It’s Time to Act: The ‘Just Educate’ Campaign

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Have you had enough? Last week’s Texas State Board of Education meeting was yet another debacle for honest and sound education. Last year the board’s creationist faction worked to water down instruction on evolution in science classrooms. The year before that they tried (but failed) to force politically approved reading lists into language arts and literature classrooms. Now the board’s extremists — who cynically attack anyone who opposes them, even other Republicans and people of faith, as “radical leftists” who hate Christians — are targeting our children’s social studies classrooms.

And the board’s corruption of social studies with ideological nonsense won’t affect just what Texas schoolchildren learn. Because Texas is such a large purchaser of textbooks, publishers will write their new books to meet this state’s standards and then sell them to schools in other states as well. That means bad history in Texas will find its way into classrooms across the country.

And how bad is it? Just check out some of the headlines we’ve all been reading:

“Texas Textbook Massacre” (Huffington Post)

“It’s Like They Are Proud of Being Ignorant” (The Atlantic)

“Social studies curriculum…puts a conservative stamp on history” (New York Times)

The Texas Freedom Network is issuing a call to action for all who care about whether schoolchildren get a quality education that prepares them to succeed in the world of the 21st century.

So what can you do?

First, sign on to Just Educate, our new campaign to reform the State Board of Education and keep politics out of our children’s public school classrooms. Our campaign will unite parents, business leaders and other concerned citizens behind a common-sense principle: the State Board of Education and our public schools should just educate our schoolchildren, not promote ideological agendas that are undermine their ability to compete and succeed in a 21st century economy.

Second, tell State Board of Education members to stop rewriting history and promoting radical political agendas. E-mail the state board at sboeteks@tea.state.tx.us. In particular, insist that they require social studies students to learn that the Founders barred government from promoting or disfavoring one religion over all others in this country. That principle is a fundamental constitutional protection for religious freedom in America.

Third, contact your local Texas legislator and insist that he or she support legislation in 2011 that reins in the authority of an out-of-control State Board of Education. You can find the names and contact information for your state representative and state senator here. With the help of thousands of concerned Texans, TFN will work with lawmakers to pass legislation next year that stops the state board from abusing its authority over curriculum standards and textbooks to promote political agendas over the education of public school students.

Finally, support our campaign with a donation to the Texas Freedom Network. We are the largest, state-based organization dedicated to fighting the radical right’s aggressive and corrosive agenda. Your support is more important than ever in this new campaign.

It’s time to stand up to extremists who are dragging our children’s public school classrooms into one “culture war” battle after another. Decisions about what students learn should be based on sound scholarship and the work of real experts in every subject — not the radical agendas of politicians on the State Board of Education.

So have you had enough? Then join us in this campaign.

57 Responses to “It’s Time to Act: The ‘Just Educate’ Campaign”

  1. Joe Lapp Says:

    Here’s another good one, in the NY Times Freakonomics blog (http://nyti.ms/asQFEP). An economist proposes a way to measure whether an inclusion in the standards is governed more by ideology than by merit, specifically looking at one change the Texas SBOE made to the economics curriculum.

  2. Gordon Fowkes Says:

    There is a culture war over religion between those who wish to establish “Christianity” and those who wish to repress it. The First Amendment prohibits both establishment and repression.

    There is no way to teach American history without acknowledgement of the role of Christianity, expecially Protestantism. Any purge of this influence is establishment of anti-Religion as religion.

    The solution is not contention but consultation on what aspects of what religion had what sort of impact. The Puritans and Quakers had enormous impact on colonial development, as did the religiosity of the Redneck.

  3. David Says:

    No, Gordon, that can’t stand unchallenged. The war is between Evangelicals and fundamentalists with a very narrow definition of Christianity, and everybody else. Unfortunately, a great deal of us get lumped in with the activist atheists because that’s the way the Fundies want the argument framed.
    Nobody’s been talking about erasing the historical importance of the early American Christians, (not even the atheists).
    We’re also not talking about “colonial development”. We’re talking about the establishment of the Constitution of the United States, and about the beliefs of the Founding Fathers, and what their intent was at the time. They established a living, adaptable document that could serve the country whether everybody became Presbyterian, or whether everyone became members of the BooHoo WAWA sect.
    This is a culture war between those who who would teach the truth, and those who would teach total falsehoods.
    The “truth” is not pro or anti any particular ideology.

  4. Joe Lapp Says:

    Gorden, I think you’ve hit on what motivates the right — they feel like Christianity is being repressed. Somehow they’ve come to equate secularism with repression. The government either gives all religions equal balance, or gives none of them time or place at all. The latter is far more practical. The far right wants preference for Christianity, and they feel repressed for not being given that preference.

    Acknowledging Christianity in the history books is fine. It did have a huge impact on the U.S., particularly on the Establishment Clause, since Christians were persecuting Christians in Europe for not being Christian according to the state-sanctioned denomination. The Texas GOP ignores this. Better to have Christians persecuting Christians than to make room for non-Christians.

    Texas GOP 2008 Platform: “Throughout the world people dare to dream of freedom, of opportunity, of a beautiful country in which to grow, to raise their family, to worship God in their own way without fear. … As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice. … We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state.” (PDF at http://bit.ly/SkK4d)

    All religions are equal, but some are more equal than others.

  5. Ben Says:

    I’m trying to figure out why it’s unfortunate to be lumped in with the “activist atheists.” Of course, I understand that society, in general, heaps a big ol’ helping of stigma on atheism—but that’s just another bit of dogma that we need to get past. It’s not atheism that threatens religious freedom in this country. We value it as much as you do, for obvious reasons.

    As for “repression,” Gordon, I think you’re way off base. Protecting religious freedom and accurate accounts of history is the same as oppressing Christianity? I’d like to see the twisted logic to support that.

  6. Charles Says:

    I agree with David. No one here is against Christianity. The few atheists here would just like Christians to leave them alone and quit bugging them. After all, if they have made a firm decision of conscience on a religious issue, people should respect that and not pester them to death about it. Were the tables turned, I expect the Christians would feel the same. Everyone has a right to personal conscience. Thank you God. Thank you Thomas Jefferson.

    The radical right bloc on the Texas SBOE thinks everyone is angry at them because they are Christians. That is not true. So many people are peeved at them because:

    1) Christian Neo-Fundamentalists like them define the Christian faith so narrowly that in the end no one else is a “true” Christian except for them. This is the issue Ben brought up the other day. If you think you are Tigger and “Tigger is the ONLY ONE,” then everyone else is automatically a stranger outside of your circle and whatever people outside of your circle believe is just as automatically wrong. Regardless of whether you are a Christian or a nonChristian, most people do not like being alienated like that—especially by two-bit elected government bureaucrats. The Texas SBOE alienates a large number of the people it was elected to serve, and it does this alienation on both religious and politico-ideological grounds.

    2) They are using the authority of government to force their narrow religious and political beliefs on everyone outside of their little circle–particularly kids and parents. If you come down to my house, kick in my front door with a gun in your hand, and tell me that I have five minutes to become a “Bible-believing” Christian like you OR ELSE, then something is wrong in River City.

    The Texas SBOE is effectively doing the same thing to Texas kids and parents who do not subscribe to their religious and political viewpoints. Effectively, the only difference is that they are kicking in the doors to our children’s public school classrooms, putting a loaded TEKS document to our kid’s heads, and telling them they have five minutes to become a right wing Christian Neo-Fundamentalist just like them OR ELSE.

    Parents do not cotton to two-bit elected bureaucrats treating them and their children that way. It makes people angry. People are not angry because the Texas SBOE has some people on it who claim to be Christians. They are angry because of the way they and their kids are being treated.

  7. David Says:

    I’m not trying to stigmatize atheists. (That’s kind of funny, atheists with stigmata.)
    The point I’m trying to make is that there is a diversity of opinion among people who are opposed to the hooey of the far-right.
    They want to force their religion on everyone else, and claim oppression when people resist.
    This has never been, and never will be, a religious discussion. It’s just about politics and power.
    What Charles says…

  8. Ben Says:

    Charles, to the contrary, I don’t want Christians to leave me alone. Several of my closest friends–I’m talking forty-year relationships–are Christians. I don’t want them to leave me alone any more than they want me to leave them alone. Of course, we very rarely sit around and talk about religion, and the few times we have, there hasn’t been the slightest tension or ill will. What I DO want is the same thing you want–at least as it relates to the SBOE.

    Also, my atheism has nothing do with a decision of conscience. It has to do with the lack of evidence for any gods or any other supernatural entity. It is no more a decision of conscience than my disbelief in unicorns.

  9. James F Says:

    There is no way to teach American history without acknowledgement of the role of Christianity, expecially Protestantism. Any purge of this influence is establishment of anti-Religion as religion.

    A purge of Christianity from American history is not the goal; the goal is to counteract the “Christian Nation” historical revisionism. If you can revise history, you can disregard the Jeffersonian wall of separation between church and state that derives from the First Amendment, and head down the road to theocracy.

    It sends a chill down my spine that in Robert Heinlein’s If This Goes On—, written in 1940, a theocrat wins the U.S. Presidency in 2012.

  10. David Says:

    Ben, would you stipulate that your decision to be honest and up front about your beliefs (or lack thereof) is a matter of conscience?

    What continually gets lost in the whole discussion around these “aggressive evangelicals” or whatever we call them is the glaringly obvious fact that they are fundamentally insecure in their beliefs. Their internal faith is weak, and that’s why they feel threatened by challenges to their beliefs. If they truly believe God is omnipotent, they shouldn’t feel like it was up to them to force belief on everyone who disagrees with their interpretation.
    And of course, that brings us around, once again, to the understanding that they’re stupid, because only a stupid person would think you could force belief on others. History has proven that time and again. You may make everyone pay lip service, but they’ll hold their belief quietly, in secret. You won’t know for sure who is a true believer.

  11. Charles Says:

    Okay Ben. I understand your gayness (chuckle). Just kidding. I make the same inept “logical” assumptions about my gay friends without asking for the real meat and potatoes from the horse’s mouth. I stand corrected, and thank you.

  12. Ben Says:

    David, absolutely.

    Charles, thank you, too, for indulging me. (I’ve never once thought you were inept.)

    James F, you’ve hooked me. I’m going to have to read that book.

  13. Gordon Fowkes Says:

    The Founders who wrote the original Constitution were some very smart gentlemen who understood the uses and abuses of power. . They disagreed on an awful lot of issues, their compromises have lasted longer than most and under a much wider range of change of the basic human conditions. But the Founders were neither Gods nor super beings and their intents at the time is of considerable academic interest, but the intent of the Founders is not law. The ratification of the amendments and the Supreme Court decisions are the law.

    It helps to remember the Law of Inverse Attribution when reading those who quote this rationale or that;
    1) Brag about one’s weakest virtue,
    2) Blame with strongest vice.

    Consequently those who proclaim they know the Truth, don’t. Those who demand freedom, want to enslave others. Orwell had it right in his works “HOmage to Catalonia, 1984 and Animal Farm.

    Peace is War, Love is hate, Freedom is slavery … Double think, Double speak. The Law of Inverse Attribution.

  14. Gordon Fowkes Says:

    There really isn’t a policy in the Constitution for Separation of Church and State. The First Amendment prohibits establishment as well as repression. Barring a cross on public land is repression pure and simple. If public land is Gott-Frei, no place is safe.

    The issues at hand over the State Bored of Education, an oxymoron if there ever was one, goes to the heart of the question as to whether state government should have such a board. Why not let each local school district pick it’s own books? Answer is Texas to the core and that is united Texas wields a big stick.

    All this control will eventually dissipate as on-line education replaces paper books and the internet facilitating really free inquiry. As a former history teacher, I used novels to teach history and geography and promoted the use of the library to refute or reinforce what was surfaced in class. OBTW: it was a private school in New England.

  15. Charles Says:

    Correct. I do not think anyone is out to purge the Christian faith or any other religious faith from American history. If anything, it has probably not been talked about enough. I think you can do that without turning history class into a worship service for a particular Christian or religious sect, a realization that does not appear to have dawned on the Texas SBOE. On some level, I think they would like to see an altar call at the end of each science and American history class.

    “Now, after that rousing Civil War worship service, if someone feels led by the Spirit, please come forward and kneel beneath the big Rand Mc Nally map. Please. Don’t be shy. You can feel Massachusetts and Alabama calling you to their cartesian coordinates.”

  16. Joe Lapp Says:

    Gordon, why is “Barring a cross on public land is repression pure and simple”?

    How would you feel if a giant Islamic star and crescent were erected in front of a prison? If the Unitarian Universalist candle were displayed as an enormous sculpture as you entered a circuit court? If the Humanist figure were engraved on a plaque at the entrance of the capital building? If the Wiccan pentacle were prominently displayed in the public parks?

    Are you putting yourself in the shoes of others before deciding whether a cross on public land might ever present a problem?

  17. Ben Says:

    “Barring a cross on public land is repression pure and simple.”

    In the same way that barring a Star of David is repression, or barring a Wiccan symbol is repression. But you know that. It’s all or none. In some cases, courts have said, “None,” and there is no repression in that.

  18. JJR Says:

    “There really isn’t a policy in the Constitution for Separation of Church and State. ”

    Case law, the U.S. Supreme Court* so far, and most of the legal profession disagree with you on that.
    And Jefferson & Madison made the intent of the 1st Amendment unambiguously clear.

    See also the Treaty of Tripoli “The United States is in no sense founded on the Christian Religion”, ratified by Congress with the force of law.

    So you are either completely deluded, sir, or a bald-faced liar.

    (*having 6 Roman Catholic justices does scare the crap out of me, though).

  19. Charles Says:

    Oh. Gordon is all upset about the proposed removal of that memorial cross erected in memory of veterans on that piece of federal land out west. I have followed that closely for months. It is not what it appears to be, and the Religious Right and other right wing organizations withhold key information about it from people like Gordon. The most important piece of key information (which you can read plain as day in the legal briefs filed in federal court) is that the private individuals erected the cross on federal land without permission from the federal government. I work with federal laws and regulations all of the time in my work, and you have to get a written permit from the lead federal agency to do something like that. For example, if Ben and I sneaked a crew into Fort Benning one night and erected a Habitat for Humanity house on the lawn in front of their visitor center, the U.S. Army might not like that very much, and I feel sure that they would want us to take it down because we did not have a permit to do it.

    I have no problem with honoring veterans. I do have a problem with doing it in stupid and illegal ways.

  20. Gene Garman, Baylor '62 Says:

    The above two comments are examples of the confusion which exists regarding the Texas size issue. The Constitution’s religion commandments are plainly worded, so why does anyone not accept the words as written and understand them as written?

    Stop using the word “church” and the words “church and state,” as if those words are in the Constitution. They are not.

    The wording in the Constitution is no “religious” test, not “church” test, Art. 6., and the First Amendment clearly commands make no law respecting an establishment of “religion,” not of a “church.” The word in the Free Exercise commandment, “thereof,” means only that to which it refers, which is “religion,” not church. The free exercise of “religion” is not to be prohibited, which means totally forbidden, but all actions are subject to law, as the Supreme Court ruled about polygamy in 1879, Reynolds v. U.S. Texas still does not abide by that Supreme Court ruling.

    Nonetheless, it was Congress which, in 1954, by Public Law 396, unconstitutionally established “God” into the unenforceable pledge of allegiance and, in 1956 established “God” onto all currency. What part of “God” is not about “religion? DUH! What part of public schools are not related to government? The issue is simple to solve:

    “It is the religion commandments in the Constitution which should be hung on every court room wall, posted and taught in every American public school, and monumentalized throughout America, not the religion commandments of Moses or of any religion,” page 19, The Reliigion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer.

    Therefore, the first step to a solution to the Texas school board problem is to have TFN get the wording of the constitutional principle correct and start winning the argument: “religion” is not to be established by laws or any governmental agency. In the USA “religion” is to be freely (voluntarily) exercised, within the laws of the land. Government is the essence of coercion, which is the point made by the Constitution’s religion commandments, and the exercise of “religion” is not above the law.

    America is a nation in which citizens of all religions and of none are welcome to participate freely and fully in all of Americas social and political functions, but religion is not to be established by government in any way whatsoever. James Madison did not approve of the appointment of chaplains in Congress and wrote, “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history,” W&MQ, 3:555. Ecclesiastical Bodies and cowboys in America, including Texas, are still attempting to establish religion by law. Neither Congress and nor state boards of education have a constitutional right to establish religion at any level. Of course, it is okay to teach about the religions of the world, but it is unconstitutional to establish religion by official endorsement. If it looks like “religion” and smells like “religion,” then it is not to be established, whether a cross or a crescent or a star.

    The problem the Supreme Court of the USA and the Texas Board of Education have is not accepting exactly what the Constitution clearly commands, and it does the cause of separation no good when TFN and so many others do not frame the constitutional argument correctly. When in a debate about “religion,” Don’t Think of an Elephant”! I used to be on the staff of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. It was founded in 1947, yet, just like TFN, the national and state debates are still not won, in the street or in the Courts, of which the most recent Federal Appeals Court ruling is a prime example, along with the President’s Office of Faith-Based Partnerships, an in-your-face governmental rape of the Constitution’s religion commandments. Virginia outlawed use of public tax money for support of all religions in 1786. Where are the James Madisons and Thomas Jeffersons when we need them?

    For more information:

    http://www.buynewbooks.net/the-religion-commandments-the-religion-commandments-in-the-constitution-a-primer.html

  21. David Says:

    Well, we can ban crosses on public lands, or….

    we can let anyone put a cross up anywhere they want in Yosemite, Yellowstone, etc, and buddhas and menorahs and 6 pointed stars and if someone puts a golden cow up in front of my cross, then I can put a gigantic led billboard up with a picture of jesus and moses and then if someone turns half-dome into a pyramid dedicated to the sun-god then I can use great Christian American exceptionalist nuclear bombs to create a gigantic ampitheater for all the saved to congregate to before the rapture….

    I agree that the intent of the Founders is not law unless it is written into the Constitution, bill of rights or the early legislation.
    However, there are some hypocritical judges out there who have been pushing back against “judicial activism” ever since the defeat of segregation and Roe v Wade. However, they’ve recently become advocates of judicial activism on the behalf of the “human rights” of corporations.
    As the English language evolves, it is important to go back and see, “What did they MEAN by that?”, and the fact is glaringly obvious that they meant that there is no state sanctioned religion, and that the state will not be charging into church sanctuaries and telling the preacher what to preach. Everybody has equal rights, regardless of their creed. Etc. This has been generally understood, however imperfectly, since the founding. We started out imperfectly, with slavery. Eventually, integrity caught up with us, and we made our national policy match the words in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution lets us evolve upward to reach its standard.
    These Mcleroys are just ignernt. I don’t want ignernt jackasses runnin’ my country, or teachin’ my children.
    Since he’s on the way out, I propose we immortalize his stupidity by quantifying levels of foolishness with the name McLeroy. Like, that woman is a 6 on the McLeroy scale. Or, that idiot is a full 9 McLeroys.

  22. David Says:

    Our issue is really starting to fire up on Facebook. There’s a “1,000,000 against the Texas School ….” group.

  23. Gordon Fowkes Says:

    Having been a building inspector in a previous life, putting something up without a building permit is courting problems due to poor design and construction. Putting something up on any one’s property other than one’s own requires permission if not permit. Public property is problematic due to what may appear to be an endorsement of a religious or political point of view. Endorsement can be viewed as establishment and requires some sort of fairness in treating different points of view, or a flat rejection of anyone’s views.

    Given the deep roots of Christian beliefs in the American experience, and the presence of religious expressoin in works on public property since before day one creates a difficult problem. Removing long standing works of religious expression is not different from the smashing of icons in Russia during the Revolution, in Northern Europe and England during the Reformation, and at different times since before day one.

    Common sense would dictate some form of Grandfather clause for extant works, and provisions for tasteful balance thereafter.

    One might consider the hoopla over the State Bored of Education as a tempest in a tea cup, made worse by the fact that tea cups are too small for tempests. What is the great harm that is done to our children who don’t really pay much attention to the nuances of what is taught, particularly if the parents are diligent in maintaining alternative points of view.

    The problem of bias in our state supported colleges and universities,. One of my sons graduated with a Masters in Engineering at UT Austin and my other son is presently in graduate school in St Thomas. The Marxist interpretations of history and economics is taught with greater fervor in our colleges than the Rapture and Second Coming is taught in our secondary schools. What my sons have told me of the Marxist dogma taught in todays shcools has not varied more than one iota since I went to UC Berkeley and UCLA fifty years ago.

    St Thomas is a Catholic school, but I suspect the iron grip Marxist ideology has on the professional intelligentsi is far to strong even for Holy Mother Church to break. One would think that the failure of Marxists states, now mostly converted to market economies would weaken the Marxist hold on higher education.

    The problem of Marxism at and established religion is less a problem than the fact that the graduates of this false religion are crippled in the job market. Fortunately, most undergraduate Marxists become stock brokers after graduation.

    If we separate Christianity from secondary schools, should be not separate Marxism from our institutions of higer learning? Separation has that magic word “separate” in it, as in “separate but equal”. Should we use “affirmative action” to ensure a fair balance between Marxism and Christianity in both levels of education?

    The is not an issue for me between liberal and conservative. One gets me mad, and the other is scary.

  24. Yossarian Says:

    In case anyone’s interested, the History News Network is posting really excellent essays everyday (most are penned by historians).

    http://www.hnn.us/articles/124219.html

  25. David Says:

    Marxism as a political system, if it had ever been tried, would have failed. Stalinism was just a repetition of the old serfdom, with new faces. Likewise China.
    The powerful seek more power. The dogma becomes an instrument of corruption of the ideals that the dogma puts forth.
    This should be a warning to anyone thinking it’s a good idea to create a “Christian State”.
    Marxism has been displaced in sociology study by evolutionary theories of social change. Art theory by Marxists is exceedingly dreary from this vantage point. It will eventually become an historical footnote. The Marxists that are still teaching will get old and retire.
    Marxism is a dead theory.
    The need for social justice that gave Marxism its foothold in the world hasn’t disappeared, however.

    The issue between us isn’t between Christianity and Marxism. It’s between a coerced, very narrow, very political definition of Christianity, and the freedom to believe as the individual deems correct.

  26. Charles Says:

    Well, Gordon.

    I am not a Marxist, communist, or socialist. I suspect college classrooms were a lot more radical places back in the 1960s and 1970s than they are now. Honestly, I do not recall any class, even back then, where my professor was on an overt or subliminal “workers of the world unite” campaigner. Perhaps there are some in isolated places, say maybe Oregon or California, but my best instincts tell me it is not common.

    I used to work for two private economics research organizations, and my immediate supervisors at one were Ph.D. economists. One has remained a close friend of mine for the past 26 years. Best I could tell, they were all straight-laced business school types. If I were looking for Marxists under the American bed, I would probably go to the Department of Sociology at a local university. However, I have to say that I have a lot of experience with sociologists and anthropolgists too and I have yet to meet one of these raging Marxists, communist’s, sociologists, etc. even in those ranks. So, here’s what I think is happening.

    Somewhere in a California university, there is one wild-eyed, raging Marxist sociologist or economist who has tenure, a really big mouth, and a proclivity for failing to take his prescribed psychotropic medications. The John Birch Society, composed largely of people who have similarly failed to take their medications, have taken note of this guy, blown him up like a balloon to the size of a red giant star, and is running all over the United States yelling, “The sky is falling!!! The sky is falling!!!! The sky is falling!!!” Of course, that is what the JBS alarmists do best. Similarly, I have a cousin who was convinced that his optometrist planted a secret device in his eye that would allow him to see everything that my cousin was seeing—wherever he went. The medications have helped.

  27. Joe Lapp Says:

    Last night KPCC in LA interviewed McLeroy, Berlanga, and the director of the CA education commission. The audio is half an hour long and can be found at: http://bit.ly/ci5Hr9.

    One thing juicy: McLeroy says that the U.S. is a secular state founded on Biblical principles. He names the following as founding principles of the U.S. constitution: Man is made in the image of God; Man is great; Man is fallen; Man is a sinner.

    Also, between McLeroy and Berlanga, I got this clarification: Jefferson is still mentioned in the standards, but the requirement to read his writings was removed. Berlanga says that this is because Jefferson wrote about the separation of church and state.

  28. Amie Says:

    I am Amie Parsons and I am running for State Board of “Education”.
    I believe evolution is a scientific fact
    I believe our children deserve medically accurate information when it comes to health related topics such as sex education
    I believe our children deserve better!
    I recently got back from Ohio visiting friends and was attached because of our SBoE…I want to bring some pride back to Texas!
    I want to make sure that my children will not be turned away from a college just because they went to a Texas school…
    please help me make a difference!
    amie@parsonstx.com if you would like more information…
    Thanks you!
    (TFN does not endorse me I am a follower of TFN though….)

  29. Charles Says:

    McLeroy said: “…the U.S. is a secular state founded on Biblical principles. He names the following as founding principles of the U.S. constitution: Man is made in the image of God; Man is great; Man is fallen; Man is a sinner.”

    James F.

    “…a secular state founded on Biblical principles…”

    Please supply me with information on how to buy stock in your irony meters. Purchase frequency to replace the broken ones might allow me to retire early.

    What constitution has McLeroy been reading? The one for the Vatican? Also, Jesus said that none are good except the Father. Therefore, as far as I know, neither the Christian faith nor the Bible say that man is “great.” It says that the creation was god and that man is wonderously made—but not great. Okay. I have to ask it. What Bible is he reading?

  30. David Says:

    Which Constitution was he reading?

  31. David Says:

    My study of sociology extends only to an introduction to the History and Philosophy of Sociology.
    The current view of societies is that they are constantly evolving, adapting, in a state of flux. Efforts to enforce rigidity of institutions against change eventually result in the collapse of the society due to it’s inability to adapt. It becomes brittle.
    Marx’s theory has pretty much been set aside because he viewed societies as having a constant trajectory that only the imposition of a major historical shift( I.e. revolution ) could alter. This is pretty much what happened to the Soviet Union. It was prevented from adapting, so it eventually wore itself out like a pair of old shoes. The Soviet state became a breeding ground for countless unintended consequences. Corruption, alcoholism, etc. The Chinese wised up and adapted.
    That’s what would happen to a rigid ideological state devoted to Christianity.

  32. Gene Garman, Baylor '62 Says:

    And, the confusion continues? It is the principles established in the words of the Constitution which are the principles upon which the USA is founded, which means only the actual words of the Constitution are the legally supreme law of the land and in the courts of the USA. Nothing else matters. The political philosophies of no one are to be considered in our courts of law, only the actual words of the Constitution itself. The Founding Fathers and the states each accepted the wording of the Constitution as the final word regarding government and the rules for life in the USA. I repeat, the Declaration of Independence has no legal standing in a a court of law, neither does Blackstone or Locke, or Christianity, etc. Further, there is nothing about “conscience” or “natural law” in the Constitution, so its own words are all that count in terms of the principles upon which the USA is founded. The only problem which is left over is that the Supreme Court gets the final word as to the meaning of the words of the Constitution, thus it means whatever the men and women on the Supreme Court say it means. That’s our system, and is what I was taught at Washburn University School of Law, where I studied law and legal research one year.

    As for religion, it is a personal matter, not above the law in terms of actions, and not the business of government at any level, as the words of the Constitution clearly state: no religious test for public office and no establishment of religion by law or Congress or government at the county court or city hall. The First Amendment was eventually applied to all the states by Fourteenth Amendment application through decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, no state can make laws which establish “religion” or require “religious” tests for public office, or establish prayers, religion services, promotion of anyone’s religion, and/or require religion teaching and practices at any level.

    The Founding Fathers got it right from the beginning. Religion is not the business of government. And, again, the Founding Fathers (Webster’s Dictionary) are the men who actually participated in and wrote the words for the Constitution at the 1787 convention in Philadelphia, not every Tom, Dick, and Harry who lived in those days. Adams and Jefferson were not Founding Fathers, and the words “church and state” are not in the Constitution. “Religion” shall not to be established by government, including school boards. The Texas School Board needs to learn, establish, understand, and accept the words of the Constitution as the final word and end the distortions and the debate.

  33. Eric Says:

    When the right argues that the constitution doesn’t say “church and state” – they ignore that the SCOTUS has repeatedly ruled the meaning essentially does mean that, and it does apply to governments at all levels.

    My perspective is this – the 2nd amendment does NOT explicitly provide the individual right to bear arms, EXCEPT as part of an ORGANIZED militia.

    In this case, the SCOTUS has ruled that it basically means that almost any nut can have a gun.

    In both cases, the SCOTUS effectively amended the constitution to mean separation of church and state for the 1st amendment, and everyone can have guns for the second.

    The right can’t have it both ways – ignore SCOTUS on the 1st amendment, and accept it on the 2nd.

  34. Cytocop Says:

    Gordon Fowkes wrote: “The Puritans and Quakers had enormous impact on colonial development.”

    No s**t, Sherlock. Puritans hanged Quakers in Boston Common.

    Those who advocate the creeping of religion into government are those who want history to repeat itself.

    However, religion creep has been taking place over a long time. Consider:

    1. The homage candidates are expected to make to religious leaders. Both McCain and Obama appeared before religious bodies during their campaigns. Why? What has their religion got to do with the way they would govern – assuming they intend to govern according to the Constitution?

    2. Prayers said during political events, such as inaugurations. Yo, we are inaugurating the Commander-in-chief, not the Clergyperson-in-chief!!

    1. The faith-based initiative begun by George Bush and continued by Barack Obama. The faith-based initiative is a tool (which was never put to a vote!) to deliberately blur the boundary between religion and government. It funnels millions of tax dollars into organizations that proselytize. I have heard [ad nauseum] that taxpayer dollars cannot be used for abortions. Why then must my tax dollars pay for proselytization??

  35. Cytocop Says:

    Oops. Sorry, can’t even count. The above should have read 1, 2, 3….. Duh.

  36. Joe Lapp Says:

    Thanks for the interesting analysis Cytocop! I might repeat that one. Even if you can’t count.

  37. Kimberly Griffith Says:

    I wish the issue was as simple as atheists v. Christians. This goes much deeper; we have a group of neo-conservative board members who are trying to re-write history, from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Since neo-conservatism is an unfortunate side effect of the Reagan Revolution, I think we need to look more closely at Texas’ roots. Progressivism, the New Deal, and LBJ are what made this state great, not neo-conservatism–that brought another generation of carpetbaggers to Texas.

  38. Jon Says:

    Please vote for and donate to candidates who will make education, not partisan politics, the first priority of the TX SBOE.

  39. David Says:

    Right on.
    The Perry-ites forget, when they start complaining about “Washington”, that Texas gets more tax revenue from the federal government than it produces in taxes.
    They forget about all the farm and ranch subsidies that fuel Big Ag. They forget about all the disaster relief the farmers and ranchers get from the federal gov. during wildfire and drought season. Etc.
    It’s all a Big Lie.

  40. James F Says:

    Gene Garman wrote:

    Adams and Jefferson were not Founding Fathers….

    Despite Webster’s, I don’t think that’s so cut and dried. For your consideration:

    Within the large group known as “the Founding Fathers”, there are two key subsets, the Signers (who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776) and the Framers (who were delegates to the Federal Convention and took part in framing or drafting the proposed Constitution of the United States). Some historians have suggested a revised definition of the “Founding Fathers”, including a significantly broader group of not only the Signers and the Framers but also all those who, whether as politicians or jurists or statesmen or soldiers or diplomats or ordinary citizens, took part in winning American independence and creating the United States of America. The eminent American historian Richard B. Morris, in his 1973 book Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries, identified the following seven figures as the key founding fathers: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.

  41. Rocket Mike Says:

    Well, I had been asking from time to time for one of these Christian Nation types to list some of these Christian Principles they believed were embodied in the Constitution. If all they have is what McLeroy was credited with in Joe Lapp’s post, I think they are all abusing laughing gas just like McLeroy seems to be abusing it. His list is incommensurable with the Constitution. Does he even listen to what he is saying? I wonder how many bottles of N2O he uses in a week.

  42. Charles Says:

    Kimberly Griffith said:”

    “I wish the issue was as simple as atheists v. Christians. This goes much deeper; we have a group of neo-conservative board members who are trying to re-write history, from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Since neo-conservatism is an unfortunate side effect of the Reagan Revolution, I think we need to look more closely at Texas’ roots. Progressivism, the New Deal, and LBJ are what made this state great, not neo-conservatism–that brought another generation of carpetbaggers to Texas.”

    You said it. The only thing is, if I recall correctly, even Barry Goldwater said that this current crop of conservatives are a bunch of nuts shortly before he died. I know he had no respect at all for the Religious Right organizations like Moral Majority.

    Ronald Reagan would not lay claim to them either–in my opinion. They may worship Reagan and dream that Reagan would worship them, but Ronnie was actually fairly moderate. He and Tip O-Neill (liberal Speaker of the House from Massachusetts) compromised and worked closely TOGETHER to pass legislation for our country. The kind of working relationship they had would not even be possible today because of the extremist fruitcakes that have taken over the Republican Party.

  43. Cytocop Says:

    Ha, thanks Joe Lapp.

    Here’s a #4:
    The intrusion of the Catholic Bishops into the healthcare debate. Uh, why do THEY have special say in the matter, more than any other religious body? Why don’t we hear input from the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis), bodies of Muslim imams, Protestant ministers, Wiccan priests, Hindus, etc etc?

  44. Cytocop Says:

    Charles, such critique goes even further back than Barry Goldwater. According to Max Blumenthal in his book, Republican Gomorrah, Dwight Eisenhower warned in the 1950’s of religious extremists in the GOP.

  45. David Says:

    It is gonna be hella interesting in 50 yrs when the sociologists and historians start to untangle the mess that got us here.
    You have the death of the Soviet Union, and all of a sudden there’s no one for the John Birchers to be afraid of. Then Isla-fundie came along, and stimulated the religious right fruitcakes to start their own Taliban.
    Then America got really lazy and passive and started letting Rush Limbaugh do their thinking for them.
    Then….
    Man!!

    A true conservative is not someone who wishes we could go back to the way it was in the 50’s, on Ozzie and Harriet, or Father Knows Best, (not how it was in reality).
    A true conservative is someone who is concerned about the tendency of government to get bigger and less responsive. They’re worried about the state trampling on individual rights.
    They have enough sense to know that the best way to keep government small is to make it effective in the things it needs to be doing.
    These kool-aid drinking dog-whistle brainiac-not!’s ain’t conservative.

  46. John C Says:

    ‘Texas showdown over schoolbooks’ screams the Australian (via the Times)

  47. David Says:

    Well, Cytocop, most of the big groups probably have weighed in.
    But most haven’t been so heavy handed as the Bishops.
    The Catholics are in deep trouble internally.
    The United Methodists have weighed in in support of health care. There was a woman who did a terrific gentle smackdown of
    Charles Grassley at a townhall he had the nerve to hold in a Methodist Church.
    She pointed out that the U. M. didn’t believe that the health of human beings was a commodity to be traded on Wall Street.

    I don’t mind if they have a policy position on these things, as large organizations that fund hospitals, clinics, etc.
    But when they start blackmailing and leveraging and manipulating, I’m annoyed.

  48. Cytocop Says:

    David, you wrote: “But when they start blackmailing and leveraging and manipulating, I’m annoyed.”

    But that’s what they’re doing. So you & I have no dispute.

    And I have not a shred of doubt the CCAR agrees with the Methodists. Probably ALL Jewish organizations do.

  49. David Says:

    I didn’t perceive a dispute. I just wanted to mention that great moment on CSPAN when Grassley was left stammering like a complete jerk.
    I’m proud of my Methodist roots even though I’m not a joiner.

  50. Gene Garman, Baylor '62 Says:

    The Constitution contains the principles upon which the United States is founded, therefore, it is the only document by which the Supreme Court is bound, regardless of any other writing. To say that the Declaration, for example, is anything more than a declaration of Independence from King George, fails History 101, regardless of who says differently. The Constitution has legal standing in every court of law. No other document is the “supreme law of the land,” regardless of what anybody else says.

    By definition, by Webster’s, and by logical fact, the men who wrote the 1787 principles of the Constitution are the “Founding Fathers.” For example, Thomas Jefferson was in France from 1784 to 1789 and had absolutely no part in drafting the principles of the Constitution, which were written in secret sessions, and no one outside that group was informed of or involved in its decisions, under orders from General George Washington. Any other assertion fails History 101.

    Why is this point required? Fact. There is only one Constitution and the men who wrote it are the Founding Fathers. If you want to talk about the history of the world and of other people and their impact, do so without distorting the legal role of the Constitution in the USA. The Constitution says what it means, and the words “church and state” are not in the Constitution. Any assertion which says otherwise is ridiculous. Even Glenn Beck admits the words “church and state” are not in the Constitution, page 287, Arguing with Idiots.

    Why is the point important? Because the Founding Fathers, in the Constitution, commanded “religion” shall not be established by law in the USA. The members of the Texas State Board of Education who assert otherwise are not smart or honest or educated enough to comprehend what the Constitution says in plain English and they should be embarrassed. But, if the facts of accurate history, of American constitutional history, and of the Constitution are meaningless, then the purpose of law is merely a worthless concept, so why worry about whatever the Board wants to do? Why even participate in this discussion?

  51. David Says:

    As you know, in order to obtain a remedy through the constitution, you have to have a legal case in the courts which makes its way to the Supreme Court.
    I’m sure there will be all sorts of challenges when the opportunity arises.
    In the meantime, we can discuss what a bunch of dumbasses these guys are and help get them all voted out of office.

  52. Gordon Fowkes Says:

    The Seventh Amendment establishes that the facts in a trial shall be examined in accordance with the Common Law.

    “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

    In short and in this sense, Common Law is precedent, that which previous judges ruled in circumstances in which the law and the facts were the same. The bulk of law school is learning the precedents for all and sundry. No court room drama (Anatomy of a Murder, 1955, Jimmy Stewart) is complete without springing some case law in the nick of time.

    The Constitution is not a Code of Law as is the Code Napoleon in use in Europe and Louisiana, and even now the notion of precedent in coming in vogue. Common law evolved in English courts to solve the problem to prevent different judges from ruling differently when the facts and law were the same.

    The so-called “strict Constitutionalism” ignores the concept that circumstances, the facts change as does science, technology and techniques change over time. The lawyers and judges struggle to figure out how law and precedent fits entirely new phenomenon. The courts have applied parts of maritime law to air craft. Intellectual property rights have had to be applied to electronic media, not just paper and mouth.

    In this, the law doesn’t change, the facts do, the results is a new fit (hopefully).

  53. Gordon Fowkes Says:

    The word principles has weighty import, but the Constitution was more about horse trading than lofty principles. Or, if you like, the principles of horse trading. The term “supreme law of the land” is about those powers given to the Federal government by the states through ratifying the Constitution. Those powers not delegated, as per the Tenth Amendment, remain with the state. There is a popular opinion about how the Tenth Amendment is no longer germane, or should be resurrected. This is humbug!

    Consider what the United States would be like without the Tenth Amendment. All courts and law enforcement agencies including meter maids, would be Federal. There would be no state Constitutions and all governors would be appointed by the President of the United States.

    States rights exist in fact. If three quaters of the State legislatures wanted to abolish the Constitution, they can in accordance with the Constitution’s rules on amendments. That means that thirteen states can save the union, the same number that could have prevented abolition had they the sense to stay in the Union.

    The State legislature is the source of authority in our jurisprudential system. Ratification by the state legislature(s) of the Constitution ratifys the turning the execution of certain sovereign rights to the Federal government. One way to check that is to note the seals of manyof the states proclaiming the Sovereign State of Texas, or of most of the other states. The sovereignty of the Untied States is bad grammar … it’s THESE United States (as in plural)

    Once given over to the Federal government, the argument for secession is unclear. If a state can’t secede, why were they forced to be re-admitted?

  54. David Says:

    Of course.
    Things change. The U.S. probably won’t last forever.
    Everybody in the country could choose to move to California too, and it would be real crowded, and it would be real empty in the other states.
    Theoretically Texas could secede, whether the rest of the country wanted it to or not. Then there would be a war to protect the property in Texas which is not owned by persons living in Texas. Etc.
    This country is joined together so many ways, through commerce, the federal highway system, farm subsidies (don’t forget those), etc. , it’s impossible to even think about where to start drawing the line.
    The secessionists are extreme fools. If Texas did secede, it would quickly be taken back by Mexico.
    I don’t think the majority of Texans want to be ruled by the idiot wing of the dumbass party.

  55. Gene Garman, Baylor '62 Says:

    Spare me, Dear Jesus:

    Art. VI (2): “This Constitution … shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. … (3) … and the members of the several State legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution ….

    Art. 10: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    States have legal authority only as allowed by the Supreme Court of the United States. Courts below the Supreme Court have local jurisdiction judge made “common” law only as allowed by the Supreme Court of the United States. There is very little common law in the federal system because the Supreme Court of the United States is the final word on every issue which comes before it. The Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means, as every freshman law school student learns. There is only one supreme court in this land, and anarchy is illegal. The right wing, its anarchists, and its religionists, like those on the Texas State Board of education are wrong.

  56. Gordon Fowkes Says:

    Gene Garman says “States have legal authority only as allowed by the Supreme Court of the United States. Courts below the Supreme Court have local jurisdiction judge made “common” law only as allowed by the Supreme Court of the United States. There is very little common law in the federal system because the Supreme Court of the United States is the final word on every issue which comes before it.”

    Sorry Gene, you copied the text of the Tenth Amendment that reserves rights not given to the Federal government to the States and people respectively. That means what it says. The fundamental difference between the restrictions on the Federal government and that of the states is that the Federal government must link it’s actions (legislation, executive decision, or judicial review) to the powers granted to the federal government and the states pass any legislation, etc so long as it isn’t prohibited or is reserved for the Federal government.

    The difference is between the federal need to find a clause that gives it authority, and the states don’t. The eighteen specified powers of the Congress in Article 1, Section 8 is that which is clearly Federal. The commerce clause and the necessary and proper clause are the basis for the expansion of Federal authority. These are:

    “To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes”;

    “To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.”

    The Supreme Court’s jurisdiction is one of judicial review. Other courts have original jurisdiction under state law or by the Congress as in the military court systems and the Federal Court system. There are two basic ways a case reaches the Supreme Court and that is through the Federal Court system through it’s appelate system or from the Supreme Court of a State. In either case, the Supreme Court is picky about what it hears, it decides whether the case is of significance Constitutionally.

    The Common Law is case law, that of precedent and the precedents go back before the Revolution to the Magna Carta in which some English barons defeated King John of England in battle and made him sign the document that is accepted as the beginning of the Anglo-American legal and political systems.

    Under no circumstance are states beholden on the Supreme Court for their laws and courts unless there is a Constitutional prohibition or Federal restriction that is within the jurisdiction of the Federal Government (as in the 18 specified powers)

  57. Gene Garman, Baylor '62 Says:

    Obviously and as they taught us at law school, the Tenth Amendment is not a contradiction of Article VI. Section 2 and 3. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, judges in every state are bound by the Supreme Law of the Land, and the Supreme Court is the final decider as to what states their courts, and their judges can and cannot do constitutionally. Any freedom left over, as in “common law,” exists only in terms of local jurisdictional judge decisions. The Tenth Amendment is not a license for anarchy outside the words of the Constitution or of Supreme Court of the United States decisions. The Civil War ended several years ago, the Fourteenth Amendment is a part of the supreme law of the land, and every state and judge is bound thereby, as they are to every word of the Constitution for the United States of America. The USA is not a tribal nation or a loose confederation. It is the United States of America.

    In the United States of America, anarchy is illegal, and “religion” shall not be established by law at any level of government, including in Texas.

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