would have a dire effect on his presidency. I felt bad for him because his religion does not comprise his entire character or completely control his policy decisions. The voters who looked at his religion as the only factor in voting for him were wrong I believe. They were being prejudiced and hateful. Who are they to say that Mormonism is a bad or wrong religion. After all, everyone remembers, just as the article mentions, that Kennedy was a Catholic, and at the time, many in the country were against having a Catholic as president. From history, we now know that a president is not going to make every decision based on religious affiliation.Religion plays a part in the decision making obviously because for most people, religion plays a very important part in their character. In no way though should a person be judged solely on their religion.
In a recent conversation I had on the topic of Obama, religion came up. Two things shocked me. The first is that this person I was having this conversation with believed 100% that Obama was a Muslim. I couldn't believe how someone could get their facts so wrong. Obama has said time and time again that he is not a Muslim and is in fact a member of the United Church of Christ. Why has Obama's religion been reported so wrongly? I am not sure I will ever understand this completely. This is one of those things that shocks me today. In the modern age, religion, whether it is Romney's or Obama's or anyone else's, should not be a reason to hold a prejudice against that person. religious intolerance seems to be the new racism, and it is only growing, not receding.
The second thing in this conversation that shocked me was that this person said they would never vote for Obama because he is a Muslim. This is not just this person's view though, many in the country hold this view, just as on the Republican side, voters used the same rationale to vote against Romney. Why would someone not vote for a person based solely on the fact that they are Muslim. This idea completely baffles me. Why does Islam have such a stigma attached to it in some people's minds?

On another note, I voted for Clinton in the primary. If you don't mind me asking, who did you vote for?


Eques Responds

Dear Michael,

I agree with your analysis completely. I also had a rather heated exchange with of all people Mr Grace who insisted that Obama was a Muslim. I could not convince him other wise. I believe that this information or disinformation actually originates form the blogosphere. The recent studies of media coverage show that the major networks had reported overwhelmingly favorable regarding Barrack Obama. NBC is reported to have covered Obama in a positive light 90% of the time. The other networks CBS and ABC were in the neighbor hood of 75-80% favorable reporting. The reporting regarding Mrs Clinton was just the opposite.

They have not reported him to be a Muslim but that “disinformation” has been all over the blogosphere and has come up on talk radio. Even though no news agency says said it is so, and have reported that he is a Christian, people still assume by his name that he is a Muslim. His middle name is Hussein, a Muslim name. His father was a Muslim. His mother was not. He was raised by his mom. He did attend, some report, a Muslim “hadras,” or school. However, he has claimed Christianity as his religion and he and his wife have belonged to the same church for many years.

One thing that hurts him still is that his pastor. He is known to have preached that America itself was at fault for the 9/11 attacks. The pastor has also given some kind of an award to Louis Farrakhan [] the head of the Nation of Islam, whose rhetoric has been extremely anti-American foreign policy. Obama is very close to his pastor. He is part of Mr. & Mrs Obama spiritual life as a pastor should be.

These men of course have a right to their opinion but some have used the relationship of Obama with his pastor to cast a negative light on him and claim him as some kind of closet Muslim. He is not a Muslim, nor is he in any way anti-American. He is just more liberal than Mrs. Clinton is in her foreign policy. I do not believe for a minute despite the oratory that any of the current presidential candidates would deliberately place our nation in security jeopardy. They see different ways of achieving security. I do believe that Mrs. Clinton would be better for national security than Mr. Obama would. McCain would be better than either in this regard.

I however, voted for Romney in the Massachusetts primary. I thought he was the Republican with the best chance to win the White House. I have always been a registered Republican since I was old enough to register and vote. I also voted for him because he was a Mormon. He was our governor in Massachusetts. He was not great but he was good. As a Catholic, I have a lot more in common with him than Mrs. Clinton.

Like you, I was upset because people did say they would not vote for him because he was a Mormon. In the early 1970’s I meet Mormon young men in Kentucky at Fort Knox during basic training as an Army Reserve Officer Candidate. They were very moral young men. Although university students as me, all but one was already married and that young man told me, how sad he was because he was not yet married. Most Mormons are expected to marry young. It is their way of curtailing sexual promiscuity so common among college men then and now. This was very important to their religious fidelity. They were very patriotic; this was significant because it was during the Viet Nam war. There were more Mormons in my company than any other religion. I was a faithful Catholic as a boy and college student when it was not fashionable to be so. My Catholicism and their Mormonism on many moral issues fit.

The best friend I made at the time however, who remains a friend to this day, was a Methodist form Alabama. He was a student at the Alabama University Law School. He like the Mormons was already married. I was committed in my heart to be a priest at the time, although I was attending Northeastern University and studying Criminal Justice. He was a Christian and Republican. In addition, he was a conservative thinker like me. We met over a copy of National Review magazine as we rode the bus from the Louisville, Kentucky airport to Fort Knox. National Review is conservative journal founded by William F. Buckley Jr. who has just passed on to his eternal reward. Buckley was a faithful Catholic and the founder of the modern conservative movement. He was an inspiration to me for some time and gave me the intelligent conservative thought that allowed me to pass through NU when drugs and sexual acting out was as common as candy at the corner store. My Alabama seat mate could not believe a Bostonian could be reading National Review. I explained that it was very natural for me because my grandfather and father were Republicans and Catholics, just as Buckley was. It all made sense to me. From that, moment on, to name drop, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and I were conservative Republican allies and friends. You may know that Jeff is one of two Republican U S Senators from Alabama. (A bit of vanity on part there, with apologies.)

The point is this Catholic (me) found alliances with a Southern Methodist, and Mormons at a time when the other Catholics in our company barracks were vocally hostile to their own faith and church. Therefore, I see no reason not to vote for or vote against any candidate based on his religion alone, unless that religion is openly hostile to my or my nation’s existence, and the candidate embraces that openly hostile religion. Given that proviso, even though the religion of the candidate informs every decision he/she makes whenever his conscience is involved, by definition a religiously informed conscience, I would rather vote for such a person. I would expect he/she would more likely implement consistently the policy and platform articulated during the campaign. This candidate would have meant what said and said what meant. Romney was for the most part like this. He did shade himself on the moderate side becoming elect-able as governor of ultra liberal Massachusetts. He did shade himself more conservative to run for the Republican nomination, but essentially, he was consistent with his stated beliefs. He sincerely labored to fulfill his campaign promises once elected Governor.

I remember first hand the Kennedy Vs Nixon election, my mom voted for Nixon, because she thought he was better qualified. Religion played no part in her decision. I was in 7th or 8th grade and did not think politically at the time, I wanted her to vote for Kennedy so that we could have our first Catholic President. In hindsight, Kennedy was not very Catholic, and although he had loads of charisma and was very intelligent, we really do not know if he was a great president. Mythology grew so rapidly around him post his assassination that the judgment of history is still not clear. Nixon was a competent president but a much-disliked even despised human being; this clouds our vision of him as well. However, my mother provided an important decision-making lesson. Religion is only one factor in judging suitability of a candidate for office. It is certainly not a reason for automatic dismissal that would contradict our great American tradition of religious liberty and tolerance. An ideal that even found its way into the declaration on religious liberty DIGNITATIS HUMANAE approved by the Bishops and Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council. <>