Tell the Truth, Terri Leo

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Add Terri Leo to the list of irresponsible Texas State Board of Education members attacking the faith of teachers and others who are helping revise the state’s social studies curriculum standards. She’s also not telling the truth, and she knows it.

In a column for the Texas GOP Vote blog, Ms. Leo repeats the lie that curriculum writers are engaged in a “war on Christmas.” As we have already reported, curriculum writers — teachers, academics and other community members — had suggested listing Easter but not Christmas as an example of a Christian holiday in a Grade 6 course on world cultures. The curriculum writers added Diwali as an example of a Hindu festival alongside Ramadan for Islam and Yom Kippur for Judaism.

As a teacher painstakingly explained to Ms. Leo and everybody else at a state board meeting two weeks ago, she and the other curriculum writers were simply listing examples. They wanted one example of a holiday or other observance for each of the major religions in a course about people and cultures around the world. The curriculum writers weren’t trying to keep students from learning about Christmas. In fact, they knew — as does Ms. Leo — that nearly every school in the state (in the country!) will teach students about Christmas. And does Ms. Leo think there are many students who don’t already know what Christmas is? Really?

Of course, Ms. Leo knows all this. But she still decided on Monday to launch another vicious attack on the motivations of the curriculum writers who are working — on their own time, without pay — to help draft the new standards:

“This is just another ridiculous attack on Christmas from the far left fringe of society. I will be voting against this recommendation by the writing panels, and I will insist on a record vote so that constituents will know which way their SBOE member voted on this.”

Well, you do that.

But Christmas will already have been added to the list of examples. Ms. Leo knows that, too, because the curriculum team’s representative told the board two weeks ago. But she still wants to grandstand, pretending to be the great defender of Christmas against some phony “war” by teachers … er… “the far left fringe of society.”

Sadly, the curriculum writers have discovered the hard way that whatever they do, right-wing fanatics like Ms. Leo will be ready to bully and smear them. Why? Because she cares more about scoring cheap political points, even if that means attacking the faith of people — including other Christians — who care more about educating Texas kids. Shame on her.

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10 Responses to “Tell the Truth, Terri Leo”

  1. Charles Says:

    This is so sad. No one is trying to kill or ban Christmas—least of all principals and school teachers who are probably for the most part faithful members of all sorts of Christian churches. This is absurd.

    If Ms. Leo knew anything at all about the history of Christmas, she would know that throughout most of the first 1000 years of the Christian faith, it was recognized by the church but celebrated only minimally as a holiday—nowhere near on the scale it is today. Our Puritan forefathers (the fundies who supposedly established a Christian nation) looked down dimly and grimly on the celebration of Christmas, and its celebration was officially banned in parts of New England. Imagine that, 1600s Christian nationalists with a fundamentalist view of theology were the first and only Americans to ever officially prohibit the celebration of Christmas in the United States. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. No one in modern times has gone so far as to officially ban the celebration of Christmas. Yet, when it was done, Christians were the ones who did it in the 1600s.

    However, even if one were forced to choose between Christmas and Easter (which we are not), Easter is the most basic and fundamental of the two holidays for the Christian faith. This is exemplified by the emphasis that the Bible and the early church put on the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is arguably the most important event that occurred within the historical context of the Christian faith—as far as the concept of salvation and new life goes.

    Ms. Leo should be ashamed of herself for playing politics with the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Someone needs to ask her if she knows that the Puritans banned Christmas in Boston. I would hope that someone overseeing the adoption of a social studies curriculum would know this. And yes, other Americans in the nonPuritan areas of the 13 colonies did celebrate Christmas.

  2. PHarvey Says:

    Terri Leo has conveniently forgotten the 9th Commandment: Thou shall not bear false witness (lie).

    Her actions over the years do not indicate Christian behavior. You can’t lie, deceive, distort, twist, misinform, mislead, misdirect, misguide, lead astray, garble, warp, misrepresent, belie, deform, and falsify as much as she and the other wingnuts have and at the same time claim to be true to your faith.

    Terri, its not Christian to lie and deceive in the name of Jesus just because your lies and distortions support your religious beliefs.

    Terri, you are a hypocrite, and a very untrustworthy woman.

  3. yossarian Says:

    Leo provides the memes cultural warriors want to hear. Accuracy, I’m afraid, has nothing to do with this–though repetition does. Much like a battering ram, constant collision aimed at a large target is believed to get the job done.

    Think it would be interesting to really learn about Christmas and how Catholicism assimilated religious observances with the historic “pagan”, nature-based ones. The archetypal meaning of mistletoe, trees and other events related to the winter solstice are very interesting. And ironically, related to Diwali, the festival of light. “The Golden Bough” would a great text to study in this regard.

    Hm, guess that kind of thinking is more about the subtle doors of perception than the big door of assumed moral authority named above. All the battering makes my head hurt though thinking deeply about almost anything does not.

  4. Mainstream Says:

    The problem is that no mainstream Republican has challenged Leo in a March primary recently, and the district is too overwhelmingly Republican for a Democrat to ever be able to win this seat in a November election.

  5. ProgressiveInTexas Says:

    Can Christmas still be considered solely a Crhistian Holiday? The Early Christians co-opted Saturnalia to convert the pagans and the Money Changers of the Temple of Capitalism have turned it back into a secular festival to promote spending orgies.

  6. trog69 Says:

    Yossarian, I agree. And this will be repeated so much that next Christmas, this will be a talking point. The religious right is beyond redemption or conscience. Ms. Leo needs to be confronted about this, but she has lots of people echoing the same malicious rumor-mongering, and none of them care a whit about what moderates/left-leaning people think or say.

  7. Charles Says:

    Well, Christmas starts in early September at Wal-Mart. Most everyone complains about having Christmas decorations out for sale so early. It’s interesting that the “War on Christmas” people feel compelled to begin their fundraising at about the same time. However, I guess that’s not too surprising.

  8. trog69 Says:

    Charles, are they gearing up for pre-emptive strikes against the certain to arrive Satanic forces?

    I feel safer all ready!

  9. Charles Says:

    Judging from my past membership in a far right Southern Baptist megachurch, I would guess that the Satanic forces are Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and the assorted smaller elves that man (and woman) the workshop at the North Pole. The jury is still out on the moral culpability of the 12 reindeer, especially the question of whether the one with the red nose is guilty of posing as a traffic cop.

  10. trog69 Says:

    hehehe. Well, I hope they are successful this year; I have four grandchildren and I already spoil them rotten.

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