PBS, unfortunately, appears to be spreading fundie propaganda. Specifically, a documentary called Wall of Separation aired a few days ago, and the film takes the historically incorrect view that the US was founded as an explicitly Christian nation.
?The Wall of Separation is a metaphor deeply embedded in the American consciousness,? the company observes. ?Most of us take for granted the idea that politics and religion should not be intermixed because of the heritage of The First Amendment in our understanding of freedom of religion. The No Establishment Clause has protected us from the entanglement of religion with government, and the Free Exercise Clause has secured the right for all faiths to engage in their religious practices without interference from the state. America is a religiously pluralistic culture guided by a secular government.?
That sounds pretty good. But then the Boulevard promo takes a troubling turn.
??[W]hat would surprise most Americans,? it asserts, ?is the discovery that this is not what the Founding Fathers of our country intended when they established our nation and wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They in fact had a radically different definition of establishment and the role of religion in state and federal governments than we do today. So radical, in fact, that some say the modern understanding of the role of religion in the public square is exactly the opposite of what the Founders intended.?
The production company for the documentary is Boulevard Pictures, who’s president is an evangelical Christian. Nothing inherently wrong with that. The film’s director, however, is a little bit scarier.
And then there?s Brian Godawa, the writer and director of ?The Wall of Separation,? who is an even more interesting character. Godawa did movie reviews for a time for the Chalcedon Foundation?s Web site. Those of you who follow religion and politics will recognize Chalcedon as the nerve center of Christian Reconstructionism, the most militant wing of the Religious Right. Godawa also was a featured speaker at the American Vision?s ?2006 Worldview Super Conference,? a Reconstructionist event.
Reconstructionists detest democracy and hope to usher in a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in America based on their reading of biblical law. They are best known for seeking to impose the harshest penalties of the Old Testament penal code: the death penalty, for example, for gays, adulterers, fornicators, witches, incorrigible teenagers and those who spread false religions.
As the Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s blog points out, there is a difference between advancing the national dialog and spreading propaganda, and this fails the sniff test. It’s next on WOSU at 10PM on June 21st, and runs for one hour. I’ll be watching to see for myself; I encourage all of our readers to check it out for themselves.