God 1, Hispanics 0

March 12, 2010 • 2:33 pm

The Texas School Board approves a new social studies curriculum, described by the New York Times as “stressing the role of Christianity in American history and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.”

You can find the standards here.  Have a gander if you have time.  Here’s a screenshot of page 7 of the new high school standards:

Figure 1.  God bless America Texas

The Texas Freedom Network is an organization devoted to opposing the religious, right-wing hijacking of politics and education in Texas.  You can read the latest on the curriculum wars at their TFN Insider website, and a summary of the issues here.

53 thoughts on “God 1, Hispanics 0

  1. Fascism rears its ugly head again and lies about reality.

    Phyllis Schlafly – please, a Sarah Palin predecessor.

    Richard Nixon’s role – foul mouthed bigot, liar and criminal.

    Reaganomics – voodoo economics.

    Peace through Strength – just words.

    1. “Just words”, isn’t that also applicable to “the american way of life”? Because it doesn’t seem to have an observable definition. [Except for the naive one, as the way americans are seen to live, in which case it instead seems rather superfluous.]

    1. “I cannot believe they replaced Thomas Jefferson with Thomas Aquinas…”
      They didn’t really want Aquinas – it’s just that ‘Torquemada’ sounds a little too hispanic.

      1. “Torquemada – do not implore him for compassion. Torquemada – do not beg him for forgiveness. Torquemada – do not ask him for mercy. Let’s face it, you can’t Torquemada anything!”

    1. But he won’t actually be replaced for 10 months. So he and his accomplices have ten months to destroy education, without consequences. They’ve already been voted out, so what more can be done?

  2. There aren’t many choices there. Makes you wonder what’s on page 10?

    Pick one of the following discussion points write an eight page essay.

    a. Why you think Obama’s a bastard?
    b. Why are Atheists such bastards?
    c. Why evilution sucks and evolutionists are bastards?
    d. How liberals are ruining America?
    c. Practical plan for creating a Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon hybrid and how she (Sarah Palin) will save America

    You got to admire the open-mindedness.

    Blessed Atheist Bible Study@ http://blessedatheist.com

  3. Read about these folks in the Atlantic in a disturbingly undisturbed account. Every day I feel less like we are on an unsteady march and more as though we are in full retreat.

    Btw – what happens if the kid describes the Gingrich plan as the Contract on America?

  4. I have read about this here in Australia and I know the Creationists and Republicans seem to be joined at the hip. It is irrational to be doing this Republican thing at school and could be illegal under anti-discrimination laws at lest federally. If I was a parent in Texas, I would be doing something about it, I am not and am dealing with protecting my children from such Fascist behaviours from the Governments here in Australia

  5. That National Rifle Association, aka Lunatics with Guns?

    And support Israel as in ‘One nation of war criminals helps another’?

  6. Whatever happened to teaching the controversy? Shouldn’t students also be learning about socialized medicine, labor unions, gun control, birth control, and Barack Obama? Shouldn’t they be watching all Michael Moore’s movies in class?

  7. I like (27):

    “(F) identify bias in written, oral, and visual material;”

    Maybe a few examples would have been helpful, like calling Billy Graham a significant social leader or any of the things brought up by #2 (newenglandbob).

    1. “Fuck it, Im moving to Costa Rica……what> what do you mean Limbaugh is already moving there?!?!?! DAMNIT!”

      At least they have universal healthcare in Costa Rica.

  8. Dr. McLeroy pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent approach.

    Don’t you just love how that title gives him some air of authority. He’s a f-ing DENTIST for chrissakes!

    They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.”

    Where’s George Orwell? or the cdesign proponentsists? I can see textbook printing errors “cafree-enterprise systemism”

    “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”


    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

    Well, David, I’d like that charity money to go to Non-Believers Giving Aid, please. Thank you very much.

  9. Ed Brayton does a fine post on the Texas SBOE removing enlightenment thinking: http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2010/03/texas_boe_removes_jefferson_fr.php

    That’s interesting because Christianists frequently though falsely claim enlightenment as their philosophical legacy that also buttresses their modern-day movement. Yet here are some attempting to avoid the topic altogether.

    Of course they also claim science supporters are religionists and make it a pejorative; so illogical inconsistencies held simultaneously and coupled to false perceptions is nothing new with this group.

  10. I think I already stated my preference that we teach the history of world religions. THAT would be teaching the controversy, esp’ly if you taught the political, cultural and social dynamic of the times they were invented (and reinvented.) Damn heretical of me, I know.
    bwaa haa haa

  11. “Stressing the role of Christianity in American history…”

    Just about time that school children recognize the Christian roots of the United States. All presidents have so far been Christians.

    Christians fought hard to preserve freedom, which is now being enjoyed by people of many faiths in the U.S. Those enjoying this freedom include atheists who have so much faith in their reason that an intelligent Creator doesn’t exist even if the vast and very complex universe point to an intelligent designer.

    1. In keeping with the subsequent request by WEIT. I want to point out the christians also fought hard to make sure the black man stayed a slave, and many christians that foungt against that, wanted the black man gone from the US, because the black man sure as hell wasn’t equal.

      Just sayin’

    2. Well, that is factually not true.
      Thomas Jefferson was a deist.
      The one who put the word “creator” in the Declaration of Independence.
      Yes, that Thomas Jefferson.

      1. That might be a bit strong. Many scholars consider Jefferson a unitarian, and he was certainly a friend and supporter of Joseph Priestly, a unitarian minister and amateur scientist who sort of discovered oxygen and carbon dioxide and who also got Franklin to publish his original work on electricity.

        Some will go so far as to call Franklin, Washington and Jefferson unitarian, in the sense that they believed in a god who attends to current events but did not accept the divinity of Jesus.

      2. The best descriptor of Jefferson’s beliefs is theistic rationalism. Unitarian is a descriptor of a group of which Jefferson did not belong. However he did enter into frequent dialogues with several Unitarians, most notably Joesph Preistley and John Adams, where we have ample primary source documents to show that Jefferson’s beliefs were consistent with small u unitarianism.

        Theistic rationalist is a fairly new phrase coined by historian Dr. Gregory Frazer, who happens to be an inerrant evangelical though he’s a contributor to history and not a propagandist. Historians now prefer avoiding using the oft-misunderstood term “deist” since people mistakenly believes all deists don’t believe in an intervening god interested in the affairs of humans. A theistic rationalist believes in a providential god interested in the affairs of humans but not necessarily a constantly intervening god. Like deism, the theistic rationalism also promotes human reason over both religious dogma and claims of divine revelation as a superior method to reaching objective truth.

        Some TR’s would believe in prayer though most focused on promoting religion in order to emphasize morality, which they believe was sourced from religion, often ‘natural religion’.

        Use of the term deism is now being avoided by a growing number of historians when describing many of the framer’s beliefs since the general understanding of the term now is so narrow as to create a misunderstanding of what many of the framers believed. For example, most people believe all deists don’t believe in a intervening god interested in the affairs of humans; that doesn’t reconcile with many of the framers’ beliefs.

        I tend to think the general public misunderstands the term deism equivalent to their frequent misunderstanding of how Science uses the word theory.

        IIRC, the only founders (none of whom were key framers) that I’m aware of that fit the general understanding of deism is Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen, and Gouverneur Morris. That’s off the top of my head though, there could be more.

        1. Thanks, that was very useful!

          Deism gives me the creeps, since you need to be really cryptoinductivist to reject testing altogether. Most cryptoinductivists happily live with cognitive dissonance instead. Not so deists, they morbidly move out of touch with empiricism while lauding it. Like, say, creationists or accommodationists.

          [Actually the sole difference between deists and accommodationists is that the former wants to shore up belief, the latter belief in belief.]

          So I’m glad historians wades through the muck and surfaces some dirty but useful definitions out of it.

    3. To begin, I don’t think it unreasonable that Christianity should be mentioned in history. It is obviously part of our history and to ignore that would be absurd. However, all sides of Christianity must be stressed, good and bad. Such as the prosecution of witches, slavery, genocide of native americans, etc.

      It should be noted that some presidents were Unitarians, since they do not accept the holy trinity are they still Christian? These are John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, William Howard Taft.

      Furthermore, I don’t know of a single atheist who claims faith in their reason that an intelligent creator doesn’t exist. Atheists simply view the world with the working hypothesis that a creator does not exist. If evidence is ever shown that the hypothesis is incorrect, their minds will be changed. As it stands now, the evidence for the nonexistence of a creator, or rather of a creator who interferes in our world, is far greater than a the evidence for a creator.

      1. Presumably you are aware that there are scientists on this blog? It would be prudent to specify who and why reading is deemed a need.

    4. Amy – you claim that “all American Presidents have been Christians”.

      Could you please provide your definition of what a President is so I can better understand your claim?

      I’m a long-time student of American History specializing in the Constitution, our founding, the framers (though not all the founders), early American Presidents, and church-state issues. I’d like to respond to your claim but would first want to understand how you are framing the term Christian prior to doing so.

      For example, does your definition of a Christian include unitarians who do not believe in the following: a triune god, Jesus as God’s son or resurrected, the Holy Spirit, a constantly intervening god but instead a deity that is interested in the affairs of man and is providential but does not work outside the laws of nature.

      Would your definition include a person who rejects religious dogma and claims of divine revelation if they differed from human reason; in fact a person who promoted human reason as the best approach to seeking objective truth?

      I’d also appreciate your explaining exactly how the first five Presidents were Christians. I assume you would agree that merely being a member of a church doesn’t make one a Christian, that instead and at a minimum a Christian is someone whose who believes in a theistic god and who approaches God through his resurrected son Jesus Christ. If you agree, than I’d also appreciate your providing a linked citation to a primary source document which validates that this minimum has been met.

    5. …even if the vast and very complex universe point to an intelligent designer

      The complex universe points to nothing of the sort. The only thing it points to is that we are a brief-lasting, insignificant part of it.

  12. Please do not respond violently to stuff like that produced by Amy above—I don’t want this site devolving into long flame wars on the threads. If you don’t have anything substantive to say, don’t post in response.

    Argument yes, name-calling, well, not so much. Let’s try to keep the place classy.


  13. Just went through the entire TEKS draft.
    As I’ve written before, I spent my first school years under one of the most draconian Communist regimes. Indoctrination and brainwashing were the order of the day. It was a harsh and traumatic experience, but it taught me how to fight back, how to keep my inner compass.
    Never since, in the Western world, have I encountered such an explicitly Orwellian curriculum like this Texas draft.
    Sift carefully through all the ‘red strikethroughs’, set them in context, and you’ll get a chilling sense of the thought police at work. Worst of all, a thought police which probably does not perceive itself as such.
    One thing I don’t get: how any self-respecting historian, or any self-respecting teacher for that matter, could willingly participate in such a disgrace.

    To Amy at #15, with all due respect, and taking Jerry’s injunction very seriously:
    One expression, in the phrase you are quoting, should make your alarm bells ring:
    Stressing the role of Christianity in American history…”
    This is exactly the difference between indoctrination and teaching. The problem is not ‘the role of Christianity’. The problem is whether you want children to form their own judgement, to form their basic intellectual tools, or to affirm and repeat the pre-digested things you believe in.
    Any civilised curriculum board I have known or can imagine would substitute Stressing with Discussing, Analysing, Explaining, or any other word signifying a conscious effort at critical thinking.
    Just one word. But a world of difference.
    If the child then concludes that the role of Christianity deserves unmitigated praise, and sets forth arguments for this conclusion, so be it. But it would be the result of the child’s own knowledge and thought processes. That’s what education in a free country should strive for.

    1. This, from the same people who want to
      “teach the controversy”!
      The problem with a concept like “the role of christianity” is that it assumes “christianity” is a monolith. For example, concerning slavery, the Quakers were against it, the southern Baptists were for it. Therefore “christianity” without further specification had no role at all (except perhaps inflaming the emotions). The same is true for the Revolutionary War.

      1. Your contrasting the Quakers with the southern Baptists provides an excellent example for the benefits of a solid, source-based, critical study of history at school, which some in Texas seem to find so threatening. One could start with Adam Smith’s famous comment, in Chapter 2 of the Wealth of Nations:
        The late resolution of the Quakers in Pennsylvania, to set at liberty all their negro slaves, may satisfy us that their number cannot be very great. Had they made any considerable part of their property, such a resolution could never have been agreed to.

        Now, a serious discussion would include the next few lines of Smith’s paragraph, prompting a quest for sources and data:
        In our sugar colonies, on the contrary, the whole work is done by slaves, and in our tobacco colonies a very great part of it. The profits of a sugar plantation in any of our West Indian colonies, are generally much greater than those of any other cultivation that is known either in Europe or America; and the profits of a tobacco plantation, though inferior to those of sugar, are superior to those of corn, as has already been observed. Both can afford the expense of slave cultivation but sugar can afford it still better than tobacco. The number of negroes, accordingly, is much greater, in proportion to that of whites, in our sugar than in our tobacco colonies.

        Fascinating stuff, and essential for the understanding of the formation of colonial economies. But not exactly the kind of information welcome to ideologues seeking to blow the trumpet to ye faithful. As always, what is being hidden is most revealing.

  14. “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”

    – George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3

    1. There’s also the joke that the one unforgivable sin for a Soviet historian was to try to predict the past.

  15. Wow – the stupid is beyond belief!
    Next thing you know, jesus was our first president. Yeehah! Three cheers for the Loon Star State!

  16. Amy says “Just about time that school children recognize the Christian roots of the United States. All presidents have so far been Christians.”

    Just so. And just how bigoted and intollerent those Christian rrots were. See, for example, the Pilgrim Fathers and the English Civil War.

    Their idea of religious freedom was freedom for themsleves (which they already had in copious quantities before they crossed the Atlantic) and no freedom for others.

    Every country in the developed world has at some time or other had to curb the power of organised religion and, in effect, become secular. What is happening in Texas is just the opposit. It’s a return to the 17th century.

    I doubt whether you are honestly claiming that children should be taught just how malign religion has been in the USA and its body politic?

    According to one of the reports on TalkOrigins, the Ku Klux Klan had 40,000 pastors as members. The very existance of America’s largest Protestant denomination, the SBC, is a product of its own racism and bigotry.

    Indeed, today, one is hard pressed to find a Western world country that is as bigoted and hypocritical about religion as the United States.

    It seems to me to be the norm in the USA for people to believe that the USA is, somehow, specially favoured by God and is therefore morally superior to the rest of the world. According to this fantasy, it’s the God given duty of Americans to export American values and convert the rest of the world to its religious beliefs. It’s staggeringly patronising.

    “Christians fought hard to preserve freedom, which is now being enjoyed by people of many faiths in the U.S.”

    So? So did people who are not Christian. See India or just about any country in Europe. There is nothing either unique or original about freedom of religion in the USA. It’s jingosim to assume otherwise.

    “Those enjoying this freedom include atheists who have so much faith in their reason that an intelligent Creator doesn’t exist even if the vast and very complex universe point to an intelligent designer.”

    Intelligent Design is not accepted anywhere in science, nor by the major religious denominations nor by Christian scientists. It’s a religious position of deeply dishonest American religious fundamentalists not Christians (or any other religious believers) in general. It’s fraudulent of you to suggest otherwise.

    Americans are a pretty confident lot but it’s frequently difficult to distinguish that confidence from the arrogance of ignorance.

    I put it to you Amy that Christianity has done a lot less thank you think for America and much of what it has done has been, at best, incompetent, at worse, exceedingly malign. The USA is now seriously socially backward as a result.

    It’s given America prohibition (one of the stupidest ideas in history), the world the anti-intllectual ignorance of creationism, a climate of staggering intollerence towards lack of religious belief and a dysfunctional political system. The USA has lost the respect of the rest of the world.

    BTW Goege W Bush may be a Christian. He was also a drunk. In any event, so what. Every head of state of my country over the last 1,100 years has been a Christian. That does not make my country virtuous.


    1. Mr. Stanyard states,

      I put it to you Amy that Christianity has done a lot less thank you think for America and much of what it has done has been, at best, incompetent, at worse, exceedingly malign. The USA is now seriously socially backward as a result.

      I attended public school in a very socially conservative town. When I went to a large state university and started taking a lot of history classes I was stunned at the degree that religion played in Western Civilization, including American History and noting where it was not allowed a role.

      I went to my Early American history prof and asked him why my public school censored so much of this history from us, especially since it buttressed why the framers were so adamant about creating a secular government and in hindsight, how radical and wise they were for doing so. His response was prescient, there is no way local school boards are going to allow the malignment of religion on school children.

      This tension was a primary motivator for me to continue to study church-state matters long after graduation.

  17. JD says “It should be noted that some presidents were Unitarians, since they do not accept the holy trinity are they still Christian? These are John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, William Howard Taft.”

    Let’s translate this into plain English that Amy and others can understand. At the time of its independence the USA was basically not very religious.

    Today it’s nothing like as religious as fundamentalists and sundry wingnuts claim. American politicians frequently lie through theor back teeth when they claim to be religious. The public attends church far less frequently than they claim in national polls.

    Basically a huge proportion of Americans “go along” with religion because otherwise they are socially ostracised.

    As I say, religion in America is basically malign.

  18. Reply to Michael Heath

    Th power of organised religion had been severely curtailed in the Western World by the time America had claimed independence. The process had started long before hand.

    The plave where religion and politics in Western Europe are most intertwined today is Northern Ireland. It’s no advertisement for religion in government given that it has just come out of a 30 year civil war and is the biggest dump in Western European. It has a lot in common with Texas, btw.

  19. As a Texas ex-patriot and atheist, I’ve been watching the news about Texas educational standards with growing horror. But now I’m concerned about the reliability of the people reporting on it. I’ve done a quick review of the middle school and high school proposed standards, and the example in the screenshot above is about the worst of it. Other than the part about the motto and the quote from the declaration of independance there is no reference to god. Am I missing something?

    1. It appears from your question you haven’t navigated to the sites linked in this thread. This blog post merely provides a snap-shot of a handful of many revisions by the Board relative to what their state historians presented.

      For example, the SBOE removed Thomas Jefferson from the curricula when studying the Enlightenment and supplanted him with John Calvin. It doesn’t get any more Orwellian than that. See here for details (which were previously linked which is why I asked whether you had perused the available links).

      1. I did peruse the TEKS site. And just now searched each document for a reference to Calvin and was unable to find one. I’m not trying to be contrary or anything, I just like to apply my skepticism to all sides of the story.

        1. I’m not sure what the link limit is to get a comment past moderation so I’ll limit myself to two.

          This is a link to the live-blog of the meeting where such an amendment was both requested, voted upon, and approved. See the times 9:45 and 9:51.

          Here’s a link (PDF) to the World History Standards, which I believe are the subject standards being debated. I found the subject area of this document regarding the enlightenment by doing a search using Jefferson’s name.

          I do not find Jefferson being eradicated but instead added in what I think is the subject section nor do I find Calvin being added. So perhaps some event happened post-this amendment. I will write the TFN who monitors the Texas SBOE regarding this. The U.S. Government document doesn’t have this language either.

          However, I found far more chilling language in this area. I’ve never encountered a history or legal scholar talk about a Judeo-Christian anything which was added to this section, I’ve only seen it used by politicians, TV pundits, and some religionists. I’ve also not discovered scholars arguing for the 10 commandments as part of the legacy of our laws. On the next page they’ve falsely claim that “trial by jury”, “innocent until proven guilty”, and “equality before the law” are rooted in this false “Judeo-Christian” legal artifice they create.

          Searching the U.S. Government PDF file of amendments to answer your question, I found they removed Abraham Lincoln in the section focused on “significant individuals in the field of government and politics” while adding Ronald Reagan. If they’re going to add Reagan one would also need to add LBJ and Clinton as well. How one can justify removing Lincoln is beyond me. The historians would provided the draft the SBOE was amending had left all modern-day presidents out and instead provided teachers with the latitude to decide which modern political leaders should be selected.

          The SBOE also added Moses as a figure to be studied when looking at our founding documents while taking out Thomas Hobbes. They also demand that biblical law be portrayed as part of the major documents informing our founding when it comes to issues of “liberty, rights, and responsibilities of individuals”. Actually biblical law is opposed to both liberty and human rights in relation to their government; I highly doubt that is their intention or the anticipated result.

            1. I discovered my source files linked to above were based on October 2009 amendments. The live blog observations I also linked to above of their 3/10/10 meeting have not yet been published by TEKS. So the source of the Jefferson/Calvin claim is the TFN’s live-blog of the proceedings while we await publication by TEKS.

  20. There are definitely some very disturbing things going on down there. Which is why I have no intentions of moving back after I retire from the military. At least while my kids are still in school. It’s great that there are organizations out there like TFN. I’m just concerned that some of the things I’ve been reading on the blogs are less than the truth. We have to make sure our tactics as rational watchdogs are held to the same standards we hold others to.

    As a side note, your reference to Lincoln being deleted is half right. He was added again with the list of adds in the same sentence.

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