Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State writes an eye-opening piece about a documentary called Wall of Separation that will be airing on PBS later this month.
The movie is produced by Boulevard Pictures, which says this about our nation’s history:
“…[W]hat would surprise most Americans is the discovery that this [understanding of separation of church and state] 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.”
AU did some more research on the producers and found out quite a bit about their backgrounds:
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.
Godawa has extreme conservative views (he called Brokeback Mountain “a brilliant piece of subversive homosexual propaganda”). While those views alone don’t necessarily mean this movie will be warped, the backgrounds of Godawa and Boulevard Pictures president Jack Hafer suggest you won’t be getting a fair portrayal of history.
As Lynn states:
The “diversity of viewpoints” argument doesn’t wash either. This project smacks of covert Religious Right propaganda, not a forthright contribution to the national dialogue.
None of us at Americans United has seen “The Wall of Separation;” PBS declined to share a copy with us. So we can’t say for sure that it’s all bad. But many signs indicate that it may be an intentionally warped and inaccurate view of the role of religion in our nation’s founding.
Keep an eye out for the movie. If the information in incorrect, the producers need to be publicly called out on it.
At least the movie’s airing on PBS, so you figure the viewers will be skeptical of revisionist claims in general.
One commenter on the AU blog said that he saw the movie the other night. He’s now looking up the information that he heard. At the very least, he mentions a note regarding music:
I was a little shocked to see, on PBS, the propaganda techniques ‘Wall’ used. For example, when quoting from Hugo Black’s opinion in Everson, a dark, minor key melody plays in a low register. When Rhenquist criticizes Everson, a hopeful pentatonic scale sounds on a bright clarinet.
The commenter mentions Judge William Rehnquist… who wasn’t actually on the court at the time. Perhaps he means Judge Wiley Rutledge, who wrote a dissenting opinion.
(Thank to TXatheist for the link!)
[tags]atheist, atheism, Barry Lynn, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Wall of Separation, PBS, Boulevard Pictures, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Brian Godawa, Chalcedon Foundation, 2006 Worldview Super Conference, Brokeback Mountain, Jack Hafer, Religious Right, Hugo Black, William Rehnquist, Wiley Rutledge[/tags]