Duquesne University law professor Bruce Ledewitz has written three books on the role of religion in public life. Most recently, Indiana University Press published his book Church, State, and the Crisis in American Secularism, which attempts to find common ground in the separation-of-church-and-state debate.
What is religion's role in American life?
Obviously religion is a fundamental foundation for many Americans. Also, religious imagery, symbols and language have more than an orthodox meaning for the believer; they have religious and secular meanings in the public context.
What made you take on this topic?
It was all marked by my horror at the results of the 2004 presidential election -- the idea that the more often you went to church the more likely [you were] to vote for [President George] Bush; the power of the religious right; and the gap of perception between Democrats and Republicans. All of that struck me as an unnecessary gap and a result of a misunderstanding of religion.
What do you think about ideas like intelligent design?
The problem with intelligent design is that it's not true. It's non-science masquerading as science. The idea that there is order in creation and order in reality, all of that can be taught in public schools, but not as science. Nevertheless, the evolution side -- the people who understand evolution theory -- should not be so disdainful [of] parents of eighth- and ninth-grade students who are afraid that [their children] will learn that there is no greater purpose to life.