The Separation of Church & State Defended: Selected Writings of James E. Wood, Jr.

By Derek H. Davis; James E. Wood Jr. | Go to book overview

Religious Fundamentalism and the Public Schools

D uring the past two decades, the public schools of America have largely come to be perceived by religious fundamentalists as dominated by "secular humanism." Writing almost a decade ago, Senator Jesse Helms expressed a view that is widely shared today by religious fundamentalists: "When the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited children from participating in voluntary prayers in public schools, the conclusion is inescapable that the Supreme Court not only violated the right of free exercise of religion of all America; it also established a national religion in the United States -- the religion of secular humanism."

In the seventies and eighties, "secular humanism" has gradually become a code word for explaining all the evils in American society, largely replacing "communism," as used in the fifties and sixties as the greatest threat facing America and its democratic institutions. "Godless communists" and "their fellow travelers" of only a few decades ago are now labeled "secular humanists." In the words of Tim LaHaye, one of the founders of the Moral Majority, "secular humanism" is "the world's greatest evil." In a series of widely distributed books on "secular humanism," LaHaye charges that most of the evils in the world today can be traced to "secular humanism," which he sees as having taken over the government, the media, and education in America. Similarly, Pat Robertson is fond of arguing that "secular humanists" have stolen the government, the courts, and the public schools from America's God-fearing majority, and it is up to Christians to win back these institutions. The allegedly

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