Public Education

Pro-Voucher Group Working Against Recall of Union-Busting Wisconsin Republicans

An organization that backs private school vouchers is campaigning against the recall of the eight Republican Wisconsin senators who backed Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation. The so-called American Federation for Children (AFC) is an ardent supporter of the voucher scheme in Milwaukee, the unsuccessful voucher program which Walker and his GOP allies want to export to other parts of the state as part of bolstering the Republicans’ attacks on public schools and teachers.

Listen to their robocall defending GOP Senator Sheila Harsdorf:

At the same time that Walker and the Republicans proposed a massive $834 million cut to public schools, endangering the state’s esteemed public education system, they seek to spend more taxpayer money on a wasteful voucher program that has been unable to improve the education of Milwaukee students. A comprehensive study in 2009 found “no overall statistically significant difference between [voucher school] and [public school] student achievement growth in either math or reading one year after they were carefully matched to each other,” and that fourth graders in the voucher program were actually performing worse than comparable public school students.

While the private school voucher scheme did nothing to improve education, it did funnel taxpayer dollars to religious schools: of the 120 schools receiving vouchers examined in the study, 95 were religious and 7 operate within a religious tradition.

Renowned education scholar Diane Ravitch, once a proponent of the so-called “school choice” movement, told OnMilwaukee.com that the voucher program “has not worked”:

Milwaukee is indeed the nation's laboratory for assessing the value of school choice. The advocates of school choice predicted that academic performance in choice schools would not only soar, but that the competitive pressure would cause achievement in the regular district schools to improve. None of this has happened. The latest studies show that students in voucher schools and in charter schools do not perform any differently from those in the regular public schools.



"Reformers" in Milwaukee have been pursuing strategies that we now know are ineffective. The more time and resources devoted to ineffective strategies, the less attention there is to finding useful improvements. Choice got the support of foundations and business leaders, but it has not worked.

Even the state schools superintendent Tom Evers agreed that “choice schools have proven to be no more effective and in some cases less effective than Milwaukee Public Schools.”

But organizations like the AFC ignore and dismiss the clear findings that the Milwaukee voucher program is a wrongheaded and ill-designed effort to improve education, and instead want to expand the program to more school districts and tear down the public education system. Now, they want to make sure that Republican legislators keep their jobs and continue to support vouchers and bust unions representing public school teachers.

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 2/15/11

Michele Bachmann

New Hampshire: Announces intention to visit New Hampshire at CPAC (Minnesota Independent, 2/14).

CPAC: Uses faulty tax math at her CPAC speech (WaPo, 2/11).

Health Care: Says that repealing reform law is “the driving motivation of my life” (RWW, 2/10).

Haley Barbour

Immigration: Lobbied for Mexico to support the extension of an “amnesty” program (Salon, 2/14).

Lobbying: Politico looks into conflicts of interest as Governor after lobbying for tobacco industry (Politico, 2/14).

Iowa: Plans to address a Republican fundraiser in Iowa on March 15 (The Note, 2/14).

Mitch Daniels

Tea Party: Rush Limbaugh thinks Daniels is trying “to discredit talk radio and the tea party movement” (Politico, 2/14).

CPAC: Speech on debt receives rave reviews from pundits, but Daniels wins just four percent of straw poll votes (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 2/14).

Education: Pushes dramatic school vouchers bill despite cuts to public education (Evansville Courier & Press, 2/13).

Jon Huntsman

Utah: The former Utah governor trails Romney among state’s Republicans (Desert News, 2/12).

2012: Hires staff for his leadership PAC (Politico, 2/11).

Mike Huckabee

Religious Right: Criticizes GOProud during CPAC controversy (GOP12, 2/11).

Poll: Leading Republican choice on who would make a good president (The Atlantic, 2/11).

Sarah Palin

Poll: Struggles in polls of early primary states (Politico, 2/14).

Budget: Uses phony data to critique Obama’s proposed budget (CBS News, 2/14).

PAC: Hires chief of staff for leadership PAC (CNN, 2/11).

Tim Pawlenty

Religious Right: Plans to attend Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting in Iowa in March (Iowa Independent, 2/14).

Florida: Set to address Florida’s Republican state legislators (Florida Times Union, 2/11).

CPAC: Attacks President Obama as weak in CPAC speech (RWW, 2/11).

Mitt Romney

New Hampshire: Has support of 40% of New Hampshire GOP primary voters in WMUR Granite State poll (WMUR, 2/14).

Nevada: Meets with supporters in the early caucus state (LVRJ, 2/14).

Health Care: Massachusetts reform law continues to haunt Romney among conservatives (The Plum Line, 2/14).

Rick Santorum

Religious Right: Plans to attend Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting in Iowa in March (Iowa Independent, 2/14).

Palin: Runs away from criticizing Palin after she calls him a “Neanderthal” (PoliticalWire, 2/10).

CPAC: Criticizes judiciary and defends social conservatism at CPAC (RWW, 2/10).

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 2/15/11

Michele Bachmann

New Hampshire: Announces intention to visit New Hampshire at CPAC (Minnesota Independent, 2/14).

CPAC: Uses faulty tax math at her CPAC speech (WaPo, 2/11).

Health Care: Says that repealing reform law is “the driving motivation of my life” (RWW, 2/10).

Haley Barbour

Immigration: Lobbied for Mexico to support the extension of an “amnesty” program (Salon, 2/14).

Lobbying: Politico looks into conflicts of interest as Governor after lobbying for tobacco industry (Politico, 2/14).

Iowa: Plans to address a Republican fundraiser in Iowa on March 15 (The Note, 2/14).

Mitch Daniels

Tea Party: Rush Limbaugh thinks Daniels is trying “to discredit talk radio and the tea party movement” (Politico, 2/14).

CPAC: Speech on debt receives rave reviews from pundits, but Daniels wins just four percent of straw poll votes (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 2/14).

Education: Pushes dramatic school vouchers bill despite cuts to public education (Evansville Courier & Press, 2/13).

Jon Huntsman

Utah: The former Utah governor trails Romney among state’s Republicans (Desert News, 2/12).

2012: Hires staff for his leadership PAC (Politico, 2/11).

Mike Huckabee

Religious Right: Criticizes GOProud during CPAC controversy (GOP12, 2/11).

Poll: Leading Republican choice on who would make a good president (The Atlantic, 2/11).

Sarah Palin

Poll: Struggles in polls of early primary states (Politico, 2/14).

Budget: Uses phony data to critique Obama’s proposed budget (CBS News, 2/14).

PAC: Hires chief of staff for leadership PAC (CNN, 2/11).

Tim Pawlenty

Religious Right: Plans to attend Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting in Iowa in March (Iowa Independent, 2/14).

Florida: Set to address Florida’s Republican state legislators (Florida Times Union, 2/11).

CPAC: Attacks President Obama as weak in CPAC speech (RWW, 2/11).

Mitt Romney

New Hampshire: Has support of 40% of New Hampshire GOP primary voters in WMUR Granite State poll (WMUR, 2/14).

Nevada: Meets with supporters in the early caucus state (LVRJ, 2/14).

Health Care: Massachusetts reform law continues to haunt Romney among conservatives (The Plum Line, 2/14).

Rick Santorum

Religious Right: Plans to attend Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting in Iowa in March (Iowa Independent, 2/14).

Palin: Runs away from criticizing Palin after she calls him a “Neanderthal” (PoliticalWire, 2/10).

CPAC: Criticizes judiciary and defends social conservatism at CPAC (RWW, 2/10).

Horowitz: Teachers' Unions Leading the "Infiltration of Islamic Jihadist Doctrines Into Our K-12 School Systems"

After calling for conservative writer William Kristol to apologize for “demonizing Glenn Beck, who has done more to educate Americans about the unholy alliance between the secular left and the Islamic jihadists than anyone else,” David Horowitz is now railing against the purported “infiltration of Islamic Jihadist doctrines” in public schools. Horowitz was reacting to the latest right-wing outrage over a school district in Texas that “wanted students at selected schools to take Arabic language and culture classes as part of a federally funded grant,” a program “similar to the Spanish curriculum already in place in the district.” Ultimately, the school district put the Arabic language classes, which were to be “funded by a five-year, $1.3 million Foreign Language Assistance Program federal grant,” on hold.

But that hasn’t stopped Horowitz from speaking out. Horowitz, who has a long history of vilifying both Muslims and the public education system, is railing against the school district and teachers' unions as terrorist sympathizers who want to “indoctrinate students,” and claims that the Arab world contributed nothing to culture “except terror.” Horowitz tells the AFA’s OneNewsNow:

The DOE program identifies Arabic as "a language of the future." But David Horowitz, founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, says Arabic is now a language of the past.

"What has the Arab world contributed except terror?" he exclaims. "The theocratic, repressive Arabic states do no significant science, no significant arts and culture."

The political activist admits he is skeptical about the district's claim that the courses will be about language and culture, and not about the Islamic religion.

"We already have a lot of infiltration of Islamic jihadist doctrines into our K-12 school systems," he argues. "The teachers unions have ruined our K-12 schools. These unions are very left-wing and they encourage Palestinian terrorists to come to the school and indoctrinate students. So I'm not too happy about this news item."

Horowitz says if the Mansfield ISD really wanted to look at a "language of the future," they would teach their children Chinese.

Horowitz: Teachers' Unions Leading the "Infiltration of Islamic Jihadist Doctrines Into Our K-12 School Systems"

After calling for conservative writer William Kristol to apologize for “demonizing Glenn Beck, who has done more to educate Americans about the unholy alliance between the secular left and the Islamic jihadists than anyone else,” David Horowitz is now railing against the purported “infiltration of Islamic Jihadist doctrines” in public schools. Horowitz was reacting to the latest right-wing outrage over a school district in Texas that “wanted students at selected schools to take Arabic language and culture classes as part of a federally funded grant,” a program “similar to the Spanish curriculum already in place in the district.” Ultimately, the school district put the Arabic language classes, which were to be “funded by a five-year, $1.3 million Foreign Language Assistance Program federal grant,” on hold.

But that hasn’t stopped Horowitz from speaking out. Horowitz, who has a long history of vilifying both Muslims and the public education system, is railing against the school district and teachers' unions as terrorist sympathizers who want to “indoctrinate students,” and claims that the Arab world contributed nothing to culture “except terror.” Horowitz tells the AFA’s OneNewsNow:

The DOE program identifies Arabic as "a language of the future." But David Horowitz, founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, says Arabic is now a language of the past.

"What has the Arab world contributed except terror?" he exclaims. "The theocratic, repressive Arabic states do no significant science, no significant arts and culture."

The political activist admits he is skeptical about the district's claim that the courses will be about language and culture, and not about the Islamic religion.

"We already have a lot of infiltration of Islamic jihadist doctrines into our K-12 school systems," he argues. "The teachers unions have ruined our K-12 schools. These unions are very left-wing and they encourage Palestinian terrorists to come to the school and indoctrinate students. So I'm not too happy about this news item."

Horowitz says if the Mansfield ISD really wanted to look at a "language of the future," they would teach their children Chinese.

Fischer Claims to Oppose Bullying While Attacking the "Deviancy Cabal" Which Is Killing Gay Students

Yesterday Bryan Fischer dedicated ten minutes of his radio program to expanding upon his column blaming gay groups for suicides among young people in which he said that "if we want to see fewer students commit suicide, we want fewer homosexual students."

I have edited the segment down and I think it provides a perfect example of the utter incoherence of Fischer's anti-gay agenda in that he starts off by saying that if schools just taught the Ten Commandments there would be no bullying problems, then declares that defending God's word about homosexuality is not bullying and points to Carl Paladino as proof of what happens to those who dare to speak the truth, and then concludes by attacking the "deviancy cabal" for "brainwashing" students into declaring a "disordered sexual preference" and holding them responsible for suicides just as anyone who pressured kids into drug use would be guilty of their deaths:

If we were still inculcating Judeo-Christian principles in our public education system, we would not be having nearly the problem that we currently have this because of the classic Judeo-Christian values of courtesy and kindness, civility, respect for human beings that are made in the image of God. It's time for us to go back to introducing our students in our public eduction system to the time-honored standards that are found in the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the New Testament.

We have got to understand that speaking the truth about homosexual behavior is not bullying and it's not harassment, as much as the deviancy cabal wants it to be. I mean seriously ladies and gentlemen, they want to punish speech, they want to punish, intimidate anybody who would dare open his mouth and express criticism of homosexuality. Think of what happened to Carl Paladino, the way he has been landed on like a falling safe by every homosexual activist group in the world for daring to speak the truth about homosexuality.

I want to suggest that homosexual activists are not wholly innocent in these tragedies, in these horrible suicides by these students. Now realize that homosexuals cannot reproduce, so they have to recruit; it's the only way to swell their numbers. We, the sexually normal, we can be fruitful, we can multiply, we can fill the earth. Homosexuals cannot do it, they're incapable of procreation which is one of the reasons we should never sanctify those relationships with the term marriage or even domestic partnerships or civil unions.

Now part of the agenda of groups like GLSEN ... is to urge students at younger and younger ages to come out of the closet and declare a disordered sexual preference for themselves. so you've got sexually confused young people - and again, they're trying to push this down into kindergarten, they're trying to get this brainwashing into students of all ages even starting in elementary school - and what they're urging them to do is self-declare as homosexuals before they are mature enough to make any sort of rational decision about sexual matters.

So I'm suggesting that adults that pressure these students to declare a disordered sexual preference when they're too young to know better, that they share some culpability for those that take their life, just like an adult encouraging a young student to experiment with injection drug abuse - we would say to that adult, you share some culpability for what happens in the life of that student.

Glenn Beck Outrages The Right By Saying Gay Marriage Poses No Threat

Last week, Glenn Beck made news when he said that he didn't think issues like abortion or gay marriage were all that important and didn't pose a threat to the nation.

Needless to say, that is not sitting well with the Right and Beck is now coming under attack from people like David Kupelian, who are accusing him of abandoning core conservative values:

[S]peaking of our founding fathers, Glenn: The three founders you picture daily on your Fox TV show under the heading "Faith. Hope. Charity" – namely Sam Adams, George Washington and Ben Franklin – would have been horrified, appalled and aghast at the mere thought of men marrying men and women marrying women.

If you want to honor the founders, don't abandon their values.

America, you have a choice right now. Hold to what you know deep in your heart is right, even if both your enemies and your friends give you a hard time. Or, take the easy route and be comfortable, but lose your culture, your country, your children, and ultimately your self-respect.

And Joseph Farah is also going after Beck for not understanding the danger of "upsetting God's order":

Beck doesn't care about one of the most blatant and despicable examples of judicial tyranny in the history of our country. He doesn't care about the institution of marriage and its 5,000-year history. He doesn't care that the Bible says God created marriage way back in Genesis and that Jesus affirmed that. He doesn't care that the family is the building block of a society and that smarter men have explained how you simply can't have freedom and self-governance without it. He also doesn't seem to care about what might become of children adopted into such unions.

That, my friends, is the perfect illustration of what's wrong with the materialist worldview – whether it is held by a raving Marxist or a conservative entertainer.

And so is Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute, who accuses Beck of not caring about the impact it is having upon children:

True conservatives need to rethink their cowardly refusal to address the inherent immorality of homosexual practice and their deeply flawed strategy of calling for a moratorium on “social issues.” It’s astonishing that any thinking person could view as non-existential the radical redefinition of marriage and the implications it has for First Amendment speech and religious liberties as well as for parental rights and public education.

...

The sexual revolution with its severing of sex from marriage and marriage from procreation paved the way for severing marriage from gender. And now we have children being procreated with the deliberate intention of separating them from the biological parents who procreated them. Children are being deliberately denied their self-evident and inalienable right to be raised by the parents who produced them ... Homosexual activists in cahoots with legislators and judges are working feverishly — and successfully — to force public educators to present resources that affirm homosexuality and Gender Identity Disorder as positive and normal to even elementary school children. And Glenn Beck proclaims that homosexual marriage doesn’t hurt America. Apparently, children aren’t part of America in Beck’s World.

Just yesterday Glenn Beck was telling David Barton and Rick Green about how his upcoming "Restoring Honor" rally was, quite literally, being overseen by God and would lead to the next Great Awakening in America. 

But will the Religious Right support his effort now that he appears to be dismissing the social issues that are central to their agenda? 

Cynthia Dunbar and her Prayers for Public Education

The Texas Freedom Network has been doing amazing work covering the battle over curriculum standards in Texas .. and nothing better explains just what is going on than this post from TFN today highlighting the prayer delivered by right-wing Texas State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar to open the Board's debate over what the next generation of Texas students will learn about separation of church and state:

Even before the Texas State Board of Education took up its expected debate today over what students will learn about separation about church and state in their social studies classrooms, board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, made her position clear. She offered the board’s opening prayer this morning and removed any doubt about what she and other far-right board members want students to learn: America’s laws and government should be based on the Christian Bible.

Laying out in blunt language the “Christian nation” vision of American history that the board’s powerful bloc of social conservatives espouses, Dunbar threw down the gauntlet:

“I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses.”

“Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia, or the charter of New England…the same objective is present — a Christian land governed by Christian principles.”

“I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.”

This post reminded me that I had footage of Dunbar delivering a prayer for education at Janet Porter's May Day 2010 prayer rally earlier this month during which she proclaimed that the government had become destructive to the rights of its citizens and that it was time for "we the people to stand up and make the changes" while seeking forgiveness for having "trained generation after generation to not know that it's the providential hand of God" that has made America great and asking God to invade our school system to overcome the false idea that there are areas of instruction or knowledge "that can be found absent and devoid of the presence of the most high God": 

Texas School Board Member Cynthia Dunbar Joins May Day Prayer Rally

Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter continues to move ahead with her organizing for the "May Day: a Cry to God for Our Nation in Distress" prayer rally at the Lincoln Memorial on May 1:

Porter called on Christians to take part in a 40-day fast prior to the event. She said participants will give up something important to them in the days leading up to May Day.

"We just want God to know we're serious about standing in the gap for America," she said. "We are calling the remnant to come and repent. It's a two-fold plan to not only pray but to proclaim what our founders believed – that we are one nation under God."

Vision America President Dr. Rick Scarborough added, "We need to let God know we're serious about turning back to Him and fasting from something – whether it's television, dessert or food – will provide the breakthrough we desperately need as a nation."

...

Pro-family leaders across denominational boundaries have joined together for the effort including: Dr. James Dobson, American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright, Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver, NRB President Dr. Frank Wright, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, Dutch Sheets, David Barton and many members of Congress.

Porter has explained that the event is designed to break the curse that our nation is under for having elected President Obama, and now she's picking up some interesting new supporters for her effort:

Porter said Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer who serves on the Texas State Board of Education, will attend and ask God for forgiveness for how the nation has removed Him from American schools.

"She is going to come to May Day and repent for how we have taught our children lies, not only in revisionist history but also evolution, how we've kicked God out of school," Porter said. "She will repent on behalf of the education system, and she's also going to welcome God back in."

Dunbar played a central role in Texas' recent rewriting of its social studies requirements in order to make them better reflect the conservative worldview and, given her views, it is no surprise that she would team up with the likes of Porter:

In 2008, Cynthia Dunbar published a book called “One Nation Under God,” in which she stated more openly than most of her colleagues have done the argument that the founding of America was an overtly Christian undertaking and laid out what she and others hope to achieve in public schools. “The underlying authority for our constitutional form of government stems directly from biblical precedents,” she writes. “Hence, the only accurate method of ascertaining the intent of the Founding Fathers at the time of our government’s inception comes from a biblical worldview.”

Then she pushes forward: “We as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world.” But the true picture of America’s Christian founding has been whitewashed by “the liberal agenda” — in order for liberals to succeed “they must first rewrite our nation’s history” and obscure the Christian intentions of the founders. Therefore, she wrote, “this battle for our nation’s children and who will control their education and training is crucial to our success for reclaiming our nation.”

After the book came out, Dunbar was derided in blogs and newspapers for a section in which she writes of “the inappropriateness of a state-created, taxpayer-supported school system” and likens sending children to public school to “throwing them into the enemy’s flames, even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.” (Her own children were either home-schooled or educated in private Christian schools.) When I asked, over dinner in a honky-tonk steakhouse down the road from the university, why someone who felt that way would choose to become an overseer of arguably the most influential public-education system in the country, she said that public schools are a battlefield for competing ideologies and that it’s important to combat the “religion” of secularism that holds sway in public education.

On a related note, Rev. Paul Blair of Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ has put together this video urging people to attend the May Day event and "appeal in penitent prayer to the King of Kings for revival in our land":

What Does Abortion Have to Do With The Race For Texas School Board?

As you undoubtedly know by now, controlling the textbooks and curriculum in Texas has long been a  focus of the Religious Right, which is why they bring in "experts" like David Barton to help shape them and why elections for seats on the Board of Education can get pretty crazy.

How crazy?  Well, as the Texas Freedom Network reports, so crazy that anti-abortion groups are robocalling voters urging them to support specific candidates in the Republican primary today: 

We have a report that Joe Pojman of the far-right Texas Alliance for Life is robocalling voters in the District 10 Texas State Board of Education race today. Pojman is letting voters know that Brian Russell, one of the candidates in tomorrow’s Republican primary for the board seat, is “pro-life.”

What in blazes does the State Board of Education have to do with abortion politics? Nothing — except for religious-right pressure groups and activists, for whom the “culture wars” are all-consuming. Telling voters about Russell’s opposition to abortion is Pojman’s way of letting religious-right voters know who should get their vote in the race for the state board seat currently held by the departing Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond. (Dunbar recruited Russell, an Austin attorney who homeschools his children, to run for the seat.)

We don’t know what Russell’s Republican opponents, Marsha Farney and Rebecca Osborne, think about abortion. But now you know the priorities of Russell and his supporters on the far-right: they have every intention of continuing to drag our children’s schools into senseless and divisive “culture war” battles even on issues that have nothing to do with public education.

A TFN reader recorded the robocall and posted the audio:

Hello, this is Dr. Joe Pojman with the Texas Alliance for Life PAC urging you to get out and vote for Brian Russell for the State Board of Education in the Republican primary election

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 2 is Election Day.

Brian Russell is staunchly pro-life and is the only candidate to score 100% on the Texas Alliance for Life candidates survey.

Your vote is critical. Please support Brian Russell for the State Board of Education.

For more information, visit texasallianceforlife.org

Meet The Right-Wingers Drafting Your Textbooks

The New York Times Magazine has a long article on the battle over textbooks in Texas and the related question of just how religious were the Founding Fathers and how much of a role they intended religion to play in our government. 

The article is quite long, but I just wanted to highlight a few sections about the views and agendas of Texas Board of Education members Don McLeroy and Cynthia Dunbar:

I met Don McLeroy last November in a dental office — that is to say, his dental office — in a professional complex in the Brazos Valley city of Bryan, not far from the sprawling campus of Texas A&M University. The buzz of his hygienist at work sounded through the thin wall separating his office from the rest of the suite. McLeroy makes no bones about the fact that his professional qualifications have nothing to do with education. “I’m a dentist, not a historian,” he said. “But I’m fascinated by history, so I’ve read a lot.”

...

McLeroy is a robust, cheerful and inexorable man, whose personality is perhaps typified by the framed letter T on the wall of his office, which he earned as a “yell leader” (Texas A&M nomenclature for cheerleader) in his undergraduate days in the late 1960s. “I consider myself a Christian fundamentalist,” he announced almost as soon as we sat down. He also identifies himself as a young-earth creationist who believes that the earth was created in six days, as the book of Genesis has it, less than 10,000 years ago. He went on to explain how his Christian perspective both governs his work on the state board and guides him in the current effort to adjust American-history textbooks to highlight the role of Christianity. “Textbooks are mostly the product of the liberal establishment, and they’re written with the idea that our religion and our liberty are in conflict,” he said. “But Christianity has had a deep impact on our system. The men who wrote the Constitution were Christians who knew the Bible. Our idea of individual rights comes from the Bible. The Western development of the free-market system owes a lot to biblical principles.”

For McLeroy, separation of church and state is a myth perpetrated by secular liberals. “There are two basic facts about man,” he said. “He was created in the image of God, and he is fallen. You can’t appreciate the founding of our country without realizing that the founders understood that. For our kids to not know our history, that could kill a society. That’s why to me this is a huge thing.”

...

In 2008, Cynthia Dunbar published a book called “One Nation Under God,” in which she stated more openly than most of her colleagues have done the argument that the founding of America was an overtly Christian undertaking and laid out what she and others hope to achieve in public schools. “The underlying authority for our constitutional form of government stems directly from biblical precedents,” she writes. “Hence, the only accurate method of ascertaining the intent of the Founding Fathers at the time of our government’s inception comes from a biblical worldview.”

Then she pushes forward: “We as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world.” But the true picture of America’s Christian founding has been whitewashed by “the liberal agenda” — in order for liberals to succeed “they must first rewrite our nation’s history” and obscure the Christian intentions of the founders. Therefore, she wrote, “this battle for our nation’s children and who will control their education and training is crucial to our success for reclaiming our nation.”

After the book came out, Dunbar was derided in blogs and newspapers for a section in which she writes of “the inappropriateness of a state-created, taxpayer-supported school system” and likens sending children to public school to “throwing them into the enemy’s flames, even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.” (Her own children were either home-schooled or educated in private Christian schools.) When I asked, over dinner in a honky-tonk steakhouse down the road from the university, why someone who felt that way would choose to become an overseer of arguably the most influential public-education system in the country, she said that public schools are a battlefield for competing ideologies and that it’s important to combat the “religion” of secularism that holds sway in public education.

Ask Christian activists what they really want — what the goal is behind the effort to bring Christianity into American history — and they say they merely want “the truth.” “The main thing I’m looking for as a state board member is to make sure we have good standards,” Don McLeroy said. But the actual ambition is vast. Americans tell pollsters they support separation of church and state, but then again 65 percent of respondents to a 2007 survey by the First Amendment Center agreed with the statement that “the nation’s founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation,” and 55 percent said they believed the Constitution actually established the country as a Christian nation. The Christian activists are aware of such statistics and want to build on them, as Dunbar made clear. She told me she looks to John Jay’s statement that it is the duty of the people “of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers” and has herself called for a preference for selecting Christians for positions of leadership.

It's Pat! -- Vintage Pat Robertson, In His Own Words

People For the American Way was founded in the early 80s to counteract the nascent Religious Right -- Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell in particular. Through the 80s and 90s, PFAW staff recorded virtually every episode of the 700 Club.

In the lead up to Robertson's 1988 presidential campaign, we released a compilation of clips highlighting his controversial and outlandish views on the issues of the day. The compilation came to be known as the "Pat Robertson Film Festival." We recently posted all seven segments on YouTube.

Robertson on the Family and Women's Rights:

Robertson on Armageddon and Hurricane Gloria:

Robertson on Running for President:

Robertson on PFAW, His Opponents, and Freedom of Speech:

Robertson on Public Education:

Robertson on the Courts and Constitution:

Robertson on Social Security and Banking System:

Right Wing Round-Up

  • What do Randall Terry and the Phelps clan have in common?  They both protest Obama's daughters' school.
  • Gary Bauer says the alleged Fort Hood shooter was a "sleeper agent" while the author of "Muslim Mafia" says now is the time for a "backlash" against Muslims.
  • In Florida, the Tea Party is now officially a political party.
  • Alan Colmes: Scott Roeder Confesses To Killing George Tiller.
  • Raw Story: Palin sees conspiracy in new dollar coins.
  • Think Progress: Oklahomans rally at State Capitol to protest anti-choice law that would post abortion details online.
  • Media Matters: The Washington Times' history of anti-gay rhetoric.
  • Finally, quote of the day from the Texas Freedom Network: “Am I a religious fanatic? Absolutely. You’d have to be to do what I do.” – State Board of Education member Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, talking about how he approaches public education.

Hate Crimes: Get Ready For Pointless Grandstanding

President Obama hasn't even signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act yet, but right-wing activists are already "challenging" it ... or at least their warped version of it.

Here is the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission vowing to defy the legislation:

"The fact the hate bill had to be passed in such an unscrupulous and cynical manner (attaching it to the Defense Authorization Act) reveals the depth of President Obama's commitment to a radical, anti-Christian agenda. He will stop at nothing to undermine the will of the majority of Americans to pay back militant homosexual activists who raised millions of dollars for his campaign and worked to get him elected."

"To sign the bill in the Rose Garden is another slap in the face and shows the level of contempt President Obama has for the majority of Americans who oppose the "homosexualization" of marriage and public education."

"The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission will soon be announcing its plans, along with other leading pro-family groups, to defy, counter and challenge this unconstitutional attack on our religious liberty."

And here is Gordon Klingenschmitt daring Obama to prosecute him:

In other words, A) pastors may quote the Bible publicly if their "intention" is the free exercise of religion or speech, but B) pastors may not quote the Bible publicly if their "intention" is to conspire with listeners to commit an act of violence. This begs the question, if the pastor never announces whether the unspoken "intention" of his heart is A or B, how can any prosecutor, judge, or jury know whether the pastor's secret thoughts intended A) free exercise or B) conspiracy? Without revealing the secret intention of my own heart, whether A or B, I hereby publicly quote both Romans 1:32 and Leviticus 20:13:

Romans 1:32 -- "Men with men working that which is unseemly...who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death."

Leviticus 20:13 -- "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

I further invite President Barack Obama, as the chief law enforcement official of America, to discern the secret thoughts and intentions of my heart, and to prosecute me for conspiracy or inciting the violent crimes of others who might read my words and act upon them, if he dares to think he knows or can prove my motives were not pursuant to the free exercise of religion or speech.

Of course, neither CADC or Klingenschmitt nor anybody else is going to be prosecuted for speaking out or "defying" this and they know it.  After all, the legislation expressly protects free speech and religious freedom:

(4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this division shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual's expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual's membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.

(5) FIRST AMENDMENT- Nothing in this division, or an amendment made by this division, shall be construed to diminish any rights under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

(6) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this division shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution of the United States does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.

But just because the legislation poses no threat to their religious freedom or right to free speech, amazingly that is not going to stop some on the Right from trying to use the legislation to turn paint themselves as martyrs.

The Phyllis Schlafly School of Politics

USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman takes a look at Sarah Palin's "death panel" nonsense to make an astute point:

What interests me here is the tactical gimmick of arguing-by-extremes. Palin reflects the teachings of the master -- Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum and a conservative-right tactician extraordinaire.

Grossman is absolutely right about Schlafly's practice of making every political argument a fight between traditional conservative values and some insane nightmare scenario that she just dreamed up and it reinforces a point I made about her not very long ago.

To prove her case, Grossman dusted off and reposted a profile she wrote about Schlafly back in 1987 which, though dated, excellently explains Schlafly's tactics and offers a good insight into the standard right-wing practice of sowing confusion about already complex topics by spreading falsehoods designed solely to generate opposition by scaring the bejesus out of people:

U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has called for a public education campaign throughout society -- including the public schools at the earliest grades -- to prevent the spread of AIDS. In a 36-page report, Koop recommends information and behavioral change because there are not yet any medical or legal measures that will halt AIDS.

Schlafly scorns this. She claims Koop is advocating "safe sodomy" for elementary schoolers and she's circulating that message among conservatives.

"There's a lot of accurate information in his report, but when you get down to the bottom line, he does not call for any public health measures to protect the uninfected from the infected. He seems to lay the burden on the public schools to teach children how to engage in sex with condoms," she says in a recent interview at the Washington office of Eagle Forum, the umbrella group for her various activities.

"This must be what he means when he says he wants to teach them the risk behavior by which you get AIDS. Sodomy is a risk behavior by which you get AIDS. And we just simply don't think that grade school children need to be taught what homosexuals do."

In Schlafly's terms, "Teaching children to use condoms is about like teaching children who take drugs to use needles."

She can't actually point out a passage in Koop's report, however, that says anything exciting or explicit. She finally says the condoms-and-kids association is one she has made based on Koop's support for school-based health clinics which, among numerous other medical services, might offer family planning information.

Schlafly takes associations very seriously. In an anti-Koop letter she circulates, she and Paul Weyrich, another conservative spokesman, make a particular point of noting that the U.S. surgeon general once traveled to California at the invitation of "liberal Democratic officials who have strong connections to the homosexual community."

That all citizens might feel free to invite the surgeon general to speak on national issues is clearly not what Schlafly means. She means to warn: This man is tainted by his associations.

...

Convictions give a body energy. At 63, the only gray in her life is in her hair. Schlafly adores absolutes. It's an efficient way to reason in debates.

A serious debate requires an opponent of equal intellectual weight and moral force. Schlafly says she can't think of any honorable spokesman for the opposition -- someone of knowledge and integrity with whom she can respectfully disagree -- on any issue.

People who think differently than she does are either lying, laughing or not truly confronting the issues, she says.

In the ERA heyday of the late 1970s, "I got to where I preferred the debates because there wasn't any argument on the other side."

She vilified those who disagreed with her as emotional, anti-family slobs, if not pro-lesbian radicals. Her biographer recounts how Schlafly described the 90,000 pro-ERA marchers who converged for a 1978 demonstration in Washington as "a combination of federal employees and radicals and lesbians."

In 40 years of devotion to American social politics, her ideas have changed no more than her techniques. Be it an admirable steadfastness or a commitment to ignorance, she seems impervious to experience and new information. A lifetime of activism, marriage and motherhood all confirm what she expected in life as if she had been born to her philosophy.

The article goes on to chronicle how Schlafly led a fight against the effort by Congress to require companies to provide up to 18 weeks of parental leave after a couple has a baby, claiming it would be a "windfall for yuppies" who would exploit it to take vacation and how she persuaded several members of a pro-life committee planning a dinner honoring C. Everett Koop to withdraw their sponsorship because Koop had said in a television interview that pregnant women with AIDS "could" have an abortion.

It also covers her claims that "many [of Koop's] statements about AIDS are a cover-up for the homosexual community" which was coupled with her demand for AIDS testing of those holding public service or health care jobs and the banning of teachers with the virus.

The article is a case study in not only how Schlafly operates, but how the entire right-wing movement operates from that very same playbook ... even today. 

From Bad to Worse In Texas

The Texas Freedom Network was tireless in exposing Don McLeroy, Gov. Rick Perry's choice to serve as chair of the Texas State Board of Education, and chronicling his hearings and ultimate rejection by the state Senate.

But now TFN reports that Perry's choice of replacement is even worse, pointing to this San Antonio Express-News article:

Critics who engineered the recent ouster of State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, in part because of his strong religious beliefs, could end up with someone even more outspoken in her faith.

Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, who advocated more Christianity in the public square last year with the publication of her book, One Nation Under God, is among those that Gov. Rick Perry is considering to lead the State Board of Education, some of her colleagues say.

...

In a book published last year, Dunbar argued the country’s founding fathers created “an emphatically Christian government” and that government should be guided by a “biblical litmus test.” She endorses a belief system that requires “any person desiring to govern have a sincere knowledge and appreciation for the Word of God in order to rightly govern.”

Also in the book, she calls public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.”

The establishment of public schools is unconstitutional and even “tyrannical,” she wrote, because it threatens the authority of families, granted by God through Scripture, to direct the instruction of their children.

Dunbar home-schooled her own children.

TFN provides more background:

Dunbar has clearly expressed her loathing for public education in her book One Nation Under God, calling public schools a “tool of perversion,” “unconstitutional” and “tryannical.” She has also personally rejected the public school system, home-schooling her children. In fact, she wrote in her book that sending our children to public schools is “throwing them into the enemy’s flames even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.”

Just before the November election, Dunbar also authored a vicious Internet rant in which she called Barack Obama a terrorist sympathizer who wants to seize total power by declaring martial law. In another Internet screed, she charged that Obama is promoting Marxism by calling for “shared sacrifice and social responsibility.”

Perry apparently thinks that someone who homeschooled her own children because public schools are  "tool of perversion" is perfectly suited to being placed in charge of the Texas school system.

More Good News for Sotomayor

Politico has an article today reporting that Republicans are disappointed that Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court hasn't turned out to be "the political lightning rod some in their party had hoped she would be."

Of course, that just means that right-wing groups will just have to try that much harder:

Curt Levey, executive director of the conservative group Committee for Justice, said senators are often slow to get into politically thorny fights — and do so only after a passionate showing by their base. Levey said he expects GOP senators to gear up for the fight, particularly during the confirmation proceedings. And he said that he is pushing the Republicans hard to delay a final Senate confirmation vote until after the monthlong August recess, to give opposition groups enough time to spotlight any controversial statements Sotomayor makes during the hearings.

“She is sort of like a Robert Bork: She’s very opinionated, and when she should be silent, she isn’t,” Levey said.

Speaking of Bork, the Wonk Room points us to this new interview with him and, shockingly, he doesn't like Sotomayor ... or pretty much anyone else for that matter:

What are your thoughts about Judge Sotomayor's nomination?

I think it was a bad mistake. Her comments about the wise Latina suggest identity-group jurisprudence. She also has a reputation for bullying counsel. And her record is not particularly distinguished. Far from it. And it is unusual to nominate somebody who states flatly that she was the beneficiary of affirmative action. But I can't believe she will be any worse than some recent white male appointees.

Anyone you'd care to name?

I could, but you don't want the estate of these people suing me, do you?

As it's currently composed, this is sometimes called a conservative court.

I don't see it at all. It's a very left-leaning, liberal court.

Could you elaborate? Compared to what?

Well, compared to what the Constitution actually says. They tend to enact the agenda or the preferences of a group that thinks of itself as the intellectual elite.

Frankly, the fact that Bork sees nothing he likes in Sotomayor is a huge positive in her favor considering that, since his own defeat to the Supreme Court in 1987, he's become a certified crank:

Robert Bork has carved out a niche for himself as an acerbic commentator on the Supreme Court, as well as various cultural issues. In fact, to Bork the two topics are closely related and the Supreme Court’s “illegitimacy” and its departure from the Constitution are in many ways responsible for our growing “cultural depravity.”

According to Bork, we are rapidly becoming a fragmented society that has totally lost its nerve and is now either unwilling or unable “to suppress public obscenity, punish crime, reform welfare, attach stigma to the bearing of illegitimate children, resist the demands of self-proclaimed victim groups for preferential treatment, or maintain standards of reason and scholarship.” Abortion, technology, affluence, hedonism, and modern liberalism are gradually ruining our culture and everywhere you look “the rot is spreading.”

Bork has denounced the public education system that “all too often teaches moral relativism and depravity.” He considers sensitivity training to be little more than “America’s version of Maoist re-education camps.” He has shared his fear that recognition of gay marriage would lead to accommodation of “man-boy associations, polygamists and so forth.” And he has criticized the feminist movement for “intimidat[ing] officials in ways that are destructive of family, hostile to masculinity, damaging to the military and disastrous for much education.”

It appears as if almost everything within contemporary culture possesses the capacity to offend Bork. He attacks movies for featuring “sex, violence and vile language.” He faults television for taking “a neutral attitude toward adultery, prostitution, and pornography” and for portraying homosexuals as “social victims.” As for the art world, most of what is produced is “meaningless, uninspired, untalented or perverse.” He frets that the “pornographic video industry is now doing billions of dollars worth of business” and the invention of the Internet will merely result in the further indulgence of “salacious and perverted tastes.” When it comes to music, “rock and rap are utterly impoverished … emotionally, aesthetically, and intellectually.”

More to the point, Bork is not content merely to criticize; he wants the government to do something about it. “Sooner or later,” he claims “censorship is going to have to be considered as popular culture continues plunging to ever more sickening lows.” So committed is he to this cause that he dedicated an entire chapter in his 1996 book Slouching Toward Gomorrah to making “The Case for Censorship.” In it, he advocates censoring “the most violent and sexually explicit material now on offer, starting with obscene prose and pictures available on the Internet, motion pictures that are mere rhapsodies to violence, and the more degenerate lyrics of rap music.”

When asked by Christianity Today about how he would decide what should and should not be censored, Bork announced: “I don’t make any fine distinctions; I’m just advocating censorship.”

Barton Named to Texas School Board "Experts" Panel

We don't pay that much attention to the ins-and-outs of goings-on regarding the Texas State Board of Education, but the Texas Freedom Network certainly does and they report this latest development:

The Texas State Board of Education is set to appoint a social studies curriculum “expert” panel that includes absurdly unqualified ideologues who are hostile to public education and argue that laws and public policies should be based on their narrow interpretations of the Bible.

TFN has obtained the names of “experts” appointed by far-right state board members. Those panelists will guide the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. They include David Barton of the fundamentalist, Texas-based group WallBuilders, whose degree is in religious education, not the social sciences, and the Rev. Peter Marshall of Peter Marshall Ministries in Massachusetts, who suggests that California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina were divine punishments for tolerance of homosexuality.

The two have argued that the Constitution doesn’t protect separation of church and state and hold a variety of other extreme views related to religion, education and government, TFN President Kathy Miller said.

...

Barton, former vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, is a self-styled “historian” without any formal training in the field. He argues that separation of church and state is a “myth” and that the nation’s laws should be based on Scripture. He says, for example, that the Bible forbids taxes on income and capital gains. Yet even such groups as Texas Baptists Committed and the Baptist Joint Committee have sharply criticized Barton’s interpretations of the Constitution and history.

Barton also acknowledges having used in his publications and speeches nearly a dozen quotes he has attributed to the nation’s Founders even though he can’t identify any primary sources showing that they really said them.

Some state board members have criticized what they believe are efforts to overemphasize the contributions of minorities in the nation’s history. It is alarming, then, that in 1991 Barton spoke at events hosted by groups tied to white supremacists. He later said he hadn’t known the groups were “part of a Nazi movement.”

In addition, Barton’s WallBuilders Web site suggests as a “helpful” resource the National Association of Christian Educators/Citizens for Excellence in Education, an organization that calls public schools places of "social depravity" and "spiritual slaughter."

The Peter Marshall Ministries Web site includes Marshall’s commentaries sharply attacking Muslims, characterizing the Obama administration as “wicked,” and calling on Christian parents to reject public education for their children.

Marshall has also attacked Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. In his call for a spiritual revival in America last year, he called traditional mainline Protestantism an “institutionally fossilized, Bible-rejecting shell of Christianity.”

TFN also provides informative links to these documents containing more info about both Barton and Marshall, and so I'll just add links to all of our posts on Barton as well as a link to our report on him, "Propaganda Masquerading as History," for good measure.

I’m Not a Doctor, But I Play One in The NOM Ad

Via Good as You, we get this interesting follow-up to the National Organization for Marriage ad we mentioned earlier, thanks to this statement from the Human Rights Campaign setting the record straight about the claims made in the ad:

The general argument of the ad is that the push for marriage equality isn’t just about rights for same-sex couples, it’s about imposing contrary values on people of faith.  The examples they cite in the ad are:

(1)   A California doctor who must choose between her faith and her job

(2)   A member of New Jersey church group which is punished by the state because they can’t support same-sex marriage

(3)   A Massachusetts parent who stands by helpless while the state teaches her son that gay marriage is okay

The facts indicate that (1) refers to the Benitez decision in California, determining that a doctor cannot violate California anti-discrimination law by refusing to treat a lesbian based on religious belief, (2) refers to the Ocean Grove, New Jersey Methodist pavilion that was open to the general public for events but refused access for civil union ceremonies (and was fined by the state for doing so) and (3) refers to the Parker decision in Massachusetts, where parents unsuccessfully sought to end public school discussions of family diversity, including of same-sex couples.

All three examples involve religious people who enter the public sphere, but don’t want to abide by the general non-discriminatory rules everyone else does.  Both (1) and (2) are really about state laws against sexual orientation discrimination, rather than specifically about marriage.  And (3) is about two pairs of religious parents trying to impose their beliefs on all children in public schools.   

The real facts of each case are:

The California doctor entered a profession that promises to “first, do no harm” and the law requires her to treat a patient in need – gay or straight, Christian or Muslim – regardless of her religious beliefs.  The law does not, and cannot, dictate her faith – it can only insist that she follow her oath as a medical professional.

    * The New Jersey church group runs, and profits from, a beachside pavilion that it rents out to the general public for all manner of occasions –concerts, debates and even Civil War reenactments— but balks at permitting couples to hold civil union ceremonies there.  The law does not challenge the church organization’s beliefs about homosexuality – it merely requires that a pavilion that had been open to all for years comply with laws protecting everyone from discrimination, including gays and lesbians.

    * The Massachusetts parent disagrees with an aspect of her son’s public education, a discussion of the many different kinds of families he will likely encounter in life, including gay and lesbian couples.  The law does not stop her from disagreeing, from teaching him consistently with her differing beliefs at home, or even educating her child in a setting that is more in line with her faith traditions.  But it does not allow any one parent to dictate the curriculum for all students based on her family’s religious traditions. 

Even better, HRC has posted the audition tapes from those seeking parts in that ad because, as it turns out, the people in the ad aren’t actually the California doctor, the member of New Jersey church group, or the Massachusetts parent that they claim to be:

Bogus Stimulus Outcry Grows as Liberty Counsel and TVC Hop on the Bandwagon

It looks like the ACLJ’s entirely bogus attack on the stimulus bill is making its way around the right-wing hemisphere – in addition to Sen. Jim DeMint, the “drop the anti-Christian provision” call has now been taken up by the Liberty Counsel:

The highly controversial "stimulus" package is a monolithic spending bill containing language designed to stimulate the narrow interests of extreme left-wing activist organizations. The latest political payback tucked away in the estimated 1.1 trillion dollar spending bill will prove stimulating to religious censors and anti-faith groups like the ACLU.

Both the House and Senate versions contain anti-faith language that will censor religion and force people of faith from the public square … President Obama supports the package, but he could still request that Sen. Reid and Speaker Pelosi stop this blatant attack on people of faith.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: "The so-called stimulus bill will lead to the banning of all religious activity from all public facilities by forbidding the use of funds to improve any facility where religious instruction or worship occurs. In order to receive stimulus money our public schools will have to expel after-school Bible clubs and weekend religious meetings. People who want to speak about their faith will be unwelcome in public places. Apparently, President Obama's idea of faith-based initiatives is to remove faith from all initiatives."

The Traditional Values Coalition has also come out against the provision, citing the same bogus reasons:

Among the prohibited uses of “greening” funds is the “modernization, renovation or repair” of higher learning facilities where sectarian religious activities or services may be conducted. “The economic crisis is being used as a pretext to curb religious liberty at institutions of higher learning.  Religious activity is already scarce at most of our colleges, the Obama people want to make sure it is extinct.

The ultimate impact will be to drive religious activities out of public education altogether. If higher education institutions worry about not getting part of this federal grab bag, they’ll simply eject religious activities from their campuses so they can easily get the money.

By rejecting religion, these educators can also avoid costly ACLU lawsuits that will inevitably be filed. This section of the bill should be called the ACLU Full Employment Act since it will be a boon for their anti-Christian litigation.

Interesting, isn’t it, how the ACLJ’s false initial claim that religious groups would be barred from using university facilities under this provision has now expanded into a warning that Bible clubs would be expelled entirely and “all religious activity [at] all public facilities” would be forbidden.

It was a lie when the ACLJ said it, and it's even more of a lie now that Liberty Counsel and TVC are piling on with their own misrepresentations. 

It’s like watching a game of Telephone gone horribly awry as one right-wing group unleashes an absurd fabrication and then other right-wing groups pick it up and mangle it further. 

And now this "controversy" has worked its way up to Fox News:

Democrats in Congress have declared war on prayer, say conservative groups who object to a provision in the stimulus bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week.

The upside of this, at least, is that it affords those who actually know what they are talking about the opportunity to point out that the right-wing outcry is fundamentally ridiculous:

The American Civil Liberties Union also defends the constitutionality of the restriction, which they say has been the law since 1972.

"It's almost a restatement of what the Constitution requires so there's nothing novel in what the House did in its restriction," said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel to the ACLU. "For 37 years, the law of the land is that the government can't pay for buildings that are used for religious purposes."

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Public Education Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 07/30/2013, 3:27pm
Right-wing political strategists have invested huge sums in recent decades to undermine public support for public schools. MORE
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 05/09/2013, 3:16pm
Right-wing rock musician and radio host Bradlee Dean, a Michele Bachmann ally, was part of a panel on the Millennial generation at Liberty Counsel’s recent Awakening conference. Dean’s You Can Run But You Can’t Hide ministry, designated an anti-gay hate group last year by the Southern Poverty Law Center, works to bring Dean’s right-wing-values presentations into public schools. Dean – who has suggested that the federal government was behind the shootings in Sandy Hook, Aurora Springs, and Columbine, along with the Oklahoma City bombing and 9-11 – not... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 03/07/2013, 1:05pm
Religious Right leaders and anti-government ideologues have shared a decades-long dream: to dismantle public education through a system of vouchers that would divert taxpayer funds out of public schools and into religious schools and other private academies.  For some, privatizing education is primarily a religious or ideological project. For others, the billions of dollars that flow through public schools is a tempting source of cash. For some it’s both.  Whatever the incentive, voucher proponents are finding success.  A renewed push for the creation and expansion of... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 02/19/2013, 5:58pm
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... MORE
Josh Glasstetter, Monday 08/27/2012, 2:43pm
Conservative talk show host Neal Boortz, speaking at yesterday’s Unity Rally 2012 in Tampa ahead of the Republican National Convention, denounced public schools as “government schools” that are “forced upon us.” Boortz blamed “100 years of government education” for bringing America “to the point that a man like Barack Obama could be sworn in as president of the United States.” Boortz directed the crowd to change the way they speak about public schools – calling them “government schools” instead. He also called on... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/21/2012, 3:10pm
Rick Santorum raised eyebrows last week for making claims that he has been making for years, including his criticism of public schools. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Santorum called public schools “anachronistic” and compared them to factories: In his remarks to the Ohio Christian Alliance, however, Santorum went further, seeming to attack the very idea of public education. In the nation’s past, he said, “Most presidents homeschooled their children in the White House.… Parents educated their children because it was their responsibility.” “... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 10/26/2011, 4:05pm
Today on Believers Voice of Victory, David Barton told televangelist Kenneth Copeland that the only way to rejuvenate America’s education system is to instill in kids the “fear of the Lord.” Barton launched his career as a Religious Right activist with the 1989 booklet What Happened in Education?, in which he concluded that a decline in SAT scores was a result of the end of school prayer, and that only Christian teachings in schools could bring SAT scores back up. Barton explained to Copeland, a Prosperity Gospel preacher, what that instilling the “fear of the Lord... MORE