Texas

Robertson: San Antonio Will Put Christians In Jail Over Anti-Discrimination Policy

Pat Robertson and his Christian Broadcasting Network filed a report today that falsely claimed that having a “biblical view” on sexuality has been “criminalized” in San Antonio, Texas. Robertson said San Antonio “has gone off the rails” by adopting a non-discrimination ordinance [PDF] which includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, and claimed that the new law would lead to Christians being thrown in prison: “This means that if you speak out about your deeply held religious beliefs they will put you in jail or brand you some kind of a class 3 felon.”

“This whole thing is outrageous and that city council should be replaced,” Robertson charged.

The segment quoted Christian Right activists arguing that gay people are seeking “special rights” while taking away the rights to religious freedom and speech of Christians. CBN reporter Heather Sells even said the new policy “criminalizes those with a biblical view of sexuality.”

Of course, the ordinance neither curtails free speech nor bars anti-LGBT politicians from servicing in office.

And no Pat Robertson, it does not put Christians in jail or turn them into felons.

Watch highlights here:

Former Texas School Board Chairman Gives Bizarre Speech Claiming Biology Books Disprove Evolution

Yesterday afternoon, the Texas State Board of Education held its first hearing on whether to require new high school biology textbooks to teach creationism alongside evolution. One member of the panel appointed by the Texas Education Agency to review potential textbooks –few of whom were actual biologists--  concluded by recommending that high school biology texts be rooted in “bibilical principles.”

Yesterday, People For the American Way sent a letter to the board urging them to reject attempts to inject creationism into science classes. PFAW also joined with the Texas Freedom Network and other groups to deliver 300,000 petitions urging the board to stand up for science.

While most of those who showed up to testify at the hearing supported teaching evolution– our friends at  TFN documented many of these on their great live blog of the proceedings – there were some notable exceptions.

One of the first people to speak was Don McLeroy, a former chairman of the State Board of Education who was prominently featured in the documentary The Revisionaries. While most people were allowed just two minutes to speak, the board let McLeroy go on for over ten minutes in a bizarre speech in which he argued that the current textbooks teaching evolution should be approved because their evidence is so “weak” that children will realize that the theory of evolution is just “words” and a “just so story," and thereby strikes a "final blow" to the theory.
 

Texas Textbook Reviewer Sheds Light On Creationist Efforts To Undercut Science Education

In a letter sent to the State Board of Education, Jimmy Gollihar of the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology describes the lengths to which creationists are going to undermine science and advance Creationism in Texas classrooms, as well as the help they are receiving from board chair Barbara Cargill.

While the panels reviewing science textbooks are supposed to be independent of the school board, Cargill worked closely with creationism advocates on the panels, leading Gollihar to note that Cargill aided “those who might reasonably be regarded as creationists.”

Gollihar’s letter details how the creationists who are serving on the panel not only lack any credentials but seem not to understand basic science, such as the one panelist, a dietician, who demanded that biology textbooks incorporate “creation science based on biblical principles.”

“With such a gross misunderstanding of science, it is hard to fathom that any other comments the reviewer made would have been helpful or even accurate, and it further underscores the unfortunate skewing of the panels away from real, practicing scientists,” Gollihar writes.

As Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network points out, Gollihar’s name was even added to the anti-evolution panelist’s comment.

“The net result of having a huge raft of non-scientists on the panels was that rather than checking for factual errors in the texts I was put into the position of having to painstakingly educate other panel members on past and current literature,” Gollihar continues. “[E]ven beyond the obviously ideologically-derived comments on the materials many of the comments found littered throughout those reviews make no sense whatsoever from a scientific viewpoint.”

He notes that actual biologists are being sidelined in the process as he was “among a small minority of panelists that possessed any post-secondary education in the biological sciences.”

By stacking the panels with advocates of Creationism, the bodies did “not in any way reflect the distribution of viewpoints within the scientific community.”

First, it would seem that the selection process for reviewers is lacking, at best — politically motivated at worst. Coming into the live review session in Austin, I fully expected that as a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin I would be the least-qualified member on the panel. My fears of inadequacy would soon subside; it seems that I was in fact one of only two practicing scientists present; indeed, I was among a small minority of panelists that possessed any post-secondary education in the biological sciences. Given the high interest amongst the scientific community in improving science education in Texas, I doubt that the make-up of the panel reflected the application pool in any way.

In fact, I know that several of my colleagues who hold PhD or equivalent degrees in their respective fields were passed over in the selection process. Instead, we had several well-known creationists and even a Fellow of the Discovery Institute, an Intelligent Design think tank. Beyond the established creationists, apologists for “creation science” were scattered throughout each of the review teams. This does not in any way reflect the distribution of viewpoints within the scientific community. It is impossible to conclude that the teams reviewing textbooks were anything other than grossly skewed and obviously biased.

The net result of having a huge raft of non-scientists on the panels was that rather than checking for factual errors in the texts I was put into the position of having to painstakingly educate other panel members on past and current literature. Somewhat unsurprisingly, a reviewer from another table, who is also a well-known creationist without any training in biology, was quite proud that he was the one reviewing the sections on evolution for his table … with no scientific counterpoint to be had. As a result, even beyond the obviously ideologically-derived comments on the materials many of the comments found littered throughout those reviews make no sense whatsoever from a scientific viewpoint and are absolutely not germane to the content prescribed in the TEKS [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills].

Secondly, I and other members of my group grew increasingly concerned with both the actions and presence of Chairwoman Barbara Cargill during the review of course materials for high school biology. We appreciated her kind words about our service to the state, but we were taken aback by the sheer amount of time spent with other panel members, especially those who might reasonably be regarded as creationists. From our vantage, Ms. Cargill was clearly trying to steer the independent review process by providing specific guidance and direction to the two other teams. She appeared to be pointing to specific locations within certain texts and encouraging the members of the panel to recommend changes to the publishers. It is our understanding that the review process should be absent of any undue influence from SBOE members.

...

Finally, I have recently been made aware that a reviewer from another team made what appears to be a grossly misrepresentative comment to the publisher. For example, in the review of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt textbook, an incredible resource, a panel member comments:

I understand the National Academy of Science's strong support of the theory of evolution. At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator and parent, I feel very strongly that "creation science" based on Biblical principles should be incorporated to every Biology book that is up for adoption. It is very important for students to use critical thinking skills and give them the opportunity to weigh the evidence between evolution and "creation science."

This is disturbing for a number of reasons. The author of this comment has obviously not mastered the material contained within the TEKS, especially 2C. With such a gross misunderstanding of science, it is hard to fathom that any other comments the reviewer made would have been helpful or even accurate, and it further underscores the unfortunate skewing of the panels away from real, practicing scientists. Moreover, while I entered into this process hoping to improve it, I now find that my name appears on the final document containing this comment! At no time did I ever sign anything resembling such nonsense. In fact, the author of that comment and I never worked on anything together. I do not know how this inaccurate statement and my name have been paired, but because I am a professional in good standing I strongly ask you to please remove my name from anything that does not have my direct signature when providing materials to the public. To do otherwise is to potentially sully my reputation. In sum, the review process is either broken or corrupt.

In hopes of the former, let’s learn from this and ensure that the next generation of students from our state is equipped with a solid foundation in the biological sciences and can compete globally. Future panel members should be experts in the irrespective fields, preferably practicing scientists up to date on the modern information that students need. If necessary, it might be useful to partition the TEKS to academics and professionals who deal with these topics in their work and research. We should absolutely not see network, mechanical or chemical engineers, dieticians or others making decisions or pressuring publishers to change books on biology. Let biologists do biology. We’re actually pretty good at it.

Texas Conservatives Demand Science Textbooks Incorporate 'Creation Science Based On Biblical Principles'

Creationists advising the Texas Education Agency, the state’s board of education, are no longer even trying to hide the fact that they want to insert pseudo-scientific material grounded in religious beliefs into public school science textbooks. Terrence Stutz of the Dallas Morning News reports that evolution detractors appointed to the review boards are urging the textbook publishers to ignore the Supreme Court (along with science) and push Creationism, or be rejected.

One of the panelists reviewing the biology textbooks, a nutritionist, said that “creation science based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book that is up for adoption.”

Religious conservatives serving on state textbook review panels have criticized several proposed high school biology textbooks for not including arguments against Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The review panels include several creationists. They urge the State Board of Education to reject the books unless publishers include more disclaimers on key concepts of evolution.

One reviewer even suggested a rule requiring that each biology book cover “creation science.” That would run counter to a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The decision banned the teaching of creationism in public school science classes.



“I understand the National Academy of Science’s strong support of the theory of evolution,” said Texas A&M University nutritionist Karen Beathard, one of the biology textbook reviewers. “At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator, parent and grandparent, I feel very firmly that creation science based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book that is up for adoption.”

“Now the veil is dropped,” Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network writes. “Some of the reviewers are clearly oblivious to the fact that teaching religious arguments in a science classroom is blatantly unconstitutional.”

The National Center for Science Education and Texas Freedom Network found that the Creationists on the textbook review boards have also:

• asserted that "no transitional fossils have been discovered"

• insisted that there is no evidence for a human influence on the carbon cycle

• claimed that there is no evidence about the effect of climate change on species diversity

• promoted a book touting "intelligent design" creationism as a reliable source of scientific information

• denied that recombination and genetic drift are evolutionary mechanisms

• mischaracterized experiments on the peppered moth as "discredited" and as "fabrication[s]"

Due to the size of the Texas market, textbooks tailored to the state’s standards could be used across the country, making the ramifications of the Creationist influence even greater.

Arguments Against San Antonio’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Collapse Under Their Own Ridiculousness

The Religious Right has gone into overdrive to fight a San Antonio ordinance that added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the city’s non-discrimination policy [PDF], which already included bans on discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex…veteran status, age or disability.” But despite their hyperventilating, the measure passed anyway.

The ordinance’s opponents were certainly not helped by their strategy of using far-fetched, over-the-top arguments to mischaracterize the ordinance…because that it was just too easy to point out where went wrong.

Take, for instance, pastor Charles Flowers, a vocal opponent of the ordinance, who appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show on September 6 to charge that councilmembers who backed the measure “don’t deserve to serve any longer” because they “assaulted” the rights of Christians.

His main complaint about the ordinance was that homosexuality is a “sexual lifestyle choice” and not an immutable characteristic…like a person’s religious beliefs.

“There is a strong response coming from this community to rid our city council of people whose judgment -- this is the issue, they could not judge the difference between the sacred suffering of someone involved in the Civil Rights Movement to gain basic human rights based on immutabilities like race, sex, where you were born and your creeds, that don’t change,” Flowers charged. “They couldn’t tell the difference between that and some group that has a sexual propensity or making as sexual lifestyle choice and now seeking protection in order to persecute and punish anybody whose ideology is different from their own.”

That’s right; the arguments from ordinance’s opponents have come down to the claim that a person’s religious beliefs are unchangeable.

Flowers later contended that “speaking out against the homosexual or lesbian agenda could garner you a fine of $500 per day.”

“That’s $15,000 a month that you could be fined in the seventh largest city in America for expressing a difference between the ideology proposed by a city, where homosexuality and lesbianism is concerned, and your personal belief and personal faith.”

“This is like a police state,” Flowers said, adding that employers who don’t believe in gay rights won’t be able to win city contracts.

His claim that people will be fined for speaking out on homosexuality was so blatantly false that Mefferd had to ask him if pastors could be fined. Flowers alleged that the ordinance would only affect businessmen who seek to fire their openly gay staff members or refuse to serve transgender customers.

Now there is a huge difference between a government fining a person for speaking out against homosexuality or for harboring anti-gay views and prohibiting businesses from discriminating against LGBT employees and customers in public accommodation.

Does he really not see the difference or is he just hoping that listeners will fall for the blatant falsehood?

Furthermore, “religious organizations” are clearly explicitly exempted from the ordinance’s provision on public accommodation, employment and housing, so the Christian businesses Flowers mentioned wouldn’t be impacted.

Ted Cruz 'Honored' To Go Hunting With Steve King

Texas senator and likely 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz has made a notable friend in Iowa: Rep. Steve King. The Des Moines Register reports that Cruz has accepted King’s invitation to go pheasant hunting on the opening day of the hunting season next month, and was “honored to have received the invite.”

“Yes, we are confirmed for a hunt with King,” Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in an email Friday to the Des Moines Register. “The senator has enjoyed getting to know him and work with him on important issues before Congress. He’s honored to have received the invite.”

Prior to the 2012 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses, King hosted former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum twice for bird hunting at Iowa game preserves and Texas Gov. Rick Perry on one occasion. The Iowa congressman said in an interview on Thursday he hopes to shape the debate for the 2016 GOP presidential contest by serving as a “guardrail of constitutional conservatism.”

Cruz’s proud association with King is another sign that the Texan has no plans to moderate his positions in advance of a presidential run. King earned rebukes from his party leadership last month when he insisted that most young undocumented immigrants are drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” He has also compared immigrants to dogs.

Cruz has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposal.
 

Steve Stockman: We’re Not Shutting Down the Government, We’re Saving America!

Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas has a clever new plan to avert government shutdown. Stockman suggests that the House GOP, rather than threatening to shut down the government if Obamacare remains funded, should instead offer to keep the government open except for funding Obamacare.

If the distinction isn’t clear to you, Stockman tried to clear things up in an appearance yesterday on Newsmax, where he explained, “One of the things that we’re doing wrong is that we’re accepting the argument that when we defund Obamacare, that we’re closing the government down. We’re not! In fact, we’re saving the nation’s future by not funding it.”

Stockman went on to explain that the shift in messaging is necessary because, while Republicans have math on their side, “Democrats will bring out somebody in a wheelchair, and we lose the argument on visuals.”

Beck: San Antonio's Anti-Discrimination Proposal Is Just A Bid By Mayor Julián Castro For Higher Office

On Monday night's broadcast of "The Glenn Beck Program," Beck and John Hagee dedicated a segment to railing against a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance in San Antonio, Texas that the Religious Right is convinced would ban Christians from running for office or in any way working for the government.

It is not true, of course, but Beck returned to the topic again last night when he asserted that the filibuster Texas state Senator Wendy Davis carried out against the radical anti-abortion legislation earlier this summer was nothing more than a stunt designed to raise her profile in order to allow her to run for higher office, just as San Antonio's anti-discrimination proposal is an effort by the city's mayor to become Vice President of the United States.

"In this case," Beck said, "the mayor of San Antonio is a Hispanic and he's trying to show Hillary Clinton and all the other Democrats that he is the perfect running mate in 2016."

Because that makes sense, since presidential candidates frequently tap mayors to serve as their running mates:

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/30/13

  • Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: The video Steve King thinks he wants you to see.
  • Jeremy Hooper: Pastor who vowed to punch out pro-gay clergy: I am 'truly sorry.'
  • Media Matters: Meet The Fringe Right-Wing Commentators Who Met With Top Republicans To Push For A Benghazi Special Committee.
  • Joan McCarter @ Daily Kos: New anti-Obamacare campaign: Health insurance is bad.
  • TFN Insider: Alarm Bells Are Ringing: Creationists Get Influential Positions in Texas Science Textbook Review.

Abbott: Obama Administration Voter Protection Violating Rights of Latino Republicans

Texas Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott claims the Obama administration’s lawsuit against a redistricting plan, which a federal court unanimously ruled was designed to deliberately discriminate against Latino voters, is proof that the administration is actually discriminating against Latino Republicans.

With new legal battles heating up between the Justice Department and Texas over redistricting and voter ID laws, Abbott has taken to the Washington Times to argue that the Obama administration seeks to violate “the rights of Hispanic voters who preferred representatives” who are Republicans. “The administration’s approach reveals the Democrats fear that Republican candidates were making inroads with Hispanic voters,” Abbott writes.

While around 1.4 million Texans lack voter ID, Abbott claims that “crying ‘voter suppression’ is nothing but a cynical scare tactic designed to mobilize Democratic partisans, none of whom ever will be prevented from voting by these laws,” adding that “the Obama administration is sowing racial divide to score cheap political points.”

In redistricting, the Obama administration has aligned itself with Democratic state representatives and Democratic members of Congress who already are suing Texas. It is no surprise then that the legal position of President Obama’s attorneys seeks to improve Democratic candidates’ prospects. Of course, Mr. Obama’s attorneys conceal this partisan agenda with lofty rhetoric about minority voting rights. But it is no coincidence that every change to district lines supported by the administration benefits Democrats. Behind the empty allegations of racial discrimination lies one goal — helping Democrats in 2014.

The president’s partisan use of the Voting Rights Act actually hurts many minority voters in Texas. With the administration’s support, redistricting litigation already has unseated Texas state Reps. Jose Aliseda, Raul Torres, Aaron Pena and John Garza, as well as U.S. Rep. Quico Canseco. These representatives — all Republicans — won in 2010 in predominantly Hispanic districts. In 2011, however, the Obama administration and other partisan interest groups succeeded in getting a court to draw district lines so that only a Democrat could win these seats. As a direct result, all of these Republican Hispanic representatives lost their seats in 2012 except for Mr. Aliseda, who chose not to run for re-election. His district had been dismantled altogether at Democrats request.

The administration’s approach reveals the Democrats fear that Republican candidates were making inroads with Hispanic voters. Democrats could never “turn Texas blue” if that trend continued, so they got the courts to draw district lines that guarantee Democratic victory in predominantly Hispanic areas. What about the rights of Hispanic voters who preferred representatives such as Mr. Aliseda, you might ask? They apparently don’t matter to this administration.

Similarly, polling consistently shows that Hispanic Texans strongly support voter-ID requirements, another target of the administration’s litigious political strategy. Electoral fraud harms voters of all races, and voter ID is a simple, nondiscriminatory way to help stop it. Getting an ID is free of charge for any Texan who needs one. Voter-ID laws already have been upheld by the Supreme Court. Crying “voter suppression” is nothing but a cynical scare tactic designed to mobilize Democratic partisans, none of whom ever will be prevented from voting by these laws. The administration’s absurd claim that this common-sense fraud prevention device is actually a racist plot to prevent minorities from voting would be comical if it weren’t so depressing to see an American president stoop to that level.



After the Shelby County decision, the Voting Rights Act still works. It just no longer imposes an onerous and costly preclearance requirement that disrupts the state-federal balance of power enshrined in the Constitution. Instead of allowing the Voting Rights Act to work in a way the Constitution allows, the Obama administration is sowing racial divide to score cheap political points. The president is using the legal system as a sword to wage partisan battles rather than a shield to protect voting rights. This overreaching action undermines the Voting Rights Act and the rule of law. Texas will not tolerate it. So far, neither will the Supreme Court.

Rios: 'Promiscuous Men' like Obama Behind Abortion Rights

Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas spoke about his role in the anti-choice demonstrations in Austin, Texas, yesterday with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios, who in turn shared with Jeffress the real force behind abortion rights: promiscuous men.

“It is generally, from my opinion, the promiscuous white men who are pushing abortion,” Rios said. “I would even say the promiscuous black ones like our president, oh forgive me I shouldn’t say that, but they’re the ones who want sexual license, they do not want responsibility; abortion has always helped men more than it helps women.”

Jeffress predicted that the Supreme Court might take up a new challenge to Roe and claimed that “Roe v. Wade was the Dred Scott decision of our generation.”

The megachurch pastor maintained that abortion rights opponents will “buy a little more time for our country before God’s judgment” comes to America for decriminalizing abortion, just as God punished Israel and Nazi Germany: “He raised up the Babylonians and the Assyrians to judge Israel for engaging in child sacrifice; he raised up the Allied forces to crush Nazi Germany for taking kids to the gas chambers by the trainloads.”

Texas Americans for Prosperity Director: Pro-Choice Women Should 'Choose Sterilization'

As Texas lawmakers debate a bill that would shut down most of the state’s abortion providers, Texas Americans for Prosperity state director and GOP activist Peggy Venable yesterday tweeted that pro-choice women should “choose sterilization” as they are “nasty” and “simply should not procreate.” The Texas Freedom Network grabbed the tweet before she took it down:

Venable has since called the tweet a “lame attempt at humor” and apologized.

Texas State Senator Compares Himself to Jesus, Condemns 'Anarchy' of Pro-Choice 'Mob'

Texas Republican state senator Dan Patrick is not impressed by Wendy Davis. Despite Davis’ all day filibuster of an anti-choice bill, Patrick thinks he is the one that deserves the praise. Patrick, the sponsor of the bill, told Mike Huckabee today that he urged his fellow Republicans to break Senate tradition and stop the filibuster.

He compared his action to Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees for placing too much importance on “laws and rules.” Patrick went on to encourage other senators to similarly cast off the law, asking, “Are we going to become the modern day Pharisees as Republicans of the Senate?”

Patrick also criticized the crowd that turned out to support Davis, calling it an “organized mob” carrying out an attack on the government. He blamed their behavior on the fact that they were Democrats, because “a tea party would never do this.”

Cathie Adams Finds Proof Grover Norquist is a Secret Muslim: 'As You See, He Has a Beard'

The Far North Dallas Tea Party posted a video this week of a PowerPoint presentation that Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, gave recently on “Radical Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Unsurprisingly, Adams sees the influence of “stealth jihad” everywhere in American society – including in the Republican Party. In her speech, Adams claimed credit for personally bringing down the candidacy of Amir Omar, an Iranian-American Republican who ran for Congress in Texas in 2006. She also railed against former Bush administration official and conservative activist Suhail Khan, wondering, “Where did he come from? How did this man get here? Did he overstay a visa?” (The short answer, if she really wants to know, is that he was born in Colorado, so no.)

But Adams saved her true vitriol for anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, who has provoked the wrath of anti-Muslim activists for his marriage to a Muslim woman and his efforts to reach out to Muslim conservatives. Adams warned that although “oftentimes we like what he says about economic issues,” Norquist is in fact “Trouble with a capital T” and is “showing signs of converting to Islam himself.”

Her evidence for Norquist’s secret conversion? “As you see, he has a beard.”

Ted Cruz Won't 'Throw Rocks'

Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas, has spent his first few months in office making enemies on both sides of the aisle. Perhaps this is because the Tea Party hero employs a potent mix of of sanctimonious rhetoric and hatchet-job politics that led one of his fellow GOP senators to call him “Jim DeMint without the charm.” His particular brand of smarminess was on display, for instance, when he delivered a condescending, elementary school-level lecture about the Constitution to Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Or when he explained that he was for gun sales background checks but opposed a bill to expand them because the very real gun-show loophole “doesn’t exist.” Or when he mocked his Republicans colleagues who did support the background check bill, calling them weak “squishes.”

So it was a treat today to stumble across this interview that Cruz gave earlier this month to Red State, in which he explains that if anybody has a problem with him it’s their own fault because, “When others have chosen to insult me, to throw rocks at me, I have not and will not respond in kind.”

“Washington is a place where people often shy away from speaking the truth,” he explained. “And so my focus will remain on the substance...and I think there’s some that don’t like a consistent and explicit focus on the substance of the issue.”
 

We thought we’d help Sen. Cruz out by highlighting just a few examples of times when he has refrained from throwing rocks and displayed “a consistent and explicit focus on the substance of the issue”:

Texas Education Official to Investigate Whether Schools Teach 'Roles of Men and Women in a Traditional Way'

The Texas Board of Education member who is leading the committee to review CSCOPE, a curriculum that has been the target of several right-wing conspiracy theories, told a Republican women’s group that his committee will “look at whether or not [CSCOPE lessons] treat the roles of men and women in a traditional way.”

Republican Marty Rowley also told the group that CSCOPE had “a definite leftist bent” but that it is not as left-wing as Common Core, promising to block “any opening or opportunity for Common Core to weasel its way into Texas.”

Like CSCOPE, Common Core has come under attack from conservative figures.

The comments were first spotted by Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, who notes that right-wing activists in Texas have consistently criticized textbooks “for including information on birth control, line drawings of self-exams for breast cancer and other content they found morally objectionable.”

“As folks began to look at those lessons what they began to see was there was a definite leftist bent to some of those lessons, particularly in the area of social studies and it became of great concern to folks, myself included,” said Rowley, R-Amarillo, during the Midland County Republican Women meeting Wednesday.

Rowley represents Midland as the District 15 SBOE member and was recently appointed chairman of an ad hoc committee to review the CSCOPE social studies curriculum this summer.



“We have some specific criteria that we’re looking at (regarding the CSCOPE lessons). We’re going to look at whether or not they treat the roles of men and women in a traditional way. That’s part of the operating rules and things that we’re looking at,” Rowley said. “We’re going to look at whether or not they treat American exceptionalism in a particular way and whether they enforce the belief that America is an exceptional nation.”



“I’ve looked through (the Common Core Standards) and it’ll curl your eyebrows. It’s not something you’ll enjoy reading. You think CSCOPE’s to the left, you ought to read Common Core,” Rowley said. “My concern is if we just say do away with this entire curriculum that 75 percent of our school districts use, they’re going to go shopping for something else. I don’t want to create any opening or opportunity for Common Core to weasel its way into Texas.”

'As A Journalist,' Glenn Beck Wants To Know If Airport Shooter 'Ever Attended Any Occupy Wall Street Stuff'

Glenn Beck kicked off his radio program this morning by reiterating his theory that the shooting that occurred at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, TX yesterday was some sort of Reichstag-like false flag operation orchestrated by the "uber-left" to undermine the NRA convention taking place in the same city.

"As a journalist and somebody that runs a journalistic organization," Beck explained, "I want to find out if this guy has been unemployed, if he was a union worker, if he's ever attend any Occupy Wall Street stuff."

Beck then tied this theory to his other theory involving the Boston Marathon bombing, saying that just as the Tsarnaev brothers were supposedly guided into carrying out the bombing by their Saudi national/al Qaeda "control agent," this shooter may likewise have been guided into this act by some "uber-left" revolutionary he met at an Occupy Wall Street rally.

"I only jumped to that conclusion that it needs to be looked into," Beck said, "because I've studied revolutions and this happens all the time in the beginning of revolutions. In Germany, it was the Reichstag fire and something happens, everybody goes into a panic and then laws are passed and all of a sudden, it's lights out":

Jeffress: Most Catholics Going to Hell, Obama Paving the Way for the Antichrist

First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress, who made headlines when Tim Tebow backed out of an upcoming appearance at his new $130 million megachurch campus, spoke at length about the controversy during a recent appearance on the Alan Colmes Radio Show. Jeffress complained that he had been taken out of context and tried to downplay and sidestep some of his most explosive remarks. But for the most part, he just cemented his reputation as an extremist.

Jeffress began his defense on an inauspicious note, noting that he has a Jewish friend in New York so he can’t possibly be anti-Semitic. While we’ve never called him anti-Semitic, we have noted that Jeffress believes Jews are destined for hell – along with Catholics, Mormons, Muslims and gays, so at least they’ll have company.

Colmes asked Jeffress about many of his most contentious remarks, such as whether he ever said that “Roman Catholicism is Satanic.” “I never used the term ‘Satanic,’” Jeffress responded. That’s technically true but highly misleading: Jeffress has said Satan is behind the Catholic Church. It only got more disingenuous from there. 

Jeffress relegated the overwhelming majority of the world’s Catholics to hell while trying to make it sound like he was doing no such thing:

I believe today that there are millions of Catholics who are gonna be in heaven because of the relationship with Christ. I work with Catholic priests in our community. We march together on the pro-life issues. I think there are millions of Catholics who are in heaven. 

There are over one billion Catholics alive today around the world, and there have been countless more over the course of nearly two millennia. Jeffress wants to assure us that he’s not an extremist who would just assign all Catholics to hell. So instead he damned about 99% and saved “millions” from eternal damnation. Lucky for Jeffress, they’re the same ones that show up for anti-abortion rallies. What are the odds?

Jeffress also tried to clear up a misunderstanding about President Obama and the Antichrist. He does not believe that Obama is the Antichrist per se, as some have reported, but merely believes that Obama is paving the way for the Antichrist, as we first reported. Gee, I can't imagine why there was confusion.

Jeffress was only willing to fully own up to one of his comments. “Mormonism, you said, Islam, is from the pit of hell?” Colmes asked. “Yes, now that one they actually got right Al,” responded Jeffress.

Watch:

Texas Attorney General to Receive an Honor from Far-Right Texas Pastors Council

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is to be honored by a far-right group whose leader has a history of comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler and attacking gays and lesbians.

Abbot is to receive an honor from two local affiliates of the U.S. Pastor’s Council, the Texas Pastor Council and the Houston Area Pastor Council. It’s unclear to what extent the groups are “groups”: all three share a website and are led by a single man, extremist pastor Dave Welch.

The groups are also planning to honor Paul Pressler, who helped lead the “conservative resurgence” within the Southern Baptist Convention. Former Clinton inquisitor Ken Starr, who now works for Baylor University, is delivering the keynote address.

The Texas Freedom Network first noticed the event and highlighted Welch’s extreme rhetoric.

For example, Welch has:

  • Likened pastors who vouch for Obama’s Christian faith to Nazis and asserted that “Obama’s anti-Christian, anti-life, anti-marriage, anti-constitutional and anti-American policies” prove he only seeks to “use the church in the same way as a previous leader on a different continent,” Hitler. 
  • Claimed the judge who ruled that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is unconstitutional is a treasonous “domestic enemy.”

But working with radicals like Welch is just part of the game for Texas Republicans, who continue to compete with each other to see who can be farthest to the right.

The Perils of Teaching the Bible in Public Schools

Rob Boston at Americans United notes that the Arkansas House just voted to require the state’s Education Board to approve elective classes about the Bible if they meet appropriate standards.  The Supreme Court has said the Bible may be taught about in public schools when “presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.”

But teaching about the Bible without teaching it religiously is not an easy thing to do. It requires carefully designed curricula, well-intentioned and well-trained educators, and a commitment to meaningful oversight.  People For the American Way was part of a religiously and politically diverse group of organizations that worked together to produce the 1999 publication The Bible in Public Schools, a First Amendment Guide. That guide emphasized that how any such course is taught will determine whether it passes constitutional muster:

When teaching about the Bible in a public school, teachers must understand the important distinction between advocacy, indoctrination, proselytizing, and the practice of religion – which is unconstitutional – and teaching about religion that is objective, nonjudgmental, academic, neutral, balanced, and fair – which is constitutional.

But that’s not how if often works in practice. In 2000, People For the American Way Foundation published a scathing expose, The Good Book Taught Wrong: Bible History Classes in Florida Public Schools. The PFAW Foundation investigation found that “Bible History” classes were often being taught more like Christian Sunday School classes from a sectarian, Protestant perspective. Bible stories were treated as literal history. Among lessons and exam questions asked of students:

  • "If you had a Jewish friend who wanted to know if Jesus might be the expectant [sic] Messiah, which book [of the Gospels] would you give him?"
  • "Compose an explanation of who Jesus is for someone who has never heard of Him."  
  • "Why is it hard for a non-Christian to understand things about God?"
  • "What is Jesus Christ's relationship to God, to creation, and to you?"
  • "Who, according to Jesus, is the father of the Jews? The devil."

That expose led Florida officials to yank those classes and revamp the curricula.

But more than a decade later, similar problems persist, as the Texas Freedom Network documented in a January report that found classes designed more to evangelize students to a literalist, fundamentalist view of the Bible rather than to teach about its role in literature and history. Included in the lesson plans examined by TFN were characterizations of Judaism as a flawed and incomplete religion, Christian-nation approaches to US history, and material “explaining” racial origins via the sons of Noah.

Are Arkansas legislators and education officials prepared to invest in the development of curricula, the training of educators, and meaningful oversight into how the classes are taught?

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