while it’s tempting to attribute this silliness to a Southern politician’s need to appeal to the Christian fundamentalists prevalent in that region, the Arkansas episode is indicative of how thoroughly Americans from coast to coast let religion permeate public life.
As full of insight and beauty as the Bible is, it’s not a universally and unconditionally embraced document, and it’s certainly not a secular one. Yet it’s under the hand of almost every American president who takes the oath of office.
It’s in classrooms, some of which teach creationism. The Texas Board of Education has been withholding approval of a widely used biology textbook because it presents evolution as more than just a theory. Thus, in the nation’s second most populous state, whose governor essentially kicked off his 2012 presidential campaign with a stadium rally for tens of thousands of evangelicals, religion is trumping scholarship, at least for now…
Three of four Americans are at least nominally Christian. But that leaves one in four who aren’t. One in five Americans don’t claim any binding religious preference or affiliation, and their ranks have grown significantly over the last two decades. Out-and-out atheists remain a sliver of the population, but a restive sliver at that. On some Sundays in some cities over recent months, they’ve gathered by the hundreds for church-style celebrations without psalms, making the point that good will and community don’t depend on divinity.
And some days will feel like this. Today was one of them.
Franklin Roosevelt bragged about his “bold, persistent experimentation.” Fortunately for the New Deal, Twitter didn’t broadcast every farmer’s sad encounter with the Agriculture Adjustment Act. But the culture of modern Washington, with its hyperventilating media and legislative saboteurs, takes pornographic pleasure in magnifying failures—which in turn erodes the public’s willingness to give liberalism another shot.
Relaxing the one-child policy may hurt some Chinese women by reviving patriarchal Confucian practices…
Therese Hesketh, a professor at the Institute of Global Health at University College London, told me this week, there might be some “regression” toward the favoritism of old. “People still want boys,” she said. And “if there is not enough money to go around, it may be that the boy will benefit more than the girl.”
A looser one-child policy may be progress. But it might also allow traditional patriarchal values to rear up again, and keep some women down.
“I realize that neither party has been blameless for these tactics. They developed over the years,” Obama said after the vote. “But today’s pattern of obstruction, it just isn’t normal. It’s not what our founders envisioned. A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the results of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations we can’t let it become normal.”
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who is from French Guiana, is an outspoken woman of color in a position of considerable visibility and influence, in a country where few have come before her.