Christian right aims to change history lessons in Texas schools
By CHRIS MCGREAL - GUARDIAN.CO.UK
Added: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 23:00:00 UTC
Thanks to PJG for the link.
The Christian right is making a fresh push to force religion onto the school curriculum in Texas with the state's education board about to consider recommendations that children be taught that there would be no United States if it had not been for God.
Members of a panel of experts appointed by the board to revise the state's history curriculum, who include a Christian fundamentalist preacher who says he is fighting a war for America's moral soul, want lessons to emphasise the part played by Christianity in the founding of the US and that religion is a civic virtue.
Opponents have decried the move as an attempt to insert religious teachings in to the classroom by stealth, similar to the Christian right's partially successful attempt to limit the teaching of evolution in biology lessons in Texas.
One of the panel, David Barton, founder of a Christian heritage group called WallBuilders, argues that the curriculum should reflect the fact that the US Constitution was written with God in mind including that "there is a fixed moral law derived from God and nature", that "there is a creator" and "government exists primarily to protect God-given rights to every individual".
Barton says children should be taught that Christianity is the key to "American exceptionalism" because the structure of its democratic system is a recognition that human beings are fallible, and that religion is at the heart of being a virtuous citizen.
Another of the experts is Reverend Peter Marshall, who heads his own Christian ministry and preaches that Hurricane Katrina and defeat in the Vietnam war were God's punishment for sexual promiscuity and tolerance of homosexuals. Marshall recommended that children be taught about the "motivational role" of the Bible and Christianity in establishing the original colonies that later became the US.
"In light of the overwhelming historical evidence of the influence of the Christian faith in the founding of America, it is simply not up to acceptable academic standards that throughout the social studies (curriculum standards) I could only find one reference to the role of religion in America's past," Marshall wrote in his submission.
Marshall later told the Wall Street Journal that the struggle over the history curriculum is part of a wider battle. "We're in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America, and the record of American history is right at the heart of it," he said.
Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, which describes itself as a "counter to the religious right", called the recommendations "troubling".
"I don't think anyone disputes that faith played a role in our history. But it's a stretch to say that it played the role described by David Barton and Peter Marshall. They're absurdly unqualified to be considered experts. It's a very deceptive and devious way to distort the curriculum in our public schools," he said.
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