The conservative myth that PBS is some kind of hotbed for liberalism isn't true, but to see the network go out of its way to prove its conservative bona fides is disconcerting.
Two months ago, PBS gave Richard Perle a whole hour to repeat discredited neocon arguments about Iraq and the Middle East, including the notion that Saddam Hussein had a working relationship with al Qaeda, and the bizarre argument that Osama bin Laden's "network has been destroyed." As Media Matters noted, Perle's PBS special "made a series of assertions about the Iraq war that have already been shown to be false."
It appears that PBS is going down a similar road this month, with a special on religious liberty called "Wall of Separation."
The "wall of separation" is a metaphor deeply embedded in the American consciousness. Most Americans assume that the First Amendment prevents the mixing of politics and religion. The freedom of religion clauses protect individuals from the entanglement of religion with government and secure the right to freely exercise religious faith. America is a religiously pluralistic culture guided by a secular government.
But what would surprise most Americans is the discovery that this is not what the Founding Fathers intended when they established the nation and wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In fact, they had a radically different interpretation of the role of religion in state and federal governments.
Uh oh. This reads a bit like a pamphlet from Focus on the Family. In fact, "Wall of Separation" is a production of Boulevard Pictures, which explained on its website that this PBS special will explain that the Founding Fathers had "a radically different definition" of religious liberty than what we have today, and that "the modern understanding of the role of religion in the public square is exactly the opposite of what the Founders intended."
If this is starting to sound to you like religious right rhetoric, we're on the same page.