Monday, January 11, 2010

The Texas Board Of Education and Efforts to Rewrite History.

From The Austin-American Statesman, another story on the struggle taking place on the Texas Board of Education to shape history text books. This is a national story because as Texas school books go, so go those in the rest of the nation. Publishers tend to honor Texas requirements because the state is the second largest buyer of school books after California, though the latter is not buying books this year.

The contention by some board members is that the US is a Christian nation and that the bible and Christian ideology should receiver greater emphasis in the teaching of our history. While most agree that Christianity has indeed played a great role in shaping society - and should be addressed - several board members wish the inclusion to be promotion of Christian values rather than critical approaches to religion.

From the story:

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. If their changes are accepted, students who now receive a more generic overview of religious freedom and its importance in the country's founding would be taught that the nation's founders wanted to shape America based on biblical principles.

Those ideas resonate with many Christians, history and religion professors say, but they concern many others.

"I'm an evangelical Christian, and I think David Barton and Peter Marshall are completely out to lunch," said John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, a Christian institution. "They are not experts on social studies and history. Neither of them are trained in history. They are preachers who use the past and history as a means of promoting a political agenda in the present."

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.

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