The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Texas Board of Education Pushes Religious Ideology in Social Studies Classes

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 9, 2009

I’ve made numerous posts here about the Texas Board of Education pushing a creationist agenda in regards to science classes & textbooks, but the agenda of the religious fundamentalists in Texas is much broader than that.

I recently received the following press release from the American Humanist Association regarding an attempt by the conservative wing of the Texas BoEd to use social studies classes & textbooks in Texas to push their religious agenda. It seems that BoEd member Don McLeroy is behind the push to include what are called the “biblical motivations” of the U.S. founders in the Texas social studies curriculum.  This is code for pushing fundamentalist Christianity, folks, pure and simple.

The AHA press elaborates…

The American Humanist Association responded today to a letter from Texas State Board of Education Member Don McLeroy, arguing that social studies classes should not aim to promote religion and should accurately portray the secular nature of the United States government. McLeroy had responded to an open letter the American Humanist Association sent to the Texas State Board of Education last Thursday, prompted by reports the Board had been advised to include the “biblical motivations” of the founders in the state’s new social studies curriculum. In McLeroy’s e-mail to the American Humanist Association, he stated he disagreed with the group and cited an essay he wrote in 2002 titled “The Gift of Medieval Christendom to the World.” (The letter sent to the Texas State School Board of Education can be found here: http://www.americanhumanist.org/news/details/2009-07-humanists- say-to-texas-state-board-of-education-dont-mess-with-texas, and McLeroy’s response can be found here:
http://www.americanhumanist.org/2009/McLeroy_Letter)

The main problem with McLeroy’s push to include a specific religious slant to social studies courses in Texas is outlined as follows:

“Although religion certainly has played a role in our nation’s history that could be taught in public schools, any social studies curriculum that covers religion should supply the facts in an unbiased, objective way—promotion of Christianity over other faiths isn’t allowed,” continued Bhaerman. “To do so not only violates the separation of church and state, but it is disrespectful of the millions of public school children who don’t subscribe to the Christian faith.”

In his promotion of his religious & ideological agenda, McLeroy has not only butchered science but now is distorting history & basic civics…

McLeroy has been a vocal proponent of teaching about the influence of the bible in classrooms, arguing on an episode of Fox and Friends that the Declaration of Independence is based on biblical principles and that the Constitution mandates the separation of powers in recognition that people are sinners.

To read more about McLeroy’s stupid claims regarding the founding of the U.S. government, here’s a more detailed analysis of his claims along with corrections to his errors.

Fortunately, the AHA has started a petition drive to put pressure on the rest of the Texas BoEd in an effort to head off the misguided attempt to push a narrow religious view in Texas social studies classes & textbooks.  If you’re interested, read and sign their petition, and pass it on to others.

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