The recent ruling of a Pennsylvania district court judge to ban the teaching of intelligent design from an entire school district seems to have dealt a severe blow to supporters of that theory. Since the president has been an outspoken advocate of the introduction of intelligent design into school curricula, it would be fair to conclude that he himself must be disappointed by this setback. Or is he?
In order to believe that president Bush is agonizing over the fate of intelligent design being granted or denied admission into school curricula, one must also assume that his religious beliefs, which he has not been shy to voice, are sincere. Indeed, many think that by supporting ID, president Bush is answering a call to action from elements of the extreme Christian right that, supposedly, helped to (re-?) elect him into the highest office of the land. I believe, however, that his real goal is not to energize his or his party's electoral base; rather, his goal is to spread the idea that science is not to be trusted, thereby opening the gates for a flood of counter scientific, environmentally destructive, criminally short-sighted policy decisions that may take several generations to redress.
With this in mind, the president's advocacy for the teaching of intelligent design has two probable goals:
- The immediate goal of softening a large enough segment of the public so that regulations amenable to big business may pass more easily and that popular opposition to environmentally destructive projects will not find fertile ground.
- The goal of preparing future generations of God-fearing science skeptics, who will lay down before the corporate juggernaut that will wield its influence to fatten its coffers and flatten opposition.
There are those who do not question the sincerity of the president's Christian beliefs. I submit to you that there is ample evidence that his beliefs are highly suspect. I am convinced that actions speak louder than words. Here is a partial and still growing list of a few of president's Bush's anti Christian actions:
- During his tenure as Texas governor, the state executed over 150 inmates, including at least one mentally-retarded inmate.
- He elected to go to war with Iraq relying on dubious and/or, quite probably, fabricated evidence, in spite of the likely cost that the war would carry in terms of civilian and military casualties. When a report recently asked him if he knew how many Iraqi civilians had died during the war, he nonchalantly answered that he estimated 30,000 lives to have been lost, as if that number meant not much.
- In order to fund the war in Iraq, he has proposed legislation that would allow several federal programs to be under-funded, including Medicare, Medicaid, federal student loans, low-income housing, child support enforcement, preventive health services, childcare programs, and more. At the same time, the Pentagon's budget would see an increase of almost 5%, for FY 2006. These budgetary choices have led many religious activists to stage a protest in front of the Capitol, which led to the arrest of 115 people. Among them, Reverend Jim Wallis of the Sojourners religious movement, who called the House budget plan currently under discussion "the real Christmas scandal", in contrast with the futile protest initiated by some conservative Christian groups against the greeting "Happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." (See More Than 100 Arrested in Capitol Protest)
The facts presented above cast a heavy doubt on the sincerity of the President's Christian beliefs. There is, on the other hand, very little doubt of his convenient disdain for science, particularly science of the environmental kind. At every opportunity, the president has expressed skepticism on scientific topics that encounter little or no disagreement in the scientific community, such as global warming (his spinmasters have instructed him to adopt the less jarring phrase as "global climate change,") when even the Pentagon has finally joined the chorus of those who fear the disastrous consequences and the devastation that global warming is likely to cause. His pro business, anti-scientific posture has been manifest from the moment he took office, and his environmental record is dismal by almost anyone's standards. He has been a poor steward of God's creation (he must assume it is God's, since he is an advocate of ID), as evidenced by the following actions:
- One of his first acts as president was the rejection of the Kyoto agreement, which had been signed by all the other nations that took place in the conference. The United States stood alone in refusing to sign the agreement.
- He repealed large sections of legislation passed by President Clinton that was meant to protect the land from deforestation, to please some of his donors in the lumber sector.
- He relaxed pollution controls and introduced the "clear sky initiative" (of all things,) allowing some of the nation's and the world's worst polluters (many of which are his oil buddies in Houston) to effectively regulate themselves and to sell pollution credits to companies out of compliance. This means, in essence, that pollution levels are allowed to remain at current levels, while allowing his friend to pocket the proceeds from the sale of pollution credits.
- He repeatedly cut funding to, among others, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. When Christine Todd Whitman resigned as head of the EPA in 2003, "the number of officially designated smoggy days in the US was up by 32% and the completion of cleanup of Superfund toxic sites was down by 50%." (See Christine Todd-Whitman)
The list could go on, and chances are it unfortunately will, during the last three years of Bush's second term. At this rate, nothing short of a climactic catastrophe or popular uprising seems likely to cause the militant direction set by this administration to be inverted. The religious and moral discourse in this country must shift from prudery and pseudo- or non issues, such as the fight against gay marriages, the display of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, and the introduction of intelligent design into science class, to truly moral issues, like good environmental stewardship, the sustainable use of our natural and agricultural resources.
Responsible religious leaders must become vocal opponents of these politically motivated ploys, and they must seek (and find) the support of everybody--the media first of all--in their effort to expose the immorality of too many of the administration's policies, like Rev. Jim Wallis has done for many years. If they do not, Bush's push for intelligent design might very well lead us all to imminent disaster.