I was struck that computers should be kept out of the class room. I don’t know about the rest of you, folks but I thought that the usual freewheeling discussion fell flat because we had too many shiny machines to distract us. Anyway, I’ve been reading some of the blogs and I think it’s interesting that the main topic was the validity of the free exercise clause. From reading mike’s post it seems like Americans today still have a bad habit of thinking that their religion is beyond reproach. This is not a very good policy, because religion is not a sacred cow such as race of gender. Religion is something you actively choose and you should be damn well ready to defend yourself.
I think Kierkegaard is most relevant in this situation. He posited that religion exists outside of the rational. Kierkegaard speaks of the “teleological suspension of the ethical,” which basically means that faith exists in a realm without ethics or morals. Morals and ethics are the purview of universal values. Everyone understands them, and they can be interrogated through reason. Faith simply cannot. Faith is completely personal and thus cannot be communicated and cannot be interrogated by others. Faith is an absurd notion that only exists within your own mind.
This is important to keep in mind when we discuss American policy.
As applied to Manifest Destiny, I think the lesson is rather clear. We need to stop allowing our Jesus to infiltrate our policy. Politics and the social sciences are universalizing frames of reference. They are built on the principles of reason. To allow your faith to creep into your moral beliefs is to play a dangerous game. Jesus may have prohibited this or allowed that, but you have no proof, and so the only way to justify your public actions is through reason.