Rending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the privileged Christians smashing it
To plant their giant crosses in the hills,
And march troops to bow their heads and pray.
The work of teachers is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one coherent thought,
But they would have Charles Darwin into hiding
To please the Christian right. The gaps I see,
Everyone’s seen them made and heard them made,
But still pretend surprise to find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill
And on a day we meet in court of law
To test the wall between us once again.
The first amendment guides us as we go.
From each, a plea to see it through our eyes.
Some tacks are lies, and some so clearly false
They have to use a feint to keep them hidden:
“Our country must not turn its back on God!”
We wear our voices rough with speaking them.
It seems another sort of verbal game,
One on a side. It seems like little more:
Here, an aging school prayer on a wall:
Free exercise, against establishment.
The school must not take sides, promoting God,
Excluding those of other faiths, I tell him.
He only says, “This is a Christian nation.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why a Christian nation? Isn’t that
Where church and state are one? But here, they’re not.
Before I breach a wall, I’d ask to know
What I was letting in, or letting out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that’s tearing at that wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Privilege” to him,
But it’s not privilege solely, and I’d rather
He saw it for himself. I see him there,
Holding his Bible grasped firmly by the spine
In both hands, like an ancient man of God.
He thinks in darkness as it seems to me,
Avoiding things of science and the modern world
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “This is a Christian nation.”

(With Apologies To Robert Frost) A bit more, after the jump:

Thanks to Jessica Ahlquist, and thanks to the Camp Pendleton Christians, and thanks to the Republican primaries, and thanks to Tacky Big Mountain Jesus and thanks… anyway, thanks to all the semi-regular assaults on the establishment clause, the comment threads around the internets are full of variations on the phrase “Nowhere in the Constitution is ‘separation of church and state’ written!” Of course, that phrase simply describes, concisely, the idea found throughout the constitution. Throw away that phrase completely, and the idea is still there. It’s not a wall, it’s merely a well-constructed and ordered pattern of bricks about a foot thick, eight feet high and a couple of miles wide. Not a wall at all.

But yeah, there’s a lot of that going around the net these days. And of course, one purpose of a wall is to protect the weaker side from the stronger. So the “something there is” that doesn’t love a wall is the powerful and privileged group on one side of it, looking for elbow room. This is precisely “tyranny of the majority”, and it is why Jessica is a hero. Of course, years from now (if trends continue) the atheists will be the large, powerful and privileged group, and Jessica’s precedent will protect christians.

They may make her a saint.



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