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Something is Rotten in the State of Texas

Something is Rotten in the State of Texas

Arielle Gingold is Public Policy Manager at Interfaith Alliance and a former Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center. The post originally appeared on State of Belief Blog and is republished with permission.

You just can't make this stuff up. Today, the Texas State Board of
Education voted on a variety of amendments to the state social studies
and U.S. government curricula. Get ready to be appalled at the
outcomes. As reported by the Texas Freedom Network, the Board voted to

  1. remove Thomas Jefferson from world history curriculum on the impact of Enlightenment thinkers
  2. include discussion of the right to bear arms in curriculum on First Amendment rights and free expression
  3. strike down an amendment that
    would have required students to "examine the reasons the Founding
    Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government
    from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others."

What is most unbelievable and emblematic of the Board's far-right
majority's (lack of) understanding of the separation between religion
and government in America is the third item in this litany of woes. 
According to Cynthia Dunbar (one of the more prominent conservatives on
the Board), the separation of religion and government wasn't actually
the Founders' intent-- they wanted to promote religion.  Therefore, said Dunbar, the proposed amendment was "not historically accurate."

While (luckily), Thomas Jefferson isn't out of Texas education
curricula as a whole, there is no doubt that he is one of the
preeminent American scholars of the Enlightenment era and it is a shame
students will not learn that.  Also, last time I checked, the right to
bear arms had its own section of the Bill of Rights, you know, the Second Amendment.

What's more unfortunate is that such a narrow minded group of individuals have such power
over what children learn across the country, that these are "guidelines
that will affect students around the country, from kindergarten to 12th
grade, for the next 10 years."  Why? Because
the state of Texas buys or distributes "a staggering 48 million
textbooks annually," which leads "educational publishers to tailor
their products to fit the standards dictated by the Lone Star State."

To quote
our friends at the Texas Freedom Network: "Let the word go out here:
The Texas State Board of Education today refused to require that
students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from
promoting one religion over all others. They voted to lie to students
by omission."

Published: 3/12/2010

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