Archive for the ‘Texas Faith Network’ Category

Far Right Smears Clergy from Press Conference

May 12, 2010

Wow. It didn’t take long for far-right pressure groups to start smearing clergy members who want the Texas State Board of Education to stop trying to undermine religious freedom in social studies classrooms. Just minutes after the Texas Faith Network’s Capitol press conference today, the far right’s lies started flying across the Internet.

Jonathan Saenz, a lawyer/lobbyist for Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the Family, claimed that the Christian and Jewish clergy who spoke at the press conference “personally attack(ed) the Christian faith of some State Board of Education members.” Really, Jonathan? How? When? It should be no surprise that he didn’t offer a shred of evidence for such an absurd and reckless charge. (Folks shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for Saenz to apologize to those clergy men and women.)

Saenz also had the gall to question the truthfulness of clergy speakers who want social studies classes to teach the truth about how the Founders barred government from promoting one religion over all others:

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Clergy Take Stand on Social Studies

May 12, 2010


The State Board of Education’s reckless revisions to proposed social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools have raised serious concerns among classroom teachers and scholars regarding pedagogical issues and historical accuracy. Issues involving religious freedom are also a growing concern, however. In March the board rejected a proposed standard that would have required high school students to study how the Founders barred government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion. Some board members have suggested, instead, that the Founders actually wanted government to promote religion. They have also expressed strong opposition to separation of church and state.

At a press conference at the Texas Capitol today, a group of about two dozen interfaith clergy called on the state board to stop undermining instruction on religious freedom — including the principle of separation of church and state — in proposed new social studies curriculum standards. The clergy are members of the Texas Faith Network, a project of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. The Texas Faith Network includes more than 600 mainstream and progressive clergy from around the state.

Here’s the press release from today’s event:

An interfaith group of clergy today called on the State Board of Education to stop downplaying constitutional protections for religious freedom in proposed new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools.

The board will meet in Austin on May 19-21 to debate and take a final vote on the proposed social studies standards. Because of the state’s large size, publishers will write new textbooks to meet Texas standards and then sell those books across the country.

“Our Founding Fathers understood that the best way to protect religious liberty in America is to keep government out of matters of faith,” said the Rev. Roger Paynter, pastor of Austin’s First Baptist Church. “But this state board appears hostile to teaching students about the importance of keeping religion and state separate, a principle long supported in my own Baptist tradition and in other faiths.”

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