Thursday, October 20, 2005

Things that make you go "hmmmm"

For a group trying to claim that its decision to teach intelligent design was not religiously motivated, the Dover Area School District has made some curious choices for its defense.

First, the district is being represented pro bono by the Thomas More Center, which, according to its website, is "dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. Our purpose is to be the sword and shield for people of faith, providing legal representation without charge to defend and protect Christians and their religious beliefs in the public square." (italics ours) Interesting that they'd volunteer to defend the school district merely over an alleged "scientific" theory....

Today's Salon has a great interview with the Thomas More Center's founder, president, and chief council Richard Thompson about the Dover case and his motivations. (You can read the whole article if you agree to see an ad.)

Scheduled to testify on Friday for the defense is Dick Carpenter, an assistant professor of leadership, research and foundations at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He also happens to be the former Education Policy Analyst for Focus on the Family, which believes that "the ultimate purpose in living is to know and glorify God and to attain eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." He held this position from 2000-2002, according to his vita.

He continues to be affiliated with Focus on the Family as a lecturer in their "Love Won Out" program, which is focused on "promoting the truth that homosexuality is preventable and treatable — a message routinely silenced today. ...Individuals don't have to be gay." Dr. Carpenter's sessions are called "Why is What They're Teaching So Dangerous?" and "Teaching Captivity? Addressing the Pro-Gay Agenda in Your School."

Now as a general matter we certainly don't have any objection to religious groups being involved in public discussions or in litigation. But we don't see any reason for them to pretend that they are not promoting their particular religious viewpoints when they in fact are. Of course it becomes rather problematic when a group promoting a particular religious point of view decides to advance that religious viewpoint by supporting government officials who are doing the same thing. And to do it while pretending that they are not doing it.... Hmmmm.

Perhaps there should be a little less posting of the Ten Commandments and a little more honoring the commandment to "not bear false witness."

8 Comments:

Anonymous John P said...

Perhaps there should be a little less posting of the Ten Commandments and a little more honoring the commandment to "not bear false witness."

Hypocrites! All of them!

I wonder if the Plaintiff's counsel will ask the Defendants about their choice of attorneys. Were they chosen for their legal acumen, or their religious predilections?

Enquiring minds want to know.

8:56 PM  
Blogger FishyFred said...

"Objection, relevancy. Argumentum ad hominem."
"Sustained."

That's the end of that.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous John P said...

I'm not so sure. If they're defending themselves on the basis that the School Board action is scientific in nature, and has nothing to do with religion, why not hire attorneys who are dedicated to preserving academic rights to teaching rather than providing legal representation without charge to defend and protect Christians and their religious beliefs in the public square?

Sounds relevant to me. And ad hominem? I don't see it. It's not an attack on the lawyers themselves, it's a question going straight to the motivations of the defendants.

But, you're probably right. The Judge would sustain it anyway.

8:07 AM  
Blogger marko said...

Speaking of Hypocrisy, would you believe that these same people who advocate "Teaching the Controversy" and "Expose students to other viewpoints" would be the same ones who believe "Abstinence Only" is the only sex education the kids should be exposed to?

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Peter G said...

Seems to me that it's wrong to infer that the attorneys' motivations are (or ought to be) the same as their clients'. Nor do I think you can draw that inference from a witness's motivations (although a witness's motivation may affect his/her credibility on the stand, particularly when the witness claims some kind of neutral expertise). By way of analogy, the motivation of the ACLU for taking this case is to protect freedom of religion and the separation of church and state under the First Amendment. Some of the plaintiffs, however, may not care a whit about the civil liberties issue and only be concerned about the teaching of good science in their children's schools. It doesn't impugn the sincerity of the parents-plaintiffs that they choose to be represented by the ACLU rather than by attorneys whose primary interest is in science education. If Thomas More, as a public interest law firm promoting a religious agenda, offers free and competent legal assistance to the school board, why shouldn't the Board accept it and save the taxpayers that much money? Besides, the Board is going to need that money to pay the ACLU's attorneys' fees after the judge rules.

10:00 AM  
Blogger marko said...

qqafdTo repond to PeterG:

In most all cases what you are saying is true. Look at Rove being represented by a democratic lawyer. In this case, however, we see the ACLU is representing consistent with their mission statement. The Thomas More lawyers are arguing that Intelligent Design is NOT a religious based Theory, but a scientific one, which would be at odds with there mission statement of protecting Religious Freedom.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Rodney Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Rodney Anonymous said...

"Dr. Carpenter's sessions are called 'Why is What They're Teaching So Dangerous?' and 'Teaching Captivity? Addressing the Pro-Gay Agenda in Your School.'"

"Pro-Gay Agenda in Your School" ??? Durn it; today's kids have it too easy. When I was at school, we had to lean things like Calculus and how to avoid losing digits in woodshop. If kids can spend all day learning how to look fabulous, “through shade” , and sing Melissa Etheredge songs how can America (or, at least, the White parts that the government hasn’t given up on) be expected to compete in a Global Economy?

12:31 PM  

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