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Proposed Texas Textbooks Channel David Barton, Attribute US Government To Moses

Four years ago, the Texas State Board of Education made national headlines when it worked with Religious Right activists like David Barton to create a set of new textbook standards that played up the role of Christianity in the nation’s founding and played down the role of slavery in the Civil War, among other questionable changes.

According to our friends at the Texas Freedom Network , a new set of social studies textbooks up for approval from the state school board contain many flaws that “reflect the ideological beliefs of politicians on the state board rather than sound scholarship and factual history.”

TFN convened a panel of historians to review proposed textbooks and found that a number of the board’s faulty claims had been absorbed into proposed textbooks. For instance, a number of books followed the board’s advice in making vague claims about Moses as a direct influence on the framers of the Constitution — a claim straight out of David Barton’s pseudo-scholarship.

The material presented in these textbooks on this issue seems to have been determined more by political concerns than considerations of good scholarship. On the one hand, the decisions of these textbooks seem to have been strongly influenced by the suggestions and requirements of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). For instance, that the Texas SBOE suggested in the 2009-2010 debate over curriculum standards that Moses influenced the writing of the nation’s founding documents and that several textbooks mention Moses’ influence on the Founders seems to be no coincidence. On the other hand, the frequently vague nature of the textbooks’ statements about the influence of Moses and other religious ideas and figures on the Founders seems to indicate that the publishers did not want to be held accountable by scholars are those critical of SBOE’s standards. Unfortunately, the result of this at once overly controversial and overly careful strategy is the failure to provide students with an understanding of the influence of religion on our Founders that rests on sound scholarship and captures the diversity of the Founders’ views. These textbooks too often settle for giving students vague impressions about the Founders and religion while denying them the crucial information necessary to evaluate these claims. The SBOE and these textbooks have collaborated to make students’’ knowledge of American history a casualty of the culture wars.

Other concerns that TFN’s reviewers found in the textbooks include:

  • Some textbooks greatly exaggerate religious influences on the American founding, with some going so far as to suggest without substantiation that Moses was a major influence, that “the roots of democratic government” can be found in the Old Testament, and that “the biblical idea of a covenant … contributed to our constitutional structure.”
  • While the textbooks largely make clear that slavery was the central cause of the Civil War, some give nods to neo-Confederate arguments first promoted after the war that “states’ rights” was the driving issue. Some also downplay the serious hardships faced by African Americans during segregation.
  • Some textbooks reinforce negative stereotypes of Islam as a violent religion spread exclusively by conquest. One tells students, inaccurately, that “the spread of international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism,” ignoring the numerous examples of terrorism not related to Islam at all.
  • Some textbooks suffer from an incomplete and at times inaccurate coverage of religions other than Christianity. For example, one textbook teaches students, inaccurately, that all Hindus are vegetarians. On other hand, coverage of key Christian concepts and historical events are lacking in a few textbooks, often apparently due to the presumption that all students are Christians and already familiar with that information.
  • Reflecting concerns already noted about the curriculum standards by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a number of textbooks present an uncritical celebration of the free enterprise system. They downplay or even ignore legitimate problems in capitalism and the role government played in the growth of the American economy of the 1800s.
  • A number of U.S. History textbooks suffer from a general lack of attention to the experiences of Native American peoples and cultures and sometimes include biased or misleading information.
    One textbook includes a biased even offensive treatment critical of affirmative action, including cartoons that jokingly suggest space aliens would qualify.
  • Most textbooks offer scant coverage of the movement for LGBT equality, one of the salient civil rights struggles of the last half-century. One publisher links the gay rights movement of the late 1960s to society “spinning out of control.”

'Why Won't They Use The Oval Office?' Glenn Beck Creates A New Conspiracy Theory

Glenn Beck is upset that when President Obama delivered his remarks laying out his plans for confronting ISIS last night, he did not do so from the Oval Office, suggesting that this is all part of Obama's effort to fundamentally transform the nation by erasing America's image of what the presidency represents.

"There's a problem with the Oval Office and this president," Beck said. "There's something wrong there."

Beck is mystified as to why Obama refused to deliver his remarks while seated behind the Resolute Desk and concluded that the only logical explanation is that it is all part of an intentional effort to carry out "a reset of the president of the United States."

"It is part of the fundamental transformation," he said. "This guy's in for eight years, not speaking [from the Oval Office]. He has erased eight years of what that office means. You know, you build up a relationship with the image and he's changing that image. He's changing the image of the United States, he's changing the image of the president of the United States, he's changing the image of what a president looks like - I'm not talking about color, I'm talking about what he looks like, what the optics are. They're so fascinated with optics. Why won't they use the Oval Office? Something's not right":

American Religious Right Leaders Join Moscow Event, May Not Be Able To Avoid Foreign Policy

This week, a number of American Religious Right activists are participating an in international forum on “large families and the future of mankind,” which is organized and funded by a number of close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and kicked off its session at the Kremlin yesterday with the reading of a personal message from Putin himself.

Among the Americans speaking at the forum, according to a preliminary schedule, are the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute’s Austin Ruse, Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater and representatives from Personhood USA, the Home School Legal Defense Association and the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Janice Shaw Crouse is also scheduled to attend, although possibly no longer as a representative of Concerned Women for America, a group critical of the Moscow conference with which she seems to have parted ways.

The conference was originally organized under the name of the Illinois-based World Congress of Families, but after Russia invaded Ukraine, the group began to lose support from its American allies and announced that it had “suspended planning” on the event, noting that it “takes no position on foreign affairs, except as they affect the natural family.”

In reality, very little but the official name of the conference seems to have changed. World Congress of Families officials Don Feder and Larry Jacobs are attending in their personal capacities, and insist that their group is not “financially sponsoring” the event and would not have its name attached to it. But WCF’s sponsorship was always nominal — the group has a very small budget of its own and instead acts as an agent for bringing together better-funded activists and organizations. Even before WCF dropped its official involvement, it had given credit to a number of Russian allies for funding the conference.

Although the focus of the conference is the promotion of “large families” (and with it the resistance to LGBT equality and abortion rights), it may be impossible for attendees to ignore the foreign policy implications of the event.

As we have noted, Putin played up the supposed dangers of LGBT rights in his efforts to prevent Ukraine from joining the EU — a geopolitical ploy that had dangerous consequences for the LGBT communities in Russian and Ukraine.

Constantin Malofeev, the oligarch who helped to organize and fund the conference this week, brought this up in his speech to the event yesterday, presenting the “propagation of homosexuality and gay parades” as a defining factor in the battle over Ukraine:

In Ukraine, which is our fraternal country, association with European Union was not signed last year because, in this case, the Ukrainians learned that they had to allow propagation of homosexuality and gay parades. So, the new regime in Ukraine, the first thing they did was to allow a gay parade in Kiev. So we are defending our position. We are protecting fathers, mothers and children.

He also attacked the United States for including Yelena Mizulina, the force behind many of Russia’s harsh new anti-gay laws, on its economic sanctions list. (Putin ally Vladimir Yakunin, who along with his wife Natalia also spoke at and helped fund the conference, is another U.S. sanctions target).

And if we are part of the sanctions for Ukraine. But Madam Mizulina was included in the sanctions as one of the first, and this is just because she defends the family values.

And as Richard Bartholomew points out, today’s schedule includes a panel titled “Family Policy in Ukraine: Conclusions and Warnings for Russia.”

An ever-present theme at the first day of the conference was the idea of Russia as a bulwark protecting the world against the U.S. and Europe’s encroaching liberalism. The Moscow Times writes that the theme came up in both Yakunin and Mizulina’s remarks:

In choosing conservative values, Russia represents "the final hope" for the modern world, which has been corrupted by the Western debauchery of individualism, consumerism and globalization, participants of a Moscow forum agreed Wednesday.

Yakunin, whose wife Natalya moderated the proceedings, attended the forum, taking to the stage to talk about Russia's departure from the Western model of development that, according to him, does not lead to either material or spiritual well-being.

Mizulina, who chairs the Duma's committee on family, women and children's issues and has advocated a law requiring women to get their husband's permission in order to have an abortion, lashed out at the West.

"I am sure that in contemporary Europe it would not be possible to hold a forum like this," Mizulina told the audience after reading a welcome note from State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin.

"Even if they are held there, they are not hosted at the Kremlin, like in Russia, but somewhere on the outskirts," she said.

Jerry Boykin Is 'Being Persecuted, Literally' For Being A Benghazi Conspiracy Theorist

Family Research Council executive vice president Jerry Boykin said in an interview on “Washington Watch” yesterday that people like himself who believe in discredited conspiracy theories surrounding the 2012 Benghazi attacks are facing “persecution” because no one believes them and dares to think there are political motivations behind their accusations.

“The plight of not only the young service men and women in trying to ensure that their government is going to come and get them, but there is a plight of persecution today of those of us who want to stand up and demand that there be accountability on this,” he told FRC president Tony Perkins. “They’re persecuting us, the leftist media is coming out with all kinds of accusations about what our intent is.”

“We’re being hammered by the media now, being persecuted, literally, by the media as being on a witch hunt and being people that are not willing to accept the truth that has already come out. The truth hasn’t come out yet.”

Boykin insisted that no one has investigated the Benghazi attack yet…even though, as Media Matters notes, the House Intelligence Committee, along with “the State Department's independent Accountability Review Board (ARB), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Armed Services Committee” have all “repeatedly debunked right-wing Benghazi myths that have persisted since the attacks, including the falsehood that a ‘stand down’ order was given to troops stationed in Tripoli and the myth that the administration lied about the attacks having been caused by an anti-Islam YouTube video.”

But who cares what four — including two GOP-led — panels found, because Boykin knows the truth and won’t rest until investigators agree with him.

He also made the extraordinary claim that his goal in promoting Benghazi conspiracy theories “is not to go after Hillary or the president.”

President Glenn Beck Fixes The V.A. In An Hour

There is something genuinely fascinating about watching Glenn Beck play make-believe as he explains the simple ways in which he would solve the world's problems were he the President of the United States.

He did it again on his television program last night where he began by claiming that President Obama does not respect or love the military or veterans and then ended up acting out just how President Beck would have solved the problems with the Veteran's Administration in an hour by simply firing a bunch of people.

Beck literally stood in the middle of his staff and acted out a scenario in which he called his subordinates to the carpet in the Oval Office, demanding accountability for failings at the V.A. and then summarily fired them.

"I want your ass in my office Thursday at noon," make-believe President Beck told pretend Secretary of the V.A. Stu Burguiere. "I want answers. This stops now!"

Fake President Beck then demanded to know the names of any veterans who may have died while awaiting treatment - and while the Inspector General's report could find no conclusive evidence that that actually happened, Fake President Beck lowered the hammer nonetheless.

"You get your ass out!" Fake President Beck heroically declared. "You're fired. You're done."

"You do that one day for an hour," Beck said, "you fix the V.A.":

Rep. Chris Smith Claims Obama Ignores Religious Persecution Overseas, Only Cares About 'The LGBT'

Yesterday on “Washington Watch,” the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said that the violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East is closely connected to “the religious intolerance that is growing here at home” under the Obama administration.

His guest, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., agreed with his assessment of Obama’s purported “animus towards promoting religious freedom.”

The congressman alleged that the Obama administration is ignoring anti-Christian persecution because White House officials are either nonreligious or hostile to religion. According to Smith, they only care about “the LGBT, the abortion that is being promoted so aggressively overseas.”

No, Ted Cruz, The #GetMoneyOut Amendment Wouldn't Censor SNL

Cross-posted from PFAW's blog.

Sen. Ted Cruz has been known to make some pretty outlandish comments about the Democracy for All Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment being debated in the Senate which would overturn decisions like Citizens United, but his latest may take the cake. “Lorne Michaels [of Saturday Night Live] could be put in jail under this amendment for making fun of any politician,” Sen. Ted Cruz claimed on the floor of the Senate this week.

Luckily, a number of more grounded voices were able to set the record straight about Cruz’s wild and inaccurate remark. Last night, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said:

I think [Cruz] is wrong… This amendment is simply about restoring the old status quo about campaign contributions… I think his point…really has very little, if anything, to do with the constitutional amendment that the Senate is debating.

Amendment sponsor Sen. Tom Udall clarified that “[n]othing in the amendment would permit the arrest of anyone for engaging in political speech,” and pointed out that the proposal intends to bring the country’s campaign finance rules back to what they were in 1975, when Saturday Night Live began.

Other responders were a little more fiery, including former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, who on Monday published an op-ed with Sen. Udall in support of the Democracy for All Amendment. Simpson called Cruz’s remarks about Saturday Night Live “outrageous,” and urged Sen. Cruz to “read the damn amendment. That would be a wonderful thing.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders also joined the conversation on The Ed Show last night, noting that Sen. Cruz “sounds like he is on Saturday Night Live. It’s a very funny skit.” He pointed out that “Citizens United is a little over four years old; Saturday Night Live has been on the air for decades. And I don’t recall too many people on Saturday Night Live going to jail for making fun of politicians.” Sen. Sanders added that it’s a “preposterous argument” and “just another scare tactic.”

Indeed, as Sen. Udall said in a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, quoting People For the American Way President Michael Keegan:

‘A good rule of thumb in politics is that the scarier someone sounds, the more you should doubt what they’re saying.’ We heard some scary things in the last couple of days. Lorne Michaels is going to jail. And he’s sharing a cell with the little old lady who put up a $5 dollar political yard sign. Books and movies are banned. The NAACP, Sierra Club, and Moveon.org have been prohibited from speaking about politics. Scary stuff. But none of it is true. [emphasis added]

Here’s what is true: the proposed amendment is supported by 73 percent of voters, including a growing body of grassroots activists who have pushed for hundreds of state and local resolutions and who are making senators’ phones ring off the hook this week with thousands of calls expressing their support for fixing our democracy.

So if the best that amendment opponents like Sen. Cruz can do is to push wild-eyed myths about comedic producers being thrown in jail, it’s clear that the American people are winning this fight.
 

Michael Peroutka Suggests That Obama Is A Greater Threat Than ISIS

The Institute on the Constitution’s Michael Peroutka — who is currently the GOP nominee for a seat on the county council in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — made his weekly appearance on “The Steve Deace Show” on Tuesday, where he somehow managed to blame President Obama for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

He appeared to hold Obama responsible for a plank in Iraq’s Constitution, adopted in 2005, which reads that “Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation.”

“We have somebody who calls himself president, chief executive, who says that we’re no longer a Christian country," he said, referring to remarks Obama made in 2006. "Well, think about that, if we’re no longer a Christian country and we see under Sharia law, we actually fight for Sharia law in Iraq — because for the Iraqis to adopt their constitution, which we shed our blood for, their constitution is based on Sharia law. Here we have Americans dying so that we can create and support and uphold some other form and understanding of law and government."

Peroutka wondered why someone who doesn't adhere to Christian nationalism would be upset about beheadings committed by ISIS.

“If we’re no longer a Christian nation, then why would we be upset about beheadings?” he asked. “Beheadings are all right in that other law form. We have become our own enemy by jettisoning principles on which our country was built.”

Discussing ISIS with guest host Rebecca Maxwell earlier in the interview, Peroutka seemed relatively unconcerned, suggesting that Obama was a greater threat to the country.

“Saddam Hussein, for example, he never tried to rob me of my right to property or to self-defense,” Peroutka said. “But Barack Hussein Obama does that almost constantly, when he’s not playing golf. So, my point is, the threats to American liberty and American life and our way of life, I really don’t think are foreign. I think they’re domestic.”

Pat Robertson: 'Girl-On-Girl Movies' Make Young People Think They're Gay

Today on “The 700 Club,” a viewer asked host Pat Robertson how she should handle the news that her 21-year-old daughter is in a same-sex relationship. In response, Robertson gladly offered up some of his patented bad advice for the parents of LGBT kids.

“She needs somebody to help her get her identity straight,” he said. “She may not be right in this, she may have thought she has a crush on some older girl along the way and she’s actually homosexual when she’s not, I don’t know. Why is she that way? Was she molested when she was younger?”

After co-host Terry Meeuwsen lamented that people are “telling kids to explore, it’s crazy,” Robertson criticized “the girl-on-girl movies” where “they’re getting straight actresses to play lesbians and straight men to play homosexuals and if you say anything against homosexuality you are just hooted out of court.”

“You need to love your daughter and give her a chance to work this out because if she gets deeper and deeper in it, sooner or later she is going to be disillusioned and say, ‘this is wrong, I want to come out of it,’” he added.

Staver: Obama's America Is Worse Than Nazi Germany

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Mat Staver and Matt Barber declared that this current period in time is the worst persecution that Christians have ever faced throughout American history because they are being forced to participate in both abortion and gay marriage.

Bizarrely, Staver claimed that, under Obamacare, Christians are not only being required to fund abortion but are literally being "forced to participate in genocide," which is something that not even the Nazi government forced the German citizens to do.

"Even in Nazi Germany," Staver said, "the government participated in genocide but the individuals, the citizens weren't forced to participate in it ... The people were not forced to push people into the gas chamber or pull the trigger, but now you're being forced to pull the trigger, you're being forced to participate in a genocide, that's different than anything before."

Barber agreed, saying "this is the most oppressive time in terms of religious liberty in the United States," not only because of abortion but also because Christians are also supposedly being persecuted for opposing gay marriage.

"Everyone is going to have to make a decision to either obey the laws of God or to obey the laws of man," Barber said, "and this is unprecedented."

Staver warned that Christians are being compelled to "participate in a Romans 1 platform" by affirming those whom God has given up to a reprobate mind.

"Romans 1 says that when you reject God as the Creator," he said, "God gives you up to a reprobate mind and one of the consequences of that is the people turn towards the same sex for sexual activity and pleasure":