In 1634 Galileo Galilei was charged by the Church for writing that the Earth revolved around the Sun and was sentenced to house arrest.

Today Roy Moore, a candidate for Alabama's Gubernatorial office, contends that his rival Bradley Byrne is unfit for office because he supports teaching the theory of evolution. The disgusting attacks illustrate how much religious radicalism has perverted the Republican party.
The religious right attacks a legitimate contender because he believes in science

In the late 1500s and early 1600s Galileo Gallelei was among the first European researchers to subscribe to Nicolaus Copernicus' theory that the Earth orbits the sun -- not the other way around.  That brilliant stand earned him a spot in history, but it also led to his imprisonment and eventual death at the hands of religious fundamentalists.

In 1612 Father Tommaso Caccini attacked Galileo's views, believing them to be unholy and in direct contradiction to what is written in The Bible.  After a long battle, the educated Galileo was unable to defend himself against the blind wrath of the Church and in 1634 was sentenced to house arrest.  He was forced to "confess" his crimes against God to avoid being sentenced to death.

Today much as the protestant and catholic churches once denied that the Earth orbited the Sun, religious fundamentalists are denying the vast body of paleontological, morphological, biochemical, and genetic evidence that points to a creation of species through evolution.  Many also attack the idea that the Earth is billions of years old.  Despite the support of vast astronomical, geological, biochemical, and physical evidence of an old Earth, fundamentalist observers believe that the Earth is mere thousands of years old, in line with the strictest interpretations of The Bible.

The Republican party has a proud history of independence and fiscal responsibility, but in recent years it has made the critical flaw of embracing religious radicals.  Today, the focus on true conservatism is slowly vanishing and being replaced by religious-themed brand of anti-science rhetoric.

This sad progression was highlighted in attack ads that aired this last month against Bradley Byrne, Republican candidate for governor of Alabama.  James' rival, Roy Moore, manufactured the attack ad, which proclaims, "On the school board Byrne supported teaching evolution, said evolution best explained the origin of life?  Even recently said The Bible is only 
partly true!"

Byrne is also accused of being a "liberal" because he had worked as a Democrat from 1984 until 1997, when he left the party and became a Republican.  Why did he leave the party?  In his own words it was becoming "too liberal for us."  Roy Moore, despite his attacks, also had a change of heart.  He initially ran for judicial positions as a Democrat.

There have been a number of recent discoveries and scientific breakthroughs that have made the picture of human evolution clearer.  Now with an unprecedented amount of evidence supporting the theory, why would any reasonable, rational person seek to blindly reject it, without providing compelling scientific evidence to the contrary?

And hence we arrive at a fundamental problem.  Religious fundamentalist extremists are looking to impede the progress of science in many ways -- from stem cells to evolution -- and are looking to pervert the message of the once proud Republican party.

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