- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006

Pizza magnatefights for values

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Visitors to this law office are greeted by a life-size portrait of the patron saint of lawyers. Beside that saint is a head-and-shoulders statue of Jesus carrying the cross up Golgotha. As the visitor walks down the hall, he may be tempted to dip a finger in the holy-water fountain he encounters there.

But the fountain is empty at the moment. No time to fill it. People here are too busy fighting a holy war, of sorts — a war to rescue the American culture.

Tucked into the sprawling Domino Farms complex are the offices of the Thomas More Law Center. It was created in 1999 by Thomas Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and a philanthropist for conservative Catholic causes. A $500,000 donation by Mr. Monaghan gave the center its start. The patron saint of lawyers, depicted in the reception area portrait, gave the center its name.

This is the home of the lawyers who unsuccessfully defended the Dover, Pa., Board of Education when it was sued for promoting intelligent design in its science classes. The eight lawyers employed by the More center, including two in California and one in the District, are quickly becoming leaders in the fight to dethrone Darwin in the science classroom and make a place for intelligent design, the notion that some things in nature are too complex to have evolved.

Behind its actions is the belief by its president, Richard Thompson, that Christianity is under siege from all quarters, but especially the federal courts, the American Civil Liberties Union and pro-homosexual groups.

The ACLU and the courts are “basically cleansing America of religion and particularly Christianity,” he says. “It’s almost like a genocide. It’s a sophisticated genocide.”

Focusing on the banning of “Nativity scenes, the cross, prayer in schools, Bible reading in schools, moments of silence, prayers at football games — it’s a very militant attempt to surgically remove religion from the public square and turn us into an atheistic society,” Mr. Thompson says.

He says the culture war’s most important arena is the public schools.

“The humanists say, ‘We’ve got your children in the public school system, and we’re going to teach them the way we want to teach them.’ That’s why you get sex-education classes the way you have them. A lot of schools get involved in teaching them about pornography. That’s why you get the theory of evolution being taught,” he said.

That’s why he sides with those who would teach intelligent design in science class, who believe that evolution has gone beyond the bounds of science into religion.

“If you say … evolution is unplanned and undirected, then you basically say there is no God,” he says.

“That is a silly caricature of what is really going on,” says Jeremy Gunn, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

“I think that kind of language about a culture war is itself harmful and is stoking the flames,” Mr. Gunn says. “We need to understand the real issues underlying the debate. … There are serious issues here. To characterize this as good versus evil is living in a cartoon.”

• Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service

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