Jesus prayer opens Texas textbook meeting

By David Waters Friday’s meeting of the Texas Board of Education, charged with revising the state’s social studies curriculum, began … Continued

By David Waters

Friday’s meeting of the Texas Board of Education, charged with revising the state’s social studies curriculum, began with a Christian prayer on behalf of “a Christian land governed by Christian principles,” a prayer made “in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

“I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the Spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses,” board member Cynthia Dunbar said.

“I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it… “I like to believe that we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion and as long as we do so no great harm can come to our country.”

The board is expected today to approve final revisions in the statewide curriculum, amending textbook standards to correct what conservative board members such as Dunbar view as hostility toward Christianity and traditional values.

And of course they are doing this by being as hostile as possible toward non-Christian and yet entirely American values.

Dunbar, a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School, had made all of her personal beliefs clear, including her belief (inaccurate as it might be) that the Founding Fathers didn’t intend to separate church and state, but rather did intend to promote religion.

The board’s evangelical Christian majority has approved a number of her revisions, which included cutting Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence and promoter of the phrase “wall of separation between church and state”), and replacing him with religious figures such as St.Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. (Friday, the board agreed without objection to return Jefferson to the curriculum. But the board struck James Madison 8-7.)

Dunbar, of course, is entitled to her beliefs and to preach them publicly. No doubt she believes that by foisting her conservative evangelical beliefs on the state’s public schools, she is defiantly and courageously standing up for her convictions and defending her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

But as a member of a government-appointed board charged with setting learning standards for all Texas school children — Christians and non-Christians alike — Dunbar is disrespecting the Constitution, the founders very clear intent to keep government and religion separate, and ultimately all people of faith (including Jesus) who believe the government has no business trying to be the church.

When government bodies feel entitled to promote sectarian prayers like Dunbar’s, religious freedom in America doesn’t have a prayer.

(Follow the Texas Freedom Network’s live-blogging of the meeting.)

UPDATE: The board agreed to reinstate Oscar Romero to the world history standards. That reverses the board’s March vote to remove the martyred Salvadoran Catholic bishop in March because conservative evangelical board members said they didn’t know who he was.

UPDATE: The board approved 11-3 a lengthy rewrite of the section of the curriculum dealing with church-state separation. The standard will read: “Examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America and guaranteed it free exercise by saying that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and compare and contrast this to the phrase ‘separation of church and state’.”

UPDATE: Late Friday afternoon, the board voted 9-5 to adopt the high school social studies standards. All Republicans voted yes (except one who was absent), and all Democrats voted no.

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  • yomamasallama

    This is absolutely shameful. I’ve heard some pretty ridiculous things from all sides of the spectrum, but this is just beyond me.I wish conservatives would stop touting that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values. Please… America was born out of ideas from the Enlightenment, a movement that was backlashing against religion. Our Declaration of Independence borrows entire phrases from the social contract thinker, John Locke, a rationalist through and through. We are not really a Christian country, and never have been.

  • dre7861

    “And of course they are doing this by being as hostile as possible toward non-Christian and yet entirely American values.”Not to mention science, history and the plain old truth. Imagine trying to get the term “Slave Trade” rebranded into “Atlantic Triangulation Trade.”

  • godwithfire55

    This is one of the main reasons I am no longer a Republican.Because the

  • DIMMY

    Hey Cynthia…there is no Santa Clause, quit trying to “ram it down our throats”. I heard that phrase somewhere else, remember. STHU

  • NO-bama

    This is why I”m no longer a Democrat; The Democrat Party “LEFT” me!

  • denise4925

    No-Bama, you were never a Democrat.Regarding the article, I’m astounded. All I can say is that I’m glad I don’t have any children in the Texas Public School system. No wonder Texas ranks -0.44 in education on a 24 point scale.

  • koolkat_1960

    If the troll NO-Bama ever was a Democrat, he was a Democrat in the Strom Thurmond-David Duke-Richard Shelby-Trent Lott-George Wallace mode. In other words, good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • racerdoc

    Someone should take this BOard to Court. This is a direct violation between church and state.And where do these people get off spewing the DEMS hate the constitution and are trying to rewrite the Constitution when this one lady is out there saying “It is our belief that the Founding Fathers REALLY MEANT TO SAY THAT THIS IS A CHRISTIAN NATION>Pot calling kettle black

  • cnclarke820

    as a non christian mother with a child in texas schools i am really thinking of pulling him and home schooling him and not enrolling my other child.

  • dixierickie

    Given our lack of success in stemming the oil leak, fixing the economy, solving immigration, finding intelligent and honest politicians, and stopping the flow of illegal drugs; a little prayer can’t hurt.

  • benivere

    I find this line of action to be dangerous and alarming. Thomas Jefferson is being removed because he was a strong supporter of separation of church and state. What those who wish to remove him apparently fail to appreciate is that without the voice of Jefferson during the crucial years leading up to revolution, we may never have rebelled against Britian, resulting in our not having the very freedoms that allow such radical thinking as Dunbar wishes to make policy.Revisionist history is a very dangerous path. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were both expert revisionists. One of the cherished values we enjoy is a more open and free flow of information, however that continues to be perverted. While I appreciate that the religious-right wish to find ways to solve our country’s ills, resorting to altering facts only serves to make the ills worse in the long term.The policies of the Soviet Union won’t help make our country stronger…

  • Jutti

    Rewriting history? This is scary! While some of the founding fathers were religious, they definitely wanted separation of church and state so citizens could be free to worship as they believed. If you look at European history at the time of the founding of our country you will see that a number of the countries had a “state” religion. Other religions were banned and the people who did not belong to the state religion were persecuted.

  • Alferd

    Sometimes a budget crisis is a good thing. Hopefully, they will be unable to buy these new textbooks untill after the new board is sworn in next year.

  • thebobbob

    “I believe no one ……””I believe the entire Bill of Rights…””I like to believe that ….”Fact: The founding fathers ripped half the superstitious garbage out of the bible and formally declared, in Congressional approved documents, that the United States of America was NOT a Christian Nation.Believe what you want, it doesn’t make it true