A War is Brewing down in Texas

November 11, 2009

The battle lines are forming in what is shaping up to be the battle for children’s futures in The Lone Star State. On one side are the demonic forces of reason and science, daring to put forth the outlandish claims that the world is billions of years old, that comprehensive sex education is more effective than abstinence only, and that religion should not be taught in public schools. On the other are the crusaders of Christian Fundamentalism, who believe that men rode dinosaurs less than 6000 years ago, that abstinence is the only moral choice until marriage, and that the only way to ensure that children grow up with a firm sense of right and wrong is to bring God into their life in schools.

 

Now, if this were simply a difference of beliefs, it would not be such a hot topic down south. However, advocates of fundamentalist views now control 7 of the 15 seats on the Texas Board of Education, putting them only 1 seat away from majority control of the board and dangerously close to the ability to single-handedly implement their religious beliefs as policy in Texas’ public schools. Kathy Miller, President of Texas Freedom Network gave a speech at a gathering of Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington on Monday, November 9 th , attended by OPP, in which she outlined this frightening reality.

 

Noting that the Texas Board of Education makes all content decisions from K-12 in the state, Miller discussed how much the fundamentalist agenda has already begun to pervade the curriculum. She mentioned how a math textbook was rejected because it forced students to memorize multiplication tables. On more contentious issues, such as sex education, where 96% of Texas schools teach abstinence only or nothing, Miller noted, “What is being sought is not a prevention of teen pregnancy, but rather the advancement of a particular religious point of view that abstinence is the only morally pure decision until marriage.” She went on to describe how many health classes included curriculum where students were encouraged to write reasons why they thought it was important to “save themselves” for marriage. In some classes, “good dating” practices were discussed, which included asking a date about their relationship with God.

 

This perversion of education extends into other realms as well. The scientific method is being thrown out in favor of “neutrality” on Creationism, espousing the views of fundamentalists that science is only good as long as it agrees with scripture. In the realm of social studies, curriculum is organized along more “traditional” teachings of American history. Ms. Miller summed it up as, “more Revolution, less civil rights.” Here, the emphasis is on the founding fathers and our “Christian nation.”

 

This would be easily dismissible if it were not occurring in taxpayer funded schools. As Miller puts it, “public education is being dragged through the culture wars in Texas.” She is absolutely right, and what is happening right now in Texas is an affront to the separation of church and state in America.

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