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A Faith Driven Governor in a Secular Society

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January 2004
A Faith Driven Governor in a Secular Society

Based on our meeting with him, as well as on our conversations with a varied cross section of people, one thing appears clear: the governor does not deserve the bad rap he has been dished out - as being a racist. After all, the accusation has been levied based on a narrow, singular issue - that of the Confederate flag referendum. Whatever his motives behind promising such a referendum, racism does not seem to hold water as one.

As has been detailed in our Cover Story ("The Governor and Us"), his personality, his background, as well as his initiatives as governor towards minorities is indicative of an inclusive person, both privately and publicly. Indian Americans, as other ethnic communities in Georgia, should be appreciative of a governor who is not only so accessible to us, but who has also extended proactively to us.

Moreover, the governor appears friendly, well meaning, principle-driven, and above all, grounded in deep religious faith. His faith surely must have been a force in seeing him to the office of governor despite heavy odds.

As his constituents, though, we hope that his religious faith would help him constructively in his governance, but not that it would permeate it.

We hope that he recognizes the fine line between Perdue, the person, who is guided by the Christian faith and Perdue, the governor, who presides over a significant public office in a nation that has advertised over a couple of centuries to the people of the world to come to its shore on the promise of, amongst other things, religious freedom. And not just rudimentary religious freedom. The revered founding fathers, in their infinite wisdom, had held sacrosanct the doctrine of separation of State and Church.

That promise is now threatened to be breached. In Georgia, the Church is bent on walking all over the State. Governor Perdue has favored initiatives such as: (i) Displaying the Ten Commandments on government property, (ii) Reversing the State Constitution to allow state funding of religious organizations, and (iii) Teaching the Biblical theory of creationism in public schools as an alternative to the scientific theory of evolution - regarding the origin of life.

While the particular initiatives may appear innocuous and perhaps even divine to the governor, it is the general bent towards inequitability that is alarming. Worse though, is that such initiatives are not indeed innocuous. No matter how well intentioned, teaching a religious theory in public schools and purporting it as science is the most insidious regression imaginable. Considering that Georgia is already at the bottom of the rung in SAT scores, this is an act close to blasphemy not only towards public education, but also towards scientific and technological progress.

In his welcome address on his official website, the governor states, "The people's resources are entrusted to our care, and we will leave that which is entrusted to us in better condition than we found it."

Here's an earnest appeal, Governor: Civilization has come a long ways to find in America a superior form of governance. Let's not regress in the direction of Third World theocracies, the very kinds that our President is working so fervently to reinvent in our image - one where the Church (be it Christian, Judeo, Islamic, Hindu or any other) has no business in the affairs of the State.

Parthiv N. Parekh


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