Religious Right 'Experts' Attempt to Rewrite Texas History Standards

Church & State, September 2009 | Go to article overview

Religious Right 'Experts' Attempt to Rewrite Texas History Standards


Two Religious Right advocates have recommended sweeping changes to social studies and history standards in Texas, seeking to prod schools to teach that American government has a "biblical" basis.

David Barton, who runs the Aledo, Texas-based WallBuilders, was appointed to a curriculum advisory panel by tight-wing members of the Texas Board of Education. The same faction also appointed Peter Marshall, a minister who heads a "Christian nation" outfit in Massachusetts, and Daniel Dreisbach, a professor of public affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. (See "Texas Tall Tale," July-August 2009 Church & State.)

Neither Barton nor Marshall has legitimate credentials in this area, and Dreisbach is known as an aggressive critic of church-state separation. Barton is a self-appointed historian who holds a degree in Christian education from Oral Roberts University. He is the author of three books attacking separation of church and state.

In their recommendations, Barton and Marshall say the state's social studies standards should be altered to emphasize Christianity and insist that America's foundational documents support this view.

Barton recommends that the Declaration of Independence be taught as equal to the Constitution, even though the former is not a governance document. Students should learn, he says, that there is a God and a fixed moral law and that government exists to ensure God-given rights.

Barton also takes aim at James Madison, disputing the widely accepted view that he is the father of the Constitution.

Marshall echoes many of Barton's comments, insisting that "the motivational role of the Bible" be discussed in classrooms. He also insists that constitutional provisions, such as the separation of powers, are "rooted in the Founding Fathers' clear understanding of the sinfulness of man. …

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