Something has been bugging me for years. You know, like everyone over 50 knows who Gladys Knight is; But what is a "pip"?
The school in my neighborhood told the Cub Scouts this week that their flyer cannot be distributed because it mentions God in the 12 core values. While this constitutional misstep is unseemly, it is somehow made worse when contrasted with the always-welcome creed of environmentalism.
Like any normal American, I appreciate living in clean, healthy surroundings. But the green movement went past the point of preachy years ago.
Environmental respect advanced from the "don't be a litterbug" messages of the 1960s to that crying indian commercial of 1970 to the recycle obsession of the past thirty years. Somewhere along the tour, the movement got mystical.
For some time now, environmentalism has looked, walked, and quacked like a religion.
While bothered at what appears to be government-established religion in public schools, I had not made the effort to analyze it until the rejected Cub Scout flyer became an issue in our local school this week.
The message of reverence for "Mother Earth" has unquestionably been presented in this same school district for years.
Still on the school website from 2009 are photos, videos and quotes from a local high school assembly where all 2,000 students gathered for a hero's welcome for visiting Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum.
Ms. Tum is quoted as telling the students, "The Mayan calendar teaches that the earth is our mother." Then, "Wherever you go in life, get your group together and do something. Teach other young people.
If we were to gather a million young people that care for Mother Earth, we've done something very successful. Young people need to say: Here we are. We are here to stand for the health of our Mother Earth."
Does this worship of the environment constitute a religion? Turns out that it does -- since 1998. Merriam-Webster defines Pantheism as "a doctrine that equates God with the forces and laws of the universe."
A bit of search-engine query reveals that the World Pantheist Movement officially established themselves as a religion on June 29, 1998 when they were issued a certificate of incorporation as a non-profit corporation in Colorado. Their website domain name, pantheism.net, was first created on January 23 of that same year.
The salient quotes from the World Pantheist Movement website include, "Why call this a religion rather than a philosophy? Like Buddhism or Taoism, it is both. It is clearly a philosophy.
However, it deals with areas of life - especially our feelings of awe and wonder at the universe and love for nature - which are emotional and aesthetic and go beyond philosophy. These are the proper realm of religion. Unlike straight philosophical systems, pantheism also has its own characteristic approach to meditation and religious ceremony."
The site goes on to describe the legal benefits of being a religion, including tax advantages, and "being allowed to perform legal marriage and funeral ceremonies."
I believe that my instincts are confirmed. Strictly controlling every move of the Cub Scouts on campus while celebrating "Mother's Day for Mother Earth," as one high school poster reads, is a double violation of the First Amendment.
Got that figured out. I still don't know what a pip is.