This letter was published in the White County News Telegraph on February 9 2006
Dear Editor of the White County News Telegraph:
The following letter deals with the current talk about teaching the bible in the high schools.
It is certainly worthwhile and socially beneficial to have a course in the Georgia high school entitled Religion and where many faiths would be examined along with their stories and their thinking and the effect all this has on modern social interactions. In this course we would distinguish "faith" from "religion" which according to Immanuel Kant was a difference between talk and heart. We would learned why this very significant man noted that there "has been" only one true (= moral) religion in all of recorded history, and whether this "has been" included also "and it no longer exists" or whether it is alive today. In other words, what are the marks of a "true" religion? as opposed to something else. This should most definitely be required study in order to forearm our young people in anticipation of the enticing trances of cults, by understanding the essentials of this one, perhaps deceased, moral religion.
From the standpoint of the various faiths, whose children may be in high schools, they will benefit by understanding the thinking of other faiths and how they might persuade those others to switch to their own faith, or whatever it is that the various faiths might intend. Even parents who belong to cults would want their children to be wary of the wiles of other cults and know how they think. And this is certainly in the interest of parents of no faith. To use a silly example, if I wanted to convince people that the sky is a great domed ceiling with stars occasionally projected on it (like the marvelous Fox Theater), I would be better fit to do so if I understood how it is that others think that the blue sky is an effect of light and air on the retina, and that there is no sky at all apart from a look at it.
As an example for a discussion in this class, it would be extremely beneficial to objectively examine the various faith stories concerning Abraham. Is he a model for the various faiths and according to what thinking? or he is to be condemned for presuming to think that God might call upon him to violate the moral law in slaying an innocent person, and according to what thinking? And this raises then the more general, helpful and provocative question, i.e., how does any one at all, Abraham or a highschool student, distinguish between an messenger of God and a demon? or even an hallucination?
When the Constitution speaks against the establishment of religion, it is speaking in the vernacular and means the various faiths. The moral religion can be taught in the schools for in its most innocuous expression it is simply this: God will not call for a violation of the moral law. It is obviously in the interest of the American States that every government recognize and promote this religion, while always avoiding the various faiths.
Philip McPherson Rudisill