By George B. Kauffman, Ph.D.
Twelve Claims of the Christian Right Fall under Strict Secular Scrutiny. All are flagrant examples of “cherry picking.”
- Abortion: Fundamentalists say that outlawing abortion in the U.S.A. is their highest priority. There is no biblical justification for this. Americans support legal abortion by a 70 to 25 percent margin.
- Capital Punishment: Fundamentalists are strong proponents of capital punishment. However, they are “cherry picking” because scripture requires execution for 60 minor violations such as Sabbath breakers.
- Christian nation: For two centuries, Christian activists have tried to revise Thomas Jefferson to promote the false idea that the U.S.A. was founded as a Christian nation whose laws are based on the Bible. Fundamentalists are unyielding proponents of biblical creationism as opposed to ungodly evolution. Documentation and scholarship contradict the claims.
- Creationism in Public Schools: Americans oppose teaching creationism in the public schools by a 60 to 35 percent margin. All evidence refutes the Genesis story of creation. Also, teaching religion in the public schools is unconstitutional.
- Death with Dignity: Fundamentalists constantly proclaim the life begins at conception and ends with natural death. They oppose all legislation that would put all end-of-life decisions in the hands of patients, physicians, and their families. This is biblically dishonest because there is no scriptural justification for natural death.
- Decalogue Displays: Fundamentalists continue to fight to display their cherished Ten Commandments in public venues, especially classrooms, courthouses, and state capitals. This is biblically dishonest because the required punishments are never listed along with the full text of the commands. This is also unconstitutional because the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a religion.
- Free Enterprise: Fundamentalists argue that society will function optimally if free enterprise principles are minimized or eliminated. This is biblically dishonest because Jesus’ unambiguous teachings are disregarded. It’s also unconstitutional because the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a religion.
- Marriage Equality: No current sociopolitical issue angers conservative fundamentalist more than same-sex marriage. Contrary to fundamentalist propaganda, Americans support same-sex marriage by a 60 to 35 percent margin.
- Public Prayer: Fundamentalists emphasize their right and duty to promote and participate in public prayer activities. This clearly violates Jesus’ command that his followers should not make a public spectacle of prayer. He stressed that prayer is a personal matter that should be conducted in private.
- School Choice: Since the late 1970s conservative Christians have doggedly pursuing their goal of funneling money away from U.S. public education. Numerous schemes have been implemented to foster “school choice” that gives taxpayer money in the form of vouchers to parents of children who want to send them to private institutions, often religious. These programs have no basis in scripture and have been rejected by voters in more than two initiatives and referenda by a 65 to 35 percent average margin. Also, the basic principle of separation of church and state is violated.
- Sexual Orientation: Fundamentalists condemn the “gay lifestyle,” which they claim is a choice. They demand exemption from public accommodation laws through passage of what they call religious liberty and freedom of conscience legislation, which would enable them to discriminate against anyone they regard as sinners. Jesus said to love your neighbors, and he never denounced homosexuality.
- Sworn Oaths. Fundamentalists are committed to participation in political ceremonies that involve swearing on the Bible to fulfill the duties of public office, allowing concluding with “so help me God.” This violates Jesus’ specific prohibition against swearing: “But I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne.”
Clearly, Christian fundamentalists pose a continuing threat to the civil liberties al all Americans.
George B. Kauffman, Ph.D., chemistry professor emeritus at California State University, Fresno and Guggenheim Fellow, is recipient of the American Chemical Society’s George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education, Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach, and Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, and numerous domestic and international honors. In 2002 and 2011, he was appointed a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society, respectively.