It barely made the headlines, but something very bad for the Country happened in Texas a couple weeks ago. Texas is the second largest consumer of high school text books in the Country. That means that they can have extraordinary influence not only over Texas students but also other school systems because of the availability of the text books being printed (or not being printed). Years ago, a coalition of conservative religious extremists were elected to the Texas State Board of Education and immediately began to impose a policy of “re-education” of Texas High School students to what they consider the “genuine” history of the United States. That history, according to conservative religious nuts, is that our Country was founded as a “Christian Nation” and that one essential role of Government was to protect the role of religion in government. It is as ironic as it is disturbing that the real “reeducation camps” are being built by Conservatives.
Those of us who are literate and well-educated on the evolution of the Constitution understand that the principles of the Enlightenment and the experience of persecution by organized religions was the guiding influence of the Founding Fathers. Washington assiduously avoided invoking any reference to a “Christian God” and always referred to the “Grand Architect”. Some of the Founding Fathers were actually ministers in Christian denominations and they refused to incorporate Christian dogma into the Constitution. The Constitutional principles of the separation of church and state were based on Virginia law written principally by Thomas Jefferson, who although personally a Christian believer expressed a constant animus against organized religion. It was Jefferson also who wrote extensively on the importance of unrestricted access to public education as an essential requirement of any Democracy.
No wonder the State of Texas School Board refused to approve any history text book mentioning the contributions of Thomas Jefferson in founding our country!
It is an inescapable fact that conservatives use Christian dogma to justify their policies and existence. They seek to take power and create the Christian equivalent of an Islamic Republic – to turn our country into a place where laws enforce Christian doctrine. A few weeks ago a Republican Congressman told a Tea Bagger Rally that they should march on Washington D.C., shut it down and take over the government! Some people dismissed his comments as rhetorical flourish, but the treasonous message was obvious, revealing an emerging tolerance for the thought of a conservative coup. Would advocating taking over the government by force or Secession (as advocated by the Governor of Texas) be tolerated a 20 years ago? What will happen in the next 20 years if our children are being taught such a twisted version of our history?