Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why Texas? Why???

Why Texas? Why???

Texas State Board of Education board members want people to know that: America’s laws and government should be based on the Christian Bible. When I read this, I was like, WTF?! You’ve gotta’ be kidding me.

Sadly, it’s no joke. But it gets worse folks. If you’ve been reading the news lately you’ll probably be aware of the fact that they made disreputable changes to the social studies curriculum, changes which will affect five million (that’s right—five frackin' million!) student's educations. How is this? The Texas State Board of Education is the second largest purchaser of K-12 school textbooks (after California). Meaning what Texas requests as the educational curriculum standard usually becomes the country wide standard.

Why should this bother us? Well, first of all it seems the board members are making up a fake history as they go along—and have sent the expert historians, sociologists, scientists, and political science experts packing—which should throw up red flags right there.

The Texas school board’s historic battle against the theory evolution is just one small example of their discomfort with scientific facts. This utter lack of awareness as displayed by the majority of the Texas State Board of Education board members may become the standard, a frightening notion if there was one. Lower the bar a little bit more, why not?

In turn, this disgustingly low standard, more like a standard of retardation, bolsters other state education boards to attempt the same feats of brain aching stupidity, and for other narrow-minded states, like Kansas, it gives them an excuse to continually attempt to ban evolution from their discourse and from their textbooks (see this MSNBC and New York Times articles for more detail on the ongoing anti-evolution battle HERE and HERE).

Meanwhile, in an unrelated yet equally dubious act, the Arizona legislature has passed an overtly racist and discriminatory boarder protection law which is technically out of its jurisdiction since boarder matters are taken up at the national level (unless Arizona can begin to issue or revoke U.S. Visa status they have no authority to deport foreign nationals at the local state level—illegal aliens or not—that’s an issue for Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Consular Affairs—yet that’s not the only thing wrong with the law; but I digress).

Whatever nonsense is going down in the southern areas of the U.S., Texas is leading the charge! Yobie Benjamin at the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

One of the most controversial changes is to deny the slave trade. The Texas Board of Education wants to refer to the slave trade as the "Atlantic triangular trade". What the hell is the "Atlantic triangular trade"? What do you call the millions of African-Americans whose ancestors came here as slaves? Descendants of triangulates?

Likewise, the Texas Freedom Network president Kathy Miller opines, “All of these issues, as serious as they are, are really symptoms of the larger problem — allowing politicians with personal agendas to write our children’s curriculum, rather than teachers and scholars.”

Meanwhile, one of the more self righteous board members, Cynthia Dunbar, has gone on public record as laying out the “Christian nation” vision of American history that the board’s powerful bloc of social conservatives advocates, espousing, “I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book [Holy Bible] and the spirit of the savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses.”

If you’re not flabbergasted by now you should be. Not only is this religious ill-bread ethnocentrism painful to listen to for any well cultured or culturally open minded person, but Dunbar goes one further as she has written in detail on how to apply a “Christian litmus test” to the national education curriculum as to safeguard it from the influence of evil so that America’s public education system won’t become, and I quote, “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” Wow, such a completely baffling, mind boggling, display of stupidity… and this is the guiding influence behind America’s education system. Seriously, how can we not be bothered by this?

Words cannot begin to describe the antipathy I feel for those who threaten my child’s future, and the future of all children, by withholding them a proper education and, not only this, promising to brainwash them into mindless zombies for Christ as well. I’ll teach my child about religion all in due time, I don’t need some crackpot Ms. Braybrook to do it for me. It is my opinion that this Dunbar lady is in need of some serious psychiatric counseling. We literally have a religious radical in our midst influencing other highly devout believers who have sway over the nation’s education system, and as a result our children's futures are at stake. 

Whatever happened to Thomas Jefferson’s ideal wall of the Separation of Church and State? America is not, nor has ever been, a Christian nation—although many Christians have lived there. It’s a nation of freedom, which comes with individual liberties, and in this liberty comes the freedom of religious diversity as well as the freedom from religious theocracy. This is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ."

Anyone who is concerned that America’s education curriculum has taken a turn for the worst need only ask: Why Texas, why?

However, since protesting such a faith-based initiative, and the blinkered unthinking religionists who want to zionize everyone and everything,  seems to me to be like two nearly identical yet opposing castles are all screaming at each other but cannot make out what the other is saying; a futile endeavor if ever I saw it. So instead of protesting I've decided that I shall give my support to the Texas State Educational school board in changing history to whatever we wish it to be, mean, or say. I mean, real tangible facts are subject to our subjective interpretation, right? Therefore anything which we find disagreeable may be bent to our every subjective whim, after all, keen objectivity is for know-all elitist intellectual snobs. Heaven forbid we endure any of that them there erudite thinking (as if we're concerned about a proper education in the first place--don't make us laugh).

For starters, why not simply re-label the Holocaust to be called “A Dreary Day” instead? After this, we can call World War I “that thing we did with planes,” and concordantly WWII would become “that thing we did with planes, bombs, and cigarettes in which all our grandpas died.” The Vietnam War could simply be “The Liberation of Vietnam” because we wouldn’t want to have any anti-American sentiment now, would we? The Bay of Pigs could be renamed “That War Everyone Forgot About.” And when we talk about the nation’s founding fathers we’ll simply claim they were all Christian and ban all their writings which state to the contrary. No more Age of Reason, no more Virginia Statute, just Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, proud Christian founding fathers, because according to the zealot Dunbar, America is a Christian nation--just as surely as my atheist feet be wearing Christian shoes. See? It makes perfect sense.

Capitalism becomes a dirty word and the slave trade becomes the “Atlantic triangular trade,” and while we’re at it, why not have women’s suffrage simply be called “Bossy women who talk too much incident” since we surely don’t want to dismiss Biblical authority on such matters, doubly since the Bible is crystal clear that women are property (chattel) and have no rights unto themselves outside of the marriage or subjugation to a man. If we want a truly Christian nation where the Bible is the authority, we better go all out and not just half ass it, right? God willing, homosexuality would be classified as a "contagious disease which frequently causes natural disasters," and women's cleavage would be deemed "mountain shaking impropriety" literally  too dangerous to gaze upon due to the accursed boob-quakes which would ensue via God's unchecked wrath. 

Expectations to the contrary, we wouldn't want too many modern ideas getting into our heads lest it make us civilized. And what would a God-fearing people desperately holding on to bronze aged myths and mentality do if they found out their God simply didn't exist? God forbid! And goddamn those lying God-haters and blasphemers for besmirching God's good name. Might as well rename all free thinkers and atheists to "Social Communist Satan Worshiping Nihilists," and call it a day.

Frankly speaking, this whole Texas debacle frightens me. It appears, from my vantage point of a critical minded, well educated, non-religious, rational human being that if the Texas State School Board has its way—then we’re headed right towards the sequel to the Dark Ages. But you don’t have to take my word for it, just wait until the new textbooks arrive, indeed, for ways to know in how to grow, just take a look, it’s in a book… reading rainbow. But be forewarned, if you agree to buy Texas published textbooks, you’ll only be growing stupider by the page. And don’t be expecting LeVar Burton to come to your rescue with his books of knowledge, because, well, he’s a Descendant of the Triangulate, not to forget, and Arizona will probably—having confused him for some sort of minority because of the color of his skin—have already shipped him off by the time anyone wises up to what’s going on.


  1. I'm not quite sure what the connection is with Arizona in this piece?

    Also, didn't the Texas BOE institute a standard that teachers are now required to tell their classes that "Separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution?

  2. I didn't say there was a connection other than it being akin to the same trend of stupidity going on in the south.

    It also allowed me to close on the reading rainbow joke I was dying to get in.

    I'm sure they did and have claimed that the idea of state and church separation is nowhere to be found. But that's because most of them quote mine the founding fathers or else reinterpret the Constitution without looking into the history of it's formation, so they habitually assume it means what they want it to mean rather than what it actually says.

    I wouldn't put it past that particular state BOE to push any faith-based initiative. But it's more than annoying... if you ask me.

  3. California is the largest purchaser of textbooks and they're doing something about what is going on in Texas


  4. Thanks for the heads up! And I made the proper corrections.

    Good to know CA is opposing the antics of Texas.

  5. Frightens me too! I just hope that this does not spread to the rest of the nation.

  6. This is the sort of thing that gives rise to the thought, "We've come so far, but we've got so far to go..."

  7. David Upham, an assistant professor of politics at the University of Dallas

    "...Despite the allegations, however, no one has pointed to a particular significant error of fact. My own review of the proposed curriculum did not reveal anything plainly false, and the oft-repeated accusations of outrageous omission are demonstrably false. The board did not excise Thomas Jefferson, downplay constitutional religious freedom, or minimize the role of women and minorities. On the contrary, the curriculum is replete with specific references to Jefferson, religious freedom, the civil rights movement, and the achievements and struggles of women and minorities..."

    I don't believe that you cited a single example either TV. If you did, then feel free to point it out to me.

    Also left out was...

    "Celebrate Freedom Week" suggests, the board determined that the abolition of slavery and the expansion of civil rights for women and minorities should be treated as a fulfillment of the Declaration of Independence. Unlike the liberal readings of history that prevail in academia, this approach affirms that this progress resulted from the renewal of the Founders' principles, and not their rejection."


    You're a bit sketchy as to citing a specific reference by the school board indicating tha they intended to deny slavery existed. Might you provide something more substantive than a left-wing, left-coast newspaper to substantiate this?

    Whatever happened to Thomas Jefferson’s ideal wall of the Separation of Church and State?

    Being that the words "seperation of church and state" do not appear in any foundational document of the US at al, wre was it to begin with.

    I'm sure you were getting around to mentioning that...

    "It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church. Within a year of his inauguration, Jefferson began attending church services in the House of Representatives. Madison followed Jefferson's example, although unlike Jefferson, who rode on horseback to church in the Capitol, Madison came in a coach and four. Worship services in the House--a practice that continued until after the Civil War--were acceptable to Jefferson because they were nondiscriminatory and voluntary. Preachers of every Protestant denomination appeared. (Catholic priests began officiating in 1826.) As early as January 1806 a female evangelist, Dorothy Ripley, delivered a camp meeting-style exhortation in the House to Jefferson, Vice President Aaron Burr, and a "crowded audience." Throughout his administration Jefferson permitted church services in executive branch buildings. The Gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers."


    You must have been a bit busy to overlook such historical facts.

  8. JD-

    I think when anyone talks about liberal and conservative versions of history they've already lost their objectivity.

    History should be presented as objectively as possible and then let the reader decide what stance they take on the issues and how they relate to them.

    The problem with the whole Texas thing is, I think apparent in the examples you cited--they're trying to rewrite the terminology and delegate new meanings to things which already have meanings with no better reason than "Cuz we're Texas." That's just stupid.

    You assume I was only referring to the constitution. Remember, Jefferson lays out in detail his concept for the separation of Church and State in the Virginia Statute.

    And I find nothing wrong with choosing to attend church services. It's when the state funds the services with tax payers dimes is when it becomes illegal. I never said don't go to church, I just don't like "faith based initiatives" which allocate funds to support religious agendas.

    But religionists should be more weary of it than secular folk if only for the reason that if the two came too close together the state would usurp the religious institutions and dictate a national religion. Luckily, our constitution protects religious idiots from having their way--because they haven't thought it through.

  9. they're trying to rewrite the terminology and delegate new meanings to things which already have meanings with no better reason than "Cuz we're Texas." That's just stupid

    I'm sorry. Would you mind citing a specific example so I know where youre coming from on this?

    You assume I was only referring to the constitution. Remember, Jefferson lays out in detail his concept for the separation of Church and State in the Virginia Statute

    Are you referring to the "Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom" that nowhere contains the words "seperation of church a state"? Link

    If not, then what were you referring to?

    It's when the state funds the services with tax payers dimes is when it becomes illegal

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

    Which is exactly what England, and certain Scandanavian coutries had in the way of an official, state-supported religion (Anglican and Lutheran respectively) which is what they did not want in the US. Given the paltry attendence figures in churches in these countries on any given Sunday, might the founding fathers have been on to something?

    The Establishment Clause did not prevent individual states from adopting their own state religions. Massachusetts was quite content to be officially Congregationalist until 1833 for example.

    Why did Jefferson authorize money to be authorized for Christian missionary efforts among Native American tribes?

    Why didnt Jefferson or Madison speak out against the use of federal buildings for Christian religious services but in fact, actively participate in them?

    Why did Congress authorize the printing of Bibles?

    Why did Jefferson have the US Marine Corps Marching Band perform during religious services in the US Capitol?

    Awaiting replies...

  10. History should be presented as objectively as possible and then let the reader decide what stance they take on the issues and how they relate to them

    One of the problems with modern textbooks is that they are...

    1) inaccurate

    2) They contain much more information on pop culture figures than actual, important people from history.

    3) They adopt a hyper-critical view of America and yet no other nation is examined with the Same level of criticism.

    Feel free to confirm any of these claims at your convenience.

    I think apparent in the examples you cited--they're trying to rewrite the terminology and delegate new meanings to things which already have meanings with no better reason than "Cuz we're Texas." That's just stupid

    Again, what examples would you cite? For example, I recall oveR 2 decades ago when colonial history was being taught, the teacher referenced "Atlantic triangular trade". The topic of slavery was neither eliminated nor quickly glossed over. It merely put a finer, more specific point on what was being exchanged across the oceans between Europe and the US.

    You assume I was only referring to the constitution

    No. I'm referring to the foundational documents of the United States such as the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. None of which contain the words "seperation of Church and state".

    Remember, Jefferson lays out in detail his concept for the separation of Church and State in the Virginia Statute

    Are you referring to the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom? It too does not contain the words "seperation of church and state". Link

    The Establishment Clause prevented the federal government from adopting/fundng an official state religion such as the Anglican church in England or Lutheranism in Scandanavian countries.

    Given the paltry church attendence figures in these countries on any given Sunday, might the Founding Fathers have been on to something?

    The establishmnt Clause did not prevent individual states from adopting their own official religions, such as Massachusetts which was officially Congregationalist until 1833.

    It's when the state funds the services with tax payers dimes is when it becomes illegal. I never said don't go to church, I just don't like "faith based initiatives" which allocate funds to support religious agendas

    Apparently this Thomas Jefferson fellow that you cite, along with the person who authored the US Constitution, James Madison, not only did not speak out against using federal buildings for Christian religious services but in fact, actively participated in them.

    Jefferson also OK'ed federal money to support the efforts of Christian missionaries amongst the Native American population.

    Congress also approved the printing of the Aitken Bible in 1782.

    You were saying?

  11. JD-

    The fact that the founding fathers practiced a Christian culture doesn't necessarily mean they held Christian convictions.

    Jefferson, Paine, Franklin observed Christian customs because it was an inbuilt part of their culture and way of life. But they were self confessed deists (they believed in the concept of a supreme being but not the Christian one).

    I'm not denying that Christianity acted as a model of support for the founding of the U.S. (You might be interested in the new book by Jeffrey Bütz called: The Secret Legacy of Jesus which touches on this).

    Indeed, we both know most of those who founded the colonies and the later influx of immigrants were mainly observing Christians in the sense they were born Christian.

    I always try to make a distinction between Christianity as a cultural component, and Christianity as a philosophical component.

    The phrase "separation of church and state" is borrowed from the letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists, in which he referred to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as creating a "wall of separation" between church and state.

    See: http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html

    The phrase was quoted by the United States Supreme Court first in 1878, and then in a series of cases starting in 1947.

    James Madison also frequently invoked the phrase. Wikipedia states:

    ***Madison contended "Because if Religion be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body."[15] Several years later he wrote of "total separation of the church from the state."[16] "Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States," Madison wrote,[17] and he declared, "practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government is essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States."[18]

    In a letter to Edward Livingston Madison further expanded, "We are teaching the world the great truth that Govts. do better without Kings & Nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Govt." [19]

    This attitude is further reflected in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, originally authored by Thomas Jefferson, but championed by Madison, and guaranteeing that no one may be compelled to finance any religion or denomination.***

    End Quote

  12. The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1777) doesn't invoke the phrase because the whole statues is about the separation of church and state. It's in the grammar of the whole piece.

    It's not inaccurate to use the phrase to describe the statute, or reference Jefferson's political philosophies on the subject. When I offer proper quotes I use quotation marks, or other marks to signify a quote from my opinion, so you'll know when I'm speaking literally from figuratively.

    The Atlantic Triangular Trade can apply to any 3 point system of atlantic trading routes.

    It confuses matters when you're speaking about human trafficking and bondage, e.g. slavery and refer to it as a "traingular trade." A car is a vehicle, sure, but so is a helicopter.

    Why use an auxilary term for a word which already has a proper functioning definition. That's my biggest problem with the changes the Texas board made.

    Besides, slavery is a separate thing from tea trade and so forth. Although the Atlantic Triangular Trade also traded in sugar, molasses, tobacco, and hemp. Should we change all drug trafficking references to the "Atlantic Triangular Trade" simply because, historically speaking, they imported and exported hemp? That's why I called the changes stupid. Because they are.

    You find a list of all the changes and can follow the ongoing debate here: http://tfninsider.org/

    Also, I think it says a lot when California won't adopt the textbooks. In case you missed Frank's comment:


    I'm not against making changes in a textbook. But the Texas school board sent the scholars and professors home WITHOUT consulting them about the changes. They only consulted them in a preliminary hearing. That's just insane. That's like merely "consulting" an architect and then deciding to build a house all by yourself. Or consult a music composer and then try to compose your own masterpiece. It's just not going to represent the best possible--even with some helpful advice.

    Such a hasty decision seems to lack discretion, is unwise, and neglects the fact that it's the students educations which are in contention, not whether or not you call a fried potatoes french fries or chips.

    You think a school board would show better judgment. How many things have to fail for a ONE group to dictate what the rest of the world learns? Or at least a large majority of the country?

    And I agree with you that certain textbooks contain inaccuracies. But you don't send the experts home and then try to correct them without the proper information. Because that is stupid.


Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist