Texas Education: Creationism & Theocracy

We’ve been reporting on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) controversy about US history almost as much as their battles about evolution and creationism. See: Creationist American History in Texas Schools. The history controversy is now starting to dominate the education news in Texas.

In the Austin American-Statesman we read Christianity’s role in history of U.S. at issue. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

When the State Board of Education meets this week to tackle revisions to the social studies curriculum in Texas public schools, some of the most contentious public debate is likely to center on recommendations by two men who want more emphasis on the role of Christianity in how the nation was formed.

You will notice that the same people on the SBOE and the same “thinking” that dominated the creationism debates are also involved in the history controversy. Let’s read on:

The ideas submitted by well-known Christian conservatives David Barton and the Rev. Peter Marshall could influence how social studies is taught in Texas for the next decade. The board’s final decision on the social studies curriculum is expected in March.

Barton and Marshall. Of all the possible advisers in the US, the creationist Board chose them. See: Texas Education War: Phase Two. We continue:

Barton and Marshall were among six reviewers chosen by the board to make suggestions for changing the curriculum. Their key recommendations for revision include more emphasis on documents from early America like the Mayflower Compact of 1620, written by Christian pilgrims who wanted religious freedom, or adding the Bible to sources that influenced the creation of significant documents when America was founded.

The problem with that kind of theocratic revisionism is that the ideas they’re pushing are false. We’ve discussed the Mayflower Compact and its negligible influence on the American Revolution here, and we’ll repeat just a bit of what we said:

The Plymouth settlers were bible communists, at least at first, and those who followed their religious and political traditions ended up hanging witches in Salem. You think they’re our founders, rev? In some cases they may be our ancestors — but founders? No, sorry. See: Salem and Philadelphia: A Tale of Two Cities.

Here’s more from the Austin American-Statesman:

Barton, a Texas-based GOP activist and nationally known speaker, and Marshall, a traveling evangelist whose father was a U.S. Senate chaplain in the 1940s, are aligned with American University law and history professor Daniel Dreisbach — one of four academics on the review panel — in the belief that America was intended to be a “Christian nation” with no separation between church and state.

[…]

Last summer, Marshall told The Wall Street Journal, “We’re in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America, and the record of American history is right at the heart of it.”

Board member Don McLeroy said the reviewers were chosen based on board members’ “life experience.”

We can imagine what these “life experience” historians will come up with. Here’s your Curmudgeon’s guess about their recommended textbook treatment for the founding of America:

It was shortly after Creation Week. Noah’s Ark — with sails made from the Shroud of Turin and a hull carved from the True Cross — was captained by Christopher Columbus. The ship carried a precious cargo consisting of pilgrims, the Ten Commandments and the Holy Grail. Guided by the King James Bible, Columbus landed on Plymouth Rock, whereupon the pilgrims drafted the Constitution to create a shining city on hill where they (and only they) would rule, for the purpose of converting the heathen unbelievers before the End Times, which are fast approaching.

You disagree? How do you know — were you there?

Anyway, this is a long article in the Austin American-Statesman, with a great deal of information about Marshall, Barton and their opinions. You should bookmark it and use it for reference as this issue progresses. The article concludes by bringing things up to date:

Each reviewer drafted recommendations and sent them to the Texas Education Agency. The agency then sent those drafts to writing groups composed of teachers and community members who have been revising the curriculum standards; their revised draft of the standards will be presented at the board’s meeting this week.

Things are heating up in Texas. Again.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “Texas Education: Creationism & Theocracy

  1. “You disagree? How do you know — w[h]ere you there?”

    I don’t have to have been there, I talk to the Great Ogo Pogo who was there and tells me all.

    If you want answers from the GOP, please come stare at my crystal balls, and take a toke off the hookah. All will be revealed.

    (should be ‘were’ not ‘where’)

  2. Thanks, GaryB. Typo’s fixed now.

  3. OMG! Communists!? Here!?

  4. This is the latest battle of the ongoing war by the religious right to destroy our educational systems; reduce funding and make everything harder to do, get control of the content so they hear only what we say, drive the monied kids to private institutions (no question of content control there!).
    The California Proposition 13 tax revolt broke what was arguably the finest educational system in the nation, the Oregon Measure 5 property tax limitation… these were wryly thought out attacks on the (property fax funded) educational systems of these states… And then there is the Texas approach.