Troubling Textbooks: Americans United Takes Aim at Arizona Charter School Books That Preach Bogus 'Christian Nation' Doctrines, Bad History and Racism

By Boston, Rob | Church & State, September 2014 | Go to article overview

Troubling Textbooks: Americans United Takes Aim at Arizona Charter School Books That Preach Bogus 'Christian Nation' Doctrines, Bad History and Racism


Boston, Rob, Church & State


W. Cleon Skousen had some unusual views about the origins of the American republic.

According to Skousen, a former FBI agent and university professor who died in 2006, America's founders modeled the nation on the tribes of ancient Israel. He also believed that the U.S. Constitution was anchored in the scriptures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and that only the Mormon faith could save America from destruction.

Skousen's ideas about America's origins don't hold up well to even casual examination. Ancient Israel, for example, was a theocratic state based on rule by kings--a far cry from the form of government that emerged in the new American nation.

Other Skousen views are equally odd--and offensive. He parroted a neo-Confederate line on the history of the Civil War and quoted approvingly from an essay that portrayed the war as an aggressive move by the North. In the essay's version of things, slaves labored cheerfully in the fields and were often envied by whites.

Native Americans fare little better. As Skousen tells it, they were removed from areas they had occupied for centuries as "a matter of providential justice." He says they had little to complain about as they were relocated to lands rich in minerals.

Skousen embraced traditional gender roles, arguing that men should protect women and oversee family life. He also hawked numerous conspiracy theories about the United Nations. Skousen believed the UN was using the Soviet Union as a pawn to establish one-world government.

If all of this weren't enough, Skousen has also been accused of being an anti-Semite. One of Skousen's books bemoans America's role in ending the Holocaust.

Although he published a lot of material, Skousen is today known mainly for two books: The 5,000 Year Leap (1981) and The Making of America (1982). Both books might have faded away into obscurity had it not been for Glenn Beck. The former Fox News host and Tea Party favorite began promoting Skousen's work in 2007. The 5,000 Year Leap subsequently topped many bestsellers lists, and the Skousen tome became a Bible to the Tea Party.

None of this would be directly relevant to advocates of church-state separation except for one thing: The books have worked their way into at least one public school, a situation Americans United is working to remedy.

AU attorneys wrote to officials at the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools in June, asking them to investigate Heritage Academy, a Mesa-based charter school that uses Skousen's books in its curriculum.

The letter, sent June 24, represents Americans United's second attempt to stop this, violation. AU attorneys wrote to the board last year, but officials at the school insisted that the books were appropriate for use.

"These books push 'Christian nation' propaganda and other religious teachings on impressionable young students," said Alex J. Luchenitser, associate legal director of Americans United. "They have no place in a public school curriculum."

The letter cites specific examples from The 5,000 Year Leap and The Making of America. It points out that The 5,000 Year Leap asserts that nonbelievers are "irrational" and that parts of it read like a religious tract. One section of the book is titled "How Can One Know There Is a God?"

Other sections of the tome are titled "Concerning God's Revealed Law Distinguishing Right from Wrong" and "The Nearness of God."

Charter schools, Americans United pointed out, are taxpayer-funded institutions. They are required to respect the separation of church and state.

"Because the two books clearly promote and endorse specific religious views and ideologies, we ask you to remove The 5,000 Year Leap and The Making of America from Heritage Academy's curriculum," wrote AU to Arizona education officials. "We further request that you ensure that Heritage Academy's history and government classes not be taught in a manner that is similar to the instruction in the two books or that otherwise promotes or endorses religion. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Troubling Textbooks: Americans United Takes Aim at Arizona Charter School Books That Preach Bogus 'Christian Nation' Doctrines, Bad History and Racism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.