- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 7, 2005

Secular failure

“With the development of modern science, all America’s religions faced an increasing challenge from secularism, a term coined in the 1840s by a British freethinker, Jacob Holyoake, but that did not enter common American usage until the 1880s and 1890s. Non-believers such as Robert Ingersoll lectured around the country pointing out the foibles of religion, while scientists and university presidents endorsed the priority of reason over faith. Ultimately secularism reached its assumed triumph in 1925 when Clarence Darrow bested William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes trial, immortalized for generations after by the play and movie ‘Inherit the Wind.’

“Except that Darrow did not win the case at hand; Bryan did. Not only was Scopes found guilty, but Darrow’s secularism never recovered, and conservative Christianity began its long march into the American presidency. This is not what we usually think about these matters; the world is supposed to have become more oriented to science as it has become more modern, yet the United States has seemed to take the opposite path.”

Alan Wolfe, writing on “The State of the Church-State Debate,” Aug. 1 in Slate at www.slate.com

Just asking

“I often wonder what the exact distance is that an illegal alien who crosses our border from Mexico must travel into our nation before becoming an ‘undocumented worker.’

“Think about it. Brave Border Patrol Agents risk and lose their lives to apprehend literally thousands of illegal aliens each day, while politicians, bankers, criminal employers and such all-American groups as La Raza must wait until the illegals are somehow magically transformed into oppressed victims and a ‘burgeoning market.’

“At what distance from the barbed wire does that transformation take place? …

“If I was one of the many who profit from the millions of illegal workers in this country, I would seriously consider putting up a shelter with a sign — ‘day-labor center’ — just inches over the border. … The victims of geography could then crawl under the wire and presto … get the same ‘rights’ as someone who has made it all the way to my hometown [Marietta, Ga.].

“People transport, hire, shelter and encourage illegal aliens like crazy here. Nobody arrests the federal felons — ever.”

D.A. King, writing on “How Far Is It From Illegal To Undocumented?” July 30 at www.vdare.com

PBS pattern

“Rather than develop exciting new programs, public broadcasting has copycatted commercial television with regrettable results. Rather than adhere to its core educational mission, it has opted for ‘soft’ education in programs like ‘Postcards from Buster,’ that is, programs with no educational value at all. …

“The pattern is clear. Public broadcasting fails to move, and more agile competitors, like Discovery or the History Channel … forge ahead. Some years ago ‘The American Experience’ parted company with the distinguished historian David McCullough, who had acted as that series’ host for a decade. He is now advising HBO as it enters Fall 2005 production of ‘John Adams,’ a 14-part series produced by Tom Hanks. …

“Until public broadcasting signals that it can provide entertaining and demonstrably educational programming for television, the Internet, and the classroom, public broadcasting does not deserve to be treated as a sustainable enterprise.”

James MacGuire, writing on “What’s wrong with public broadcasting?” in the New Criterion at www.newcriterion.com

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