One of the most contentious issues in the debate over what to include in Texas’ social studies textbooks surrounds the separation of church and state. The far-right members of the State Board of Education (SBOE) argue that America is a Christian nation and separation of church and state is a myth. In March, a majority of SBOE members voted “against requiring high school American government students to learn that the nation’s Founders barred government from favoring or disfavoring one religion over all others.”
At the opening of yesterday’s session — where the board gave final approval to the social studies standards — far-right member Cynthia Dunbar gave the invocation, in which she used the prayer to pusher her anti-church-state separation agenda:
Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia, or the charter of New England or the Charter of Massachusetts Bay, or the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the same objective is present: a Christian land governed by Christian principles. 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 we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion.
Additionally, during a session this past week that included debate and comment from members of the public, a man stood up and said, “I have to tell you: Islam is coming, and Islam brings death. So I say, ‘Repent America, repent.’” CNN said that Lawrence Allen, the one Muslim member of the board, called the man out for his “insulting” comments, but not one of the other 14 members complained. Watch it:
A May 4-12 poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the TFN Education Fund found that “68 percent of likely Texas voters agree that church-state separation is a key principle of the Constitution.” That number included “59 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of political independents believing it is a key principle.”