290: Godless America
Jun 3, 2005
At a time when House Majority Leader Tom Delay calls for enacting a "Biblical world view" in government, when Christians are asserting their ideals in the selection of judges, in public school science classes and elsewhere, This American Life spends an hour trying to remember why anyone liked the separation of church and state in the first place.
- Two stories about people who suddenly realize they're the only ones around who value the separation of church and state. Paul Williams, a city councilman in Janesville, Wisconsin, wants to make sure a Salvation Army built with public money doesn't proselytize. Soon he's getting attacked in the local press...and by President Bush. And a Georgia teacher finds that by teaching what she's supposed to teach—evolution—she turns her school against her. (9 minutes)
- We hear a quick rundown of all the ways that Christian conservatives are making headway in advancing their values as public policy, why they think total separation of church and state is not what the founding fathers intended. And why they're wrong. On the Christian side of this argument is Pastor Russell Johnson of the Ohio Restoration Project, which is trying to recruit "patriot pastors" to get involved in state politics; and Bill Carrico, a Virgina legislator who's trying to make sure people can express their Christianity in schools and other public places. And then there are the videos and speeches of David Barton, whose group, Wallbuilders, is trying to teach people that the founding fathers meant for America to be a Christian country. On the other side are Rob Boston, spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Cornell government professor Isaac Kramnick, co-author of The Godless Constitution. (20 minutes)
- Julia Sweeney, a Catholic, tells the story of how her faith began to crack after reading a most alarming book...called the Bible. Her story is excerpted from her play, "Letting Go of God," which ran in Los Angeles. Her other one-woman monologues are "God Said, 'Ha!'" and "In the Family Way." (29 minutes)