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by TFN

Weekly newspapers often do a good job covering complex topics because reporters have the time and space to research and develop their stories. The Fort Worth Weekly offers a good example this week. If you want a broad examination of the debate over new science curriculum standards and what Texas public school students should learn about evolution, this article by writer Laurie Barker James is a an excellent primer. James takes the reader through the debate and the consequences that lie ahead for Texas if religious extremists on the State Board of Education succeed in undermining instruction on evolution. The crux of the controversy: whether creationists on the state board will succeed in forcing science teachers to tell students the evolution is "just a theory" that is riddled with "weaknesses." Never mind, of course, that creationists are distorting what "theory" means in science. And don't bother trying to remind them that mainstream scientists have repeatedly debunked creationist-fabricated "weaknesses" of the theory of evolution. They don't care. Read More

The following article by Frederick Clarkson is crossposted with permission from Talk to Action. One of the major tactics in the political development of the Religious Right over the past few decades has been abuse of the IRS non-profit tax code which, simply put, proscribes electioneering by 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, including churches. Recently, the Alliance Defense Fund, the Scottsdale, AZ-based headquarters for the Religious Right's strategic legal ininitiatives, has encouraged mass law breaking by Religious Right-aligned churches in the run up to the 2008 elections. Not content to have one church do it as a test case challenge to the constitutionality of the law, they want to get maximum political impact along the way. The main event will be high profile political sermons on September 28th preached in as many churches as they can get. Read More

So-called “maverick” Republican presidential candidate John McCain skewered religious-right leaders in 2000 as “agents of intolerance.” Yet he has spent the past year groveling for support from religious-right pooh-bahs like the Rev. Rod Parsley of Ohio and the Rev. John Hagee of San Antonio. Of course, McCain was finally forced to repudiate Parsley and Hagee because of their hateful diatribes against Muslims, Jews and Roman Catholics. But when McCain floated the possibility that he might choose a vice presidential nominee who supports abortion rights, religious-right leaders made it crystal clear that they would find such a decision unacceptable. So his surprise choice today of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the GOP vice presidential nomination looks like a total surrender to the religious right.

First, Palin is an opponent of gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion, according to the Washington Post:

On her campaign Web site, she described herself as a “conservative Republican” who believes firmly in free market capitalism, as well as a “lifetime member of the NRA” with a strong commitment to gun rights. She also said she opposes abortion and believes that “marriage should only be… Read More

We told you earlier this week how Gov. Rick Perry has employed a disturbing mix of faith and militancy in a note to conservative evangelical pastors. Gov. Perry wrote the note in an invitation for pastors to attend a Texas Restoration Project event in Austin next month. The governor isn’t the only person linked to the Texas Restoration Project who dips into the rhetorical well of militant Christianity. Another prominent speaker at the far-right group’s events has been the Rev. Rod Parsley of Ohio, who has said the mission of a Christian United States is to destroy Islam. Republican presidential candidate John McCain welcomed Parsley’s support earlier this year, calling him a “spiritual guide.” But Parsley’s rhetoric has been so incendiary that McCain was finally forced to distance himself from the Ohio pastor. For a taste of that red-hot rhetoric, see the video clip below. (McCain’s repudiation of Parsley came later.) [youtube=] You can read more about Parsley here and here and about his connection with the Texas Restoration Project in a Texas Freedom Network Education Fund report here. Gov. Perry, who claimed in his invitation to pastors that…… Read More

The Texas Freedom Network has released the following statement following today’s opinion from Attorney General Greg Abbott that House Bill 1287 does not require public school districts to offer elective courses about the Bible.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said today that the state’s public school districts are not required to offer courses about the Bible. Note that this opinion takes on extra significance since the State Board of Education last month refused to adopt clear, specific curriculum standards required by the Legislature. Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said the attorney general’s ruling correctly interpreted the Legislature’s intent that school districts have the option to offer or not offer these elective classes. Miller said:

“Local school boards can now breathe a sigh of relief. The State Board of Education threw them under the bus last month by refusing to adopt the clear, specific standards schools need to give the Bible the respect it deserves and help them stay out of court. Now schools won’t be required to maneuver through a legal minefield without a map.”

The attorney general’s ruling is available here.

For background on this topic, click here.… Read More

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