Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is the Bible Literacy Bill a Bad Idea? Richard Day's case that public school teachers are incompetent

Richard Day is against a proposed state law that would allow schools to have a course in Bible literacy. His argument? That teachers are not competent to teach such a course.
[I]t's not too hard to accept the argument that, in western society, "an educated person is familiar with the Bible." Coloquial speech in America is laced with Biblical references. In fact, Matthew 22 is central to understanding the secular/religious struggles that led to bloody European wars - and eventually, a new nation built on the principles of freedom of religion, freedom from religion (freedom of thought) and freedom of the press. But turning teachers loose to teach the Bible as literature?

Get this: In high school, books do not teach themselves so much as teachers teach them.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that it is NOT the intent of Boswell, Worley or Carroll to have the Bible besmirched. Let's assume they merely wish Kentucky students to become more familiar with the Bible's literature. Let's assume they have no interest in "establishing religion" so there will be no effort to direct how the book must be taught, or what lessons should be taken from the text. Let's assume there will be no special requirements of English teachers teaching the Bible than there are for teaching Hamlet.

Just exactly how might that work in the classroom of a teacher who held no particular reverence for the good book?
Well, first of all, one wonders why it's hard to accept the role the Bible plays in our cultural history at all. But beyond that, there must be a name for the kind of argument that pretends to be concerned about the integrity of one thing, but is secretly really concerned about something else. Somehow--and I really hate to question Day's motivation here--it doesn't really seem like he's concerned about how the Bible would be taught, but rather has that little voice in the back of the brain--overactive in many civil liberties types--that keeps whispering how the First Amendment says that we should eliminate religion from the public square altogether.

Of course, if that were the case, Day would be doing the same thing he accuses the sponsors of Senate Bill 142 of doing: taking a public position for reasons other than their stated ones. I am willing to listen to Day's protestations on this, but I will have to say I remain unconvinced.

More importantly, however, if teachers are not competent enough to teach such a basic course in Bible literacy, then why are they teaching in our schools in the first place? Are public school teachers really so Biblically illiterate that they are incapable of teaching such a course?

If we admit--as the bill states and as I think any learned person would have to admit, and as Day says he is, with minimal pain, willing to admit--that Biblical literacy is necessary for a competent understanding of our "culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy," then what Day is in fact saying is that our schools are populated by people who do not have a competent understanding of our culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy.

This is quite an admission on Day's part. In fact, it is a stunning vote of no confidence in our public schools.

If the army of teachers we have out there are so pedagogically challenged they they would screw up a Bible literacy class, what other subjects are they incapable of handling? Are they butchering history right now, even as I write, teaching that the Egypt was populated by mummies and that they wrote in hydraulics? that Homer's books were not really written by Homer but by another author of the same name? or that Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock?

Are teachers even now on a rampage through other subjects, creating educational havoc as they go? Are they telling their poor unfortunate charges that a semicolon is a reference to the small intestine? that H2O is hot water, and CO2 is cold water? and that Penelope was the last hardship Ulysses endured on his journey?

Where are his blog posts expressing concern over whether we should teach math, science, literature, and foreign language on the grounds that teachers might mess them up? If teachers are not cometent to teach a Bible literacy course, then why should they be considered competent enough to teach anything else? If the lack of teacher competence is an argument against having Bible literacy classes in our public schools, why isn't it an argument against having any other courses in schools?

It can't be because they may be biased in teaching the Bible: they can be biased in teaching anything. Try taking an English course at a state university. In fact, we set up whole departments in our universities for the express purpose of indoctrinating students in political ideologies--but I don't remember Day speaking out against Womens' Studies departments in the recent past.

In fact, I wonder if Sharon Oxendine, president of the state teacher's union, shares Day's view of the lack of teacher ability. Sharon, you there?

Day's argument isn't with this bill, it's with the system he claims to support.

23 comments:

Richard Day said...

Wow, Martin. You really twisted that into the argument you wanted to have.

Schools can teach about the Bible now, and some teachers, like me, do. My students are surprised how much I talk about religion, but since I teach about the history of schooling - how could I do otherwise?

I enjoyed the jokes but, it's not so much a question of competence as it is unintended consequences. Should we imagine the bill's sponsors are OK with Bible taught as mythology, or worse? There are surely some number of places where that would occur.

You may certainly think me insincere if you want. But while I find the Bible to be far from holy writ, it is deeply engrained in American culture, is a singular source for valuable information, and I have no desire to see it treated otherwise or to disrespect its adherants - including most of my students.

There are two parts to the First Amendment. I respect them both.

Martin Cothran said...

Richard,

I'll gladly accept your expression of sincerity. But you still didn't answer my main argument: if they're not competent to teach the Bible responsibly, then why should we think they are competent to teach anything else responsibly?

Richard Day said...

It's not a question of competence in my mind.

On the contrary, I can think of some who might be very competent in teaching the Bible's contradictions and stories in a way that undermines the bill's intent. I can't imagine the authors of the bill being satisfied with that kind of result.

Martin Cothran said...

Richard,

My point, of course, was that if you are concerned about the abuse the Bible might experience, you ought to be equally concerned about the abuse any literature might incur. Your banking on the greater concern for the integrity of what many people consider Holy Writ, but the hearts of students can be equally corrupted by bad teaching in English literature--and their minds equally misdirected by incompetent history instruction.

We're willing to risk these, so what's wrong with risking the other?

Lee said...

Can you specify a contradiction in the Bible, Richard? Or is it just a talking point you throw out once in a while for seasoning?

Richard Day said...

Give me a break, guys.

I didn't comment on teacher competence for the same reason I didn't comment on the weather. It doesn't have anything to do with Senate Bill 142.

If Boswell, Worley and Carroll file a teacher professional development biil, we can talk about its relative merits and demerits.

Thanks for the invitation, Lee. I'll pass.

Lee said...

I'm always disappointed when people make unsubstantiated assertions about Christianity or the Bible, and pass on the substantiation part when cordially invited to present it.

Now I'll never know whether you've figured out something that has eluded Reformed theologians for centuries. Or not. In the meantime, I'll go with the "or not".

Thomas said...

Lee,

Just for fun:

1KI 4:26 And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.

2CH 9:25 And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.
---------and----------
II SAMUEL 24:13: So God came to David, and told him, and said unto him, shall SEVEN YEARS OF FAMINE come unto thee in thy land? or will thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue. thee?

I CHRONICLES 21:11: SO God came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee. Either THREE YEARS OF FAMINE or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee;

---------and------------

2SA 6:23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

2SA 21:8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

----------and---------
2KI 24:8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.

2CH 36:9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.


There's actually quite a few dates and numbers off between Chronicles and Kings. Not that it matters all that much.

Richard Day said...

Thank you Thomas. But look out. Lee's about to confound you.

If one takes the Bible metaphorically, contradictions hardly matter anyway.

But riddle me this one, Batman.

Why does the Bible go to such lengths to show the lineage from David to Joseph, only to prove in the end that Jesus could not have descended from David, owing to immaculate conception?

Lee said...

It is our church's belief that the Bible is God's word, written by man, inspired by God. We do not believe He would give us an imperfect testimony.

This does not mean that all the ancient manuscripts necessarily agree with each other.

Regarding 1 Kings 4:26 vs. 2 Chronicles 9:25 -- some Septuagint manuscripts say that 1 Kings 4:26 says "forty thousand." The NIV translates it as "four thousand."

The Septuagint also is the source for the "seven" years of famine in 2 Samuel 24:13; the NIV translates it as "three".

NIV also names the daughter of Saul in 2 Samuel 21:8 as Merab, not Michal.

NIC also says 2 Chronicles 36:9 gives Jehoiachin's age as eighteen.

Thomas said...

The NIV is notoriously inaccurate. If you look at the versions that translate the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, they translate it as 40,000. Wesley also says the number is 40,000.

Also, from what I can find for 2 Samuel 24:13, the NIV actually borrows from the Septuagint rather than the available Hebrew texts to eliminate the contradiction (as they admit in a footnote). The NIV selectively uses sources in order to fit their ideological presuppositions, not to translate the text accurately. Similarly with the other verses.

If you're trying to get an accurate translation of source texts, the NIV is not the way to go.

Lee said...

The NIV is not considered "notoriously inaccurate" in my circles, sorry.

NAS repeats the 40,000 number. Both Bibles are considered okay in our church.

The point, however, is that both translations footnote the discrepancies in different manuscripts. I do not maintain that for the Bible to be considered 100% without fallacy, all translations and transcriptions have to be 100% in agreement. I would think that would go without saying.

There are hundreds of source documents for the Old Testament. I would have to know which was written first -- i.e., the version "inspired by God" -- to be able to make definitive a statement about which ought to be considered the primary source.

So the idea that the Bible "contradicts itself", so far, rests on discrepancies in some of the manuscripts.

And I wouldn't argue that the Septuagint is the wrong source to use, in general. (One of our pastors thinks highly of it.) I think the translators do what they can -- namely, pick a source, write what they see, and footnote it when other sources disagree.

The NIV is not intended to be a word-for-word translation. It is intended to translate meaning, not words, so there is more interpretation involved. This is why our church recommends both the NAS and the NIV. They also recommend the New English Bible, the KJV, and the Geneva Bible. Others too, I'm sure. But whichever, they always recommend that you take into account whether it's a word-for-word or a "meaning" translation.

Ancient Hebrew, like modern American English, employed many figures of speech. If I wrote a book that was unearthed in 2500 years where I had written, "It rained cats and dogs all night," the NAS approach of translation would be to tranlate it literally and footnote the idiomatic usage. The NIV would be more inclined to translate it as, "It rained a lot all night," and then footnote the original idiom.

I don't have a philosophical problem with either approach; you just have to know which one you are using, and that it's best to play them against each other.

Thomas said...

The whole point of the NIV was that more literal translations caused problems for Evangelical theology.

And there are serious problems with the NIV (not the least of which is that their translation is guided strongly by ideology: http://www.theskepticalreview.com/tsrmag/1voice94.html

Lee said...

For the sake of argument, I will grant that the NIV has problems.

Which leaves us with, from my earlier post...

So the idea that the Bible "contradicts itself", so far, rests on discrepancies in some of the manuscripts.

Thomas said...

Falling back on the argument that the original manuscripts are absolutely inerrent, but that as they were transmitted errors crept in through the errors of copyists (which is what I think happened with the counting of Solomon's stalls) makes it impossible to show that there are direct contradictions in Scripture. However, it also makes it impossible to demonstrate that those contradictions were not present in the original text, since we don't have them. It makes a belief in the inerrency of Scripture a sheer act of faith which contradicts the current evidence by asserting that it is disproven by evidence which in all likelihood no longer exists.

But what does it really matter if the writer of Kings or Chronicles recorded the wrong number? It's not a significant error. John Chrysostum actually believes such insignificant errors prove that the Scriptures were not frauds.

Thomas said...

Richard,

Speaking of St. John Chrysostum, here's his answer to your question (in cumbersome Victorian translation):

"[I]f He was not sprung of a man, but from a woman only, and the Virgin has not her genealogy traced, how shall we know that He was of David's race?

"How then shall we know that she is of David? Hearken unto God, telling Gabriel to go unto "a virgin betrothed to a man (whose name was Joseph), of the house and lineage of David." What now would you have plainer than this, when you have heard that the Virgin was of the house and lineage of David?

"Hence it is evident that Joseph also was of the same. Yes, for there was a law, which bade that it should not be lawful to take a wife from any other stock, but from the same tribe..."

"For not only was it not allowed to take a wife out of another tribe, but not even from another lineage, that is, from another kindred. So that if either we connect with the Virgin the words, "of the house and lineage of David," what has been said stands good; or if with Joseph, by that fact this also is proved. For if Joseph was of the house and lineage of David, he would not have taken his wife from another than that whence he himself was sprung...

"Now that the Virgin was of the race of David is indeed from these things evident; but wherefore he gave not her genealogy, but Joseph's, requires explanation. For what cause was it then? It was not the law among the Jews that the genealogy of women should be traced. In order then that he might keep the custom, and not seem to be making alterations from the beginning, and yet might make the Virgin known to us, for this cause he has passed over her ancestors in silence, and traced the genealogy of Joseph. For if he had done this with respect to the Virgin, he would have seemed to be introducing novelties; and if he had passed over Joseph in silence, we should not have known the Virgin's forefathers."

Lee said...

> Falling back on the argument that the original manuscripts are absolutely inerrent, but that as they were transmitted errors crept in through the errors of copyists (which is what I think happened with the counting of Solomon's stalls) makes it impossible to show that there are direct contradictions in Scripture.

Grudgingly phrased, but thank you for the admission. I don't consider it a "fallback position", however. How else could it be? I can find a Bible verse that says, "All scripture is inspired of God," but it might harder to find a verse that takes responsibility for every copy error that ever occurred.

> However, it also makes it impossible to demonstrate that those contradictions were not present in the original text, since we don't have them.

Some things you take on faith. I don't know why that's harder to deal with than, say, believing parts of the Bible are true, other parts not true, and then have to make decisions. On what basis? That would be my first question.

I also don't know why it's harder to deal with than other sources of religious authority and their ostensible contradictions. Have any of the popes ever contradicted one another, when speaking ex cathedra? How is it that some things were sins when committed before the Pope speaks, but no longer sins after he speaks? Or vice versa? Does God change His mind about moral truth? Dis He lie to one pope and tell the truth to another? Did He not have enough foresight in the first place?

Maybe John Chrysostum was right -- I don't believe it, but it's certainly possible. I don't see how the Lord can inspire a holy scripture with an error. If there are parts of holy scripture that are in error, then we should remove those books from the Bible.

> It makes a belief in the inerrency of Scripture a sheer act of faith...

How is that different from belief in any religious authority?

> ...which contradicts the current evidence by asserting that it is disproven by evidence which in all likelihood no longer exists.

"The current evidence", or "the current opinion about the evidence"?

Richard Day said...

Interesting discusion, gentlemen, and one in which I have scant little to offer.

But it seems the discussion arrived where most, if not all, reasonable men of good will can rest. These are simply matters of faith. I don't think eluded Reformed theologians have missed that point.

Lee, there are folks in my family and in my church who would agree with your view of the Bible. I'm just not wired that way. I apologize for suspecting your challenge to me to be a set up. From the creation stories on, I get a confused picture of whether God wants His people to behave in certain ways or simply do what he says at a given moment. So I tend to treat the text metaphorically and simply try to follow the central teachings of Jesus as is my culture.

I hope it's OK that folks disagree.

And if it is OK, I hope you can see how teaching religious texts in public schools is inherently problematic. Even thinly veiled as literature, it is a mine field in the classroom.

If it's not OK that people disagree on matters of faith, and someone wants to pass a bill to promote their particular faith in the schools, then all who value freedom of thought should vigorously oppose it.

Thomas, I appreciated your offering of St. John Chrysostum's explanation of the lineage problem. I'm not sure I completely buy it, but it's the best attempt I've heard and I will think about it.

Lee said...

> Lee, there are folks in my family and in my church who would agree with your view of the Bible. I'm just not wired that way. I apologize for suspecting your challenge to me to be a set up.

No apology necessary, Richard.

Thomas is apparently a Catholic who has thought very deeply about theology. I'm a Reformed Presbyterian who has at least given theology some thought. Our perspectives differ widely.

From the Westminster Confession, a document that reflects the theological perspective of Reformed Christianity:

> "...the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace."

I think this statement provides some leeway on our personal views on theology. But Thomas and I can't both be right: at least one of us must be wrong. As Paul said, we see through a glass darkly, but will some day know the truth.

> And if it is OK, I hope you can see how teaching religious texts in public schools is inherently problematic. Even thinly veiled as literature, it is a mine field in the classroom.

I find that liberals tend conflate good policy with good constitutional interpretation. It never seems to occur to them that every issue doesn't have to be settled by federal judges.

It may or may not be good policy to teach the Bible in some form or another in the schools -- I think reasonable people can disagree. If the Louisville, KY school board wants to teach it, and the Lexington, KY school board doesn't want to teach it, I think that should be okay.

The part I don't like is the part where opponents of teaching it state that it is somehow unconstitutional. The First Amendment prohibits Congress from passing any law promoting or prohibiting religion. The prohibition is on Congress, not your local school system. And besides, does teaching the Bible mean you're promoting it? I certainly never felt that my high school promoted Shakespeare by teaching. They taught it as if they didn't want me to read it at all. I can only imagine that's how they'd teach the Bible.

If God were in the next room taking interviews, would you like to ask Him some questions? Get His thoughts? That's the way I (and others in our church) look at the Bible. I'm sure there are people going to Heaven who don't share that perspective, even as it saddens me that there are probably some not going to Heaven who do (at least intellectually). Good theology is not what saves us. But I think it can have enormous practical benefit. I think it helps to know who God is and what He's done, and how He thinks (best as we can tell). It helps to know how depraved mankind really is, and it helps to know there is no hope for us without Jesus' sacrifice.

Richard Day said...

The Westminster Confession of Faith did not defines “reformed Christianity” for me. I was using a much broader and inclusive definition which may or may not not have been appropriate. Like Mark Twain, I was reared Presbyterian, but it wore off.

I tend to think of myself as more of a moderate, but I’m clearly a social liberal. Maybe that’s what you were referring to with regard to constitutional interpretation.

Lee, matters of personal liberty have all too frequently had to be decided by judges because a populist majority would abide any number of sins quite comfortably as we saw in the most obvious example, slavery. Following the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was needed to ensure that the liberties described for “all free white persons” came to be enjoyed by all individuals. Your analysis fails to recognize the 14th Amendment’s incorporation of the Bill of Rights, providing equal protection under the law to individuals. That properly includes “freedom of religion” and “freedom from religion.”

Senate Bill 146 is problematic for students in schools who do not believe as the majority does. They are made to feel like outsiders, when the curriculum supports offerings in the majority religion, but not theirs. The thought that learning Christian principles would be good for them, because our society is dominantly Christian, does little to disguise the true motivation. One needs only to look at the overtly Christian victory celebrations when the Ten Commandments were upheld recently, and the comments made by the Senate Education Committee members yesterday to see the true motivation.

There may not be a US constitutional prohibition against teaching the Bible as literature. It is more doubtful that it would pass muster under Kentucky’s constitution. But I understand your frustration. I never like it when the courts intervene when they shouldn’t or rule in ways I disagree with. I felt the same way you do about Bush v Gore. At some point, we get over it and move on.

Oh…and Lee, God is in the next room. This one too.

Lee said...

> I tend to think of myself as more of a moderate, but I’m clearly a social liberal. Maybe that’s what you were referring to with regard to constitutional interpretation.

I think it is fair to characterize liberalism, generally, as a state of mind in which rules are to be interpreted not by what the rules actually stipulate, but what they (the liberals) would prefer the rules to stipulate.

My view is that both the Bible and the Constitution are more important for what they actually say than for what some may wish they said. If they mean anything, they mean something objective.

> ...matters of personal liberty have all too frequently had to be decided by judges because a populist majority would abide any number of sins quite comfortably as we saw in the most obvious example, slavery.

Federal judges and justices are not here to strike down "any number of sins"; they are here to interpret the Constitution and the law.

Sorry, I don't read the 14th amendment as saying that the local school board is "virtual Congress." It would have to be construed that teaching the Bible in schools is "establishment of religion". The schools teach evolution -- in doing so, are they "establishing" Darwinism? If so, then how about English grammar? American history? Algebra? Phys Ed?

> Senate Bill 146 is problematic for students in schools who do not believe as the majority does. They are made to feel like outsiders, when the curriculum supports offerings in the majority religion, but not theirs.

Where in the Bill of Rights does it say that "the people's right to feel like insiders" cannot be infringed?

> The thought that learning Christian principles would be good for them, because our society is dominantly Christian, does little to disguise the true motivation.

Should I object to teaching arithmetic if a teacher's true motivation is to train them to become bookies?

> One needs only to look at the overtly Christian victory celebrations when the Ten Commandments were upheld recently, and the comments made by the Senate Education Committee members yesterday to see the true motivation.

I forgot all about the Constitutional right that protects citizens from the spectacle of Christians exulting in a rare political victory. I guess that's buried somewhere in Amendment 666.

> I never like it when the courts intervene when they shouldn’t or rule in ways I disagree with. I felt the same way you do about Bush v Gore.

An interesting example, given that the US Supreme Court was actually preventing the Florida Supreme Court from hijacking the Florida legislature's prerogatives, as stipulated in the U.S. Constitution.

> Oh…and Lee, God is in the next room. This one too.

The question was whether we care what He's actually trying to tell us, or instead hearing what we wish to hear.

Richard Day said...

>I think it is fair to characterize liberalism, generally, as a state of mind in which rules are to be interpreted not by what the rules actually stipulate, but what they (the liberals) would prefer the rules to stipulate. My view is that both the Bible and the Constitution are more important for what they actually say than for what some may wish they said. If they mean anything, they mean something objective.

And I think it's unfair, dismissive and really more about something you are feeling than what the words actually mean.

No wonder we can't agree. You say you want words to actually mean what they say and then you make up your own definition of liberalism?

Here's what Merriam Webster says:
"a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity b : a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard c : a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (as those involving race, gender, or class."

Talk about hearing what you want to hear....

This just became a waste of my time.

Lee said...

> And I think it's unfair, dismissive and really more about something you are feeling than what the words actually mean.

Where did the phrase, "living Constitution," come from? Who originated the phrase, "emanations from penumbras"? Certainly not conservatives. They came from liberals who are searching desperately for a method of justifying Supreme Court rulings that do not follow from the Constitution.

Where did the idea that the Bible ought to be interpreted allegorically come from? Certainly not conservatives. The descent of the liberal Protestant denominations into irrelevancy has been accompanied by emphasis on the touchy-feely portions of the Bible, and turning away from the harder truths. Or explaining them away.

> No wonder we can't agree. You say you want words to actually mean what they say and then you make up your own definition of liberalism?

It wasn't a definition; it was an opinion.

> Here's what Merriam Webster says:
"a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity

That's one way to say it. Another way to say it is, "they have declared independence from the Bible." We're saying the same thing. Cherry-pick the parts of the Bible we like, and explain away or ignore the rest.

> : a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard

That's an old definition; that's a 19th-century liberal. Adam Smith and his followers. John Stuart Mill. Modern American liberalism is essentially a re-branding of early 20th century Progressivism, minus some of the more egregious racism and eugenics blather.

> c : a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties;

It is obvious to me that a liberal wrote that definition. "Belief in progress?" As if everyone shares the same definition of "progress". I have no problem with the second part of that definition, about the "essential goodness of man". Yes, liberals are at direct odds with the Bible on that score. (E.g., "All man's righteousness is as filthy rags," "We are dead in sin," "None are righteous, no, not one," etc.) The "autonomy of the individual" part of the definition doesn't seem terribly accurate to me -- what with "speech codes" on many campuses, and the desire to control everyone's options on a great number of issues. As for "protecting civil liberties"? That's actually sort of amusing. I can think of a lot of civil liberties that liberals are very un-gung ho about, including the right to bear arms. And did I mention the freedom of conservatives to speak out on college campus?

> specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (as those involving race, gender, or class."

Another way of stating this is, it is a philosophy that believes in the expansion of government power. And I concur: liberalism contains a strain of fascism. They're also pretty sensitive about it, so they are quick to throw that accusation against those on the right. They believe in a powerful government, and in diminishing or destroying those institutions that stand in opposition.

Which explains perfectly why they like to interpret the Constitution loosely; it's an easier sell than hitting it with a wrecking ball, though that would be more to the point.