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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 March 2005, 18:23 GMT
Have your say: US cultural revolution
In Crossing Continents this week, Marvin Rees examines how religious education has become a focal point in the battle for the heart and soul of middle America.

We asked you to comment on any of the issues that our programme or online feature raised, including:

Should alternative theories to evolution be taught in schools?

Should people be concerned about the close links between Patrick Henry College and the White House?

Is home-schooling a good idea?

This debate is now closed. A selection of your views are below:


I emigrated from Iraq to the US hoping that I could escape the religious fervour of the Middle East.

And here I am in a great nation that is in the firm grip of evangelical Christians.

If this continues, do not be surprised if cars start rolling backwards in the streets of American cities
Yazan, Atlanta, GA, USA
The budding "cultural revolution" in this country is reminiscent of the Islamic revolution in Iran, as it will not be a revolution for progress.

The fact that some US public schools are trying to challenge Darwinism with unscientific faith-based theories is an ominous sign of retrograde devolution in American society.

If this continues, do not be surprised if cars start rolling backwards in the streets of American cities.
Yazan, Atlanta, GA, USA

We are in deep trouble in the US.

Anti-science and anti-intellectualism are rampant, the majority view.

Fortune tellers are valued on a par with academics who have earned their credentials through rigorous criteria.

National leaders contradict themselves without accountability so long as they profess to be Christian.

Let's get rid of both of Bush and Blair and move on to make this a better world for everyone, regardless of our many differences.
Dana Wilson, United States

The rise of religious fundamentalism worldwide, and its narrow-minded, anti-liberal ethos should be something that rings alarm bells for all who value the development of tolerance and trust between peoples, governments and religions worldwide.
Martin Stock, Canada

Buddhists and Muslims could do the same thing: set up a college with lots of intern programs and teach their worldview
Lynda Rimke, USA
Buddhists and Muslims could do the same thing: set up a college with lots of intern programs and teach a Buddhist or Muslim worldview. This is America.

Anyone can teach their children at home in America if they have the conviction that public education is not serving their children well.

Patrick Henry College is the logical next step for those who want the equivalent of any Ivy League school education with a Biblical worldview.
Lynda Rimke, USA

It is ironic that the US is locked in a struggle with fundamentalist Islam which rejects modern culture, while at the same time similar anti-modernist evangelicals try to cleanse American education of views they find offensive.

The struggle against fundamentalists has come here and threatens our freedom of thought, our scientific advancement, and our democracy.
Peter, New York City

The Christian right and their agenda is very troublesome for many Americans.

They promote fear and ignorance, while the rest of us suffer the consequences.
Devin Meyers, USA

One thing that secular Europe must understand is since the beginning, the US has been fortunate to led by strong leaders rooted in their fundamental Christian beliefs.

I wish the EU constitution would celebrate the incredible history of Christianity on the European continent
Richard Black, USA
I wish the EU constitution would celebrate the incredible history of Christianity on the European continent.

It seems equally strange to us that a Europe deep with a Christian heritage has decided only in the last couple of decades to erase a part of their culture that is actually the bedrock of their own founding.
Richard Black, USA

Evolution is a theory, which in the end has to be believed. It cannot be reproduced.

The same evidence that is used to support the theory can just as easily be seen in other lights to support the theory of intelligent design.

Evolution has been a dominating theory for the last 100 years and been a foundational principle that has led to a great many errors and excesses in our society, including abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, war and immorality.
Murray Gifkins, UK

These people are attempting to corrupt the education system to prevent children learning what science has discovered about the 4.5 billion year history of the Earth, and about life on our world.

The theory of evolution by natural selection is not... surrounded by any complexion of scientific dispute
Paul P, UK
Most of these discoveries have been made during the last 200 years.

The theory of evolution by natural selection is not new, nor controversial, and it is not surrounded by any complexion of scientific dispute.
Paul P, UK

I have close ties with the home school community where I live, and it's interesting to see how divided this group is.

On one side there are those who are schooling their children so that they can be more free to come up with their own original ideas about the world, and on the other side are those who school their children so that they will think in a specific way, which is indoctrination.

We must raise children who challenge, question, hypothesize, and test
Clover Ann Simms, USA
As an educator, I have seen the benefit to children's minds that inquiry has.

We must raise children who challenge, question, hypothesize, and test, not drones who can recite verses and ideology.
Clover Ann Simms, West Virginia, USA

As a Brit living in the US, my worst fears are becoming reality.

The US is meant to stand for freedom of expression, yet I find the Christian values are becoming aggressive towards any other view.
Andrew Higgs, USA, Colorado Springs, Colorado

I'm far more concerned about the links between the elite, ivy-league schools and our government and corporations.

The small group of people who make up this community have far too much influence over almost every aspect of our lives.

It's time for a strong counter to the ivy-league network.
Eric, Princeton, NJ USA

As a resident of Purcellville, I feel Patrick Henry College is providing an excellent service for America.

The Patrick Henry students will be prepared to battle what has become a dangerous trend in America
Dave, USA
The students who come from there will be prepared to battle what has become a dangerous trend in America.

Many liberals have distorted the constitution into saying that no references to God are allowed, period.

That, however, is a blatant establishment of atheism, by teaching people that God has no place in everyday life. I am proud of my hometown for fixing this flawed dogma.
Dave, Purcellville, VA USA

Creating a more caring, decent society would seem to be the main argument for such a system.

This in itself is great, but I just don't believe this is the main motivation of the Christian right.

I believe in God, but students of institutions such as the Patrick Henry College are nothing but trainee religious fundamentalists.

The implications of such a mentality may not ring alarm bells when confined to sections of the United States.

But if, for example, applied to foreign policy, this type of thinking is very dangerous.
Carl, England

Church and state should be separate, as the US is a multicultural and multi-faith society.

I don't want to see us going down the road of persecuting those who have different beliefs
Amanda, UK
I don't want to see us going down the road of persecuting those who have different beliefs.

Do you really want to go back to the middle ages?
Amanda, UK

It's about time we realised that science is the new religion and treated it as such.
Craig Comerford, France

The greatest achievement of Europe in the last thousand years was the breaking of the stranglehold that religion had over our thoughts and lives.

It brought in the age of science and enlightenment which the church had fought against for so long, and is still fighting.

We had an age when religion ruled everything. Was it a golden age of happiness, joy and peace? No, it was called the Dark Ages and was one of the most brutal and oppressive periods of human history!

Jesus spent most of his life talking about forgiveness, peace, equality and how wrong obscene wealth and inequality was.

But the rhetoric of some of these Christians is hatred of gays, hatred of other religions, and war and destruction for anyone who disagrees.
Richard Boesch, Spain (ex UK)

I wonder how the US would react if an Islamic fundamentalist group set up a school teaching what they truly believe in.

You can almost imagine the headlines now, can't you?
Robbie, UK

Patrick Henry is doing a great job of fighting for what the faculty and students there believe in
Renee, USA
Patrick Henry is doing a great job of fighting for what the faculty and students there believe in. Good for them!

They're trying to do what is best for their country, which is more than can be said about those who just whine about them.
Renee, USA

A literal belief in the Bible is not a bad thing, because the Bible has not been shown to have any error or fault.

Evolution is what worries me. Nobody who looks at the true evidence with an open mind can honestly believe that the earth is millions of years old, and that man and monkey are kin.

Man was made in the image of God. Look at the accomplishments and advances made by primates and compare them with human accomplishments. Pretty different, aren't they?

Which explains the reason for this better, creation or evolution? You decide.
Rick McDonnell, Illinois, United States

Many years ago I taught in an evangelical Christian school in the UK.

I still have some sympathy with parents who wish to protect their children from what they perceive as damaging influences and ideologies.

I think the underlying problem is a lack of intellectual rigour on the part of both evangelicals and the state.
Sue Gerrard, UK
I think the underlying problem is a lack of intellectual rigour on the part of both evangelicals and the state.

Many people embrace the surface manifestations of an ideology but are unaware of its deeper structure.

Neither party is doing much to examine the deep values which underpin their world-views in the way the founding fathers of the USA had to do.
Sue Gerrard, UK

I just wanted to pass on my appreciation of your programme.

I thought it was well-balanced, very interesting and very well-produced. Thankyou.
Mike von Fraunhofer, UK

The concern about Patrick Henry College and its close links to the White House is that gives one interest group an unfair access to government.

Democracy ceases to be democratic when the voices of all interest groups do not have an equal access to power.
Jack Panozzo, Toronto, Canada

I have to admit to being worried about such strongly conservative religious schools as Patrick Henry College.

Religion has no place in the government of a multi-religious, multi-cultural country like the US
Tancredi Tincani, Germany
Religion has no place in the government of a multi-religious, multi-cultural country like the US, as any belief system expressed in government policy would be at odds with the beliefs of a certain minority of the population.

As for teaching alternatives to evolution, if there is an alternative theory supported by scientific facts, then by all means, yes, it should be taught.

But none of the creationist theories I have come across has come anything close to this, and therefore have no place in a school science class. However, religious education classes are a completely different matter.
Tancredi Tincani, Germany

Alternative views should definitely be taught. They should at least admit that there are other theories out there.
Mike, Canada

Encouraging spirituality is the best way to free the society of crime and other problems.

Spirituality has to be free from some religious fundamentalism and also free from some sectarian thoughts.

If this group has a genuine intention to encourage spirituality with firm philosophical basis on scriptures such as Bhagvad Gita, as well as the Bible, then this attempt will be a good attempt.

Otherwise this group will aggravate divisions in human society.
Aditya Satsangi, India

I find it very disturbing that such literal interpretations of the bible are becoming commonplace. What is even more disturbing is the lack of consistency of the beliefs, as some passages are completely ignored.
Sean McAvoy, Canada

Most Americans are very rational people who believe in God, but also believe that everyone should have equal rights and the right to believe, or not believe, in any form of religion.

Others should not be forced to follow rules based on someone else's personal, religious beliefs
Michael Hannuksela, Minneapolis, USA
These right-wing Conservatives are trying to make laws based on their personal beliefs.

Religion is a personal thing. It should not be forced upon others. And others should not be forced to follow rules based on someone else's personal, religious beliefs.

I am terrified having people like this in the highest levels of the government.
Michael Hannuksela, Minneapolis, USA

By isolating a student in home-schooling, you expose them to only one culture and only one way of being, and that is dangerous.

It limits a student's understanding of other people at a critical stage of development, and that is likely to lead to a greater chance of intolerance as an adult.

Patrick Henry College wants to change America into its image.

I think this shows that it is not satisfied by the diversity of views, religion, and culture that has made America such a great nation. Are we not a tolerant country anymore?
Anton Jongeneel, United States, New York

As a Christian, home-schooling American I am very glad to see some of these changes.

For too long the minority that does not believe in God has been forcing its way on the rest of us.
Collin, Illinois, United States
For too long the minority of Americans that does not believe in God has been forcing its way on the rest of us.

It's time we seize the reigns of power and put an end to abortion once and for all.
Collin, Illinois, United States

America is a very divided country.

I am a member of the liberal minority, and it's an enormous minority.

Ultimately however, it shouldn't matter how large or how small the minority is, its rights must be protected.

Too much faith and ideology and not enough fact and pragmatism will breed blind leaders.
Nathaniel Koven, USA

The positions of both camps, left and right, are not in keeping with the original intent of the American founders
James Donahue, US
The rise of the religious right in America is a reaction to the movement by the 60s counterculture to completely secularize American society.

The positions of both camps, left and right, are not in keeping with the original intent of the American founders.
James Donahue, US

There are sufficient reasons to question evolution. It would be intellectually dishonest to hide the controversy from students.

People worry about the 22 congressmen who have hired Patrick Henry students in the past; one could equally worry about the hundreds who do not.

If the ideology worries some people, then by all means discuss the matter, but it's ridiculous to try and censor them out of the White House.
Carolyn Thomson, USA

Prior to our arrival here, as a family four years ago, we were apprehensive about what we might find.

We actually believed what was put out by the British media, highlighting the negative side of the USA.

Church here is the centre of the community, vibrant and alive
Ron, Brit living in North Carolina
But what a wonderful place we found! A caring society, lovely polite people and a life free of the worry of crime.

We never attended church in the UK, but we do here. Church here is the centre of the community, vibrant and alive.

Are we coming back to the UK? Not on your Nellie! Well, at least not until the Christian Right take over!
Ron, Brit living in North Carolina

I would rather live in a world where the good in people comes from their own core values, not an archaic work of fiction that has been revised and edited by the religious elite over many centuries to serve their own ends.
Simon, UK

Teaching alternative theories to evolution is the height of ignorance and denial.

It is exceedingly scary to think that young people who have the mental faculty to perform at the same level as Ivy League students can be so misled about the nature of creation.
Josh Rocchio, USA

It is good to see a growing progressive evangelical movement which cared about poverty, the environment, and truth and justice for all people, ideals closer to Christ's teachings, rather than the concerns of the religious right.
Scott McPherson, USA

Home-schooling is an excellent idea and a perfectly acceptable alternative to formal schooling.

Many liberal thinkers regard home schooling as a natural right and a healthy way to nurture a free thinker
Huw Sayer, London UK
Please don't give the impression that it somehow solely the preserve of the religious right.

Many liberal thinkers regard home schooling as a natural right and a healthy way to nurture a free thinker, unlike state systems that seem intent on producing obedient drones.
Huw Sayer, London UK

In Europe, government and religion are becoming separated, while in the US, they are coming closer together.

In Europe, we are questioning God and religion, and its accuracy and relevance in a modern economy that embraces science.

Global information is enabling us to see more clearly the differences between different societies.

But America is now beginning to embrace religion more. Perhaps this is a national consequence of the fear induced by the terrorist strikes of 9/11.
Michael Mulligan, Netherlands

I think the current Christian revival in America is largely a good thing.

I think the current Christian revival in America is largely a good thing
James, UK
People have seen the social and moral breakdown brought on by our consumerist society and they want to do something to change it.

It certainly has the potential to clean up the problems with teenage pregnancies, drug abuse, and so on. I hope - though am not optimistic - that something similar takes off here.
James, UK

The creationists treat science as a collection of facts they choose to disbelieve. But science is not a collection of facts.

It is a recursive process of inquiry whereby each conclusion leads to a better and more informed question.

This has led to a wonderfully elegant understanding of our origins.

Intelligent design seeks to deflect our process of inquiry by making certain hypotheses off limits.

Our magnificent process of inquiry will be shut down, and the resulting blind spots in our understanding of the universe and ourselves will be a foothold for superstition and ignorance that will take generations to overcome.
Michael Tierney, USA

Education is about learning, including opposing views, not ignoring them because you don't like the source.

I wish home-schooling had been an option when I was growing up
Becca, UK
I don't believe that any education should be religious based; conservative, liberal, mainstream, or fringe.

I wish home-schooling had been an option when I was growing up. I would have had a much better education.
Becca, USA

I feel that one needs to trust one's children to come to their own conclusions. That said, this is a free country, so if one perceived a need to intellectually quarantine one's children then I don't see why I should have any say in it.
Mike, USA

I think colleges such as Patrick Henry are perfectly legitimate. It's illogical to think it is dangerous or somehow wrong.

Those that attack this school are showing their own lack of tolerance
Luke, USA
These people are doing what they believe and it's sad when people of other persuasions confuse that for evil intentions.

Just as many people in the left-wing of this country accuse right-wingers of intolerance, those that attack this school are showing their own lack of tolerance.

This college represents what America is all about, people with a cause and ideal that are willing to try something new and make a difference.
Luke, USA

Home-schooling should only be used as a last resort; for students who can't handle certain pressures in regular schools.

It is crucial to learn in surroundings that challenge your ideas, one that includes many different types of people from different backgrounds.

The real world will require interaction with conservatives, liberals, and everything in between
Jed Levine, USA
School is about teaching you to function in society, and the real world will require interaction with conservatives, liberals, and everything in between.

Home-schooling a child to protect them from being exposed to any political or social differences is not fair to the child.
Jed Levine, USA

Of course alternative theories to evolution should be taught. Last time I was at school it was about learning and questioning.

I say bring on every theory and let the student evaluate it for himself or herself without having to be told what to think and believe.
Anthony Rippa, British Ex-pat In US

People will grow tired of the growing religious fervour in the US. The Enlightenment followed the Reformation and the youth movement of the 60s followed the stifling and religious 50s.
Mike, NJ, USA

People should be concerned about any school so extremely politically-motivated.

The Christian Left should certainly be concerned
Jennifer Sparks, USA
The Christian Left should certainly be concerned, as too often is Christianity and the political Right lumped together.

Home-schooling a child depends on the situation. It benefits families on the move, but to home-school in order to shelter a child from the world may have long term consequences.
Jennifer Sparks, USA

Creationism has been taken over by those who insist on various literal interpretations of the Bible.

The real debate is over the secular state. How sad that it is being fought out over school children.
Richard Riggs, UK

Collin from Illinois put the agenda in plain language: "It's time we seize the reins of power."

So let's take a look at an evangelically-run America.

Abortion would be relegated to filthy back alleys and furtive scurrying across foreign borders.

Criticism of the government would be equated with blasphemy and punished accordingly.

Education would include large doses of Christianity, to the exclusion any mention of other religions or cultures.

Welcome to America.
Walter, Florida, USA

We should be very concerned about the link between Patrick Henry College and the White House.

They talk about freedom, but the louder they talk the less free I feel
Joost, Netherlands
Christians already have a strong grip on American society and I do not want to see that increased.

I am not denying anyone their religious beliefs, but I don't want to be ruled by them.

They talk about freedom, but the louder they talk the less free I feel.
Joost, Netherlands

It is important to have an open mind. The universe is such a large place, and there are many things we still don't know.

I personally think it is dangerous to allow the state and the church to combine.

History shows that this is not a good thing, the combination of state and church can lead to persecution. Just look at the Spanish Inquisition.
Logie, UK

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.



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SEE ALSO
America's cultural revolution
24 Feb 05 |  Crossing Continents
Educating America's Christian Right
02 Mar 05 |  Crossing Continents

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