Monday, May 17, 2010

Religious Right declares war on Thomas Jefferson

It had to happen eventually: religious conservatives who want to promote government involvement in Christianity would want to re-write history to edit out those Founding Fathers who don't fit their contention that the US was founded as a "Christian nation". Of course they would start with Thomas Jefferson - author of the Declaration of Independence, deist, and writer of a certain inconvenient letter to a church group in Connecticut.

According to American Atheists, a Religious Right faction on the Texas Board of Education wants to adopt standards for history textbooks that would downplay the role of the Enlightenment in our country's early development - including figures such as Jefferson - and focus more on the "positive contributions" of religion by spotlighting people such as John Calvin.

And according to a story in the Dallas Morning News, a member of the Board wants to take direct aim at the doctrine of the separation of church and state:
AUSTIN – A leading social conservative on the State Board of Education will push for further doubt to be cast on separation of church and state when the board goes back to work on proposed curriculum standards for social studies next week. . . .

The GOP-dominated board shot down an earlier attempt by Democrats to have high school students study the reasons the Founding Fathers barred the government from promoting any religion.

McLeroy now wants to include a requirement that eighth-grade history students study the issue from a different perspective.

Under his proposal, students would "contrast the Founders' intent relative to the wording of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause, with the popular term 'Separation of church and state.' "

The language reflects the opposition of social and religious conservatives to the legal doctrine of separation of church and state, which has been upheld multiple times by the U.S. Supreme Court, including one far-reaching decision that outlawed school-sponsored prayer.

McLeroy and other board members contend that separation of church and state was established in the law only by activist judges and not by the Constitution or Bill of Rights.
Who's next? James Madison?

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