A Look at the Texas Social Studies ‘Experts’

We reported in April that the creationist faction on the Texas State Board of Education was moving to pack a key “expert” review panel for the social studies curriculum revision with like-minded ideologues. (See here and here.) We now have the names of all the “expert” panelists. As with the science “expert” panel, it appears that the social studies panel will be evenly split between mainstream academics and ideologues aligned with the creationist faction.

The three mainstream academics on the panel are Jesus Francisco de la Teja of Texas State University (appointed by SBOE members Rene Nunez, D-El Paso, and Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi), Jim Kracht of Texas A&M (appointed by Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, and Bob Craig, R-Lubbock), and Lybeth Hodges (appointed by Mavis Knight, D-Dallas, and Lawrence Allen, D-Houston).

The three ideologues aligned with the board’s creationist faction are David Barton (appointed by Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, and Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio), the Rev. Peter Marshall (appointed by Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, and Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond), and Daniel Dreisbach (appointed by Terri Leo, R-Spring, and David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna).

SBOE members Don McLeroy, R-College Station; Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, R-Dallas; and Rick Agosto, D-San Antonio, were unable to come to agreement on appointing a seventh panelist.

Even a casual look at the vita for each of these “experts” makes clear grossly unequal qualifications. That examination also reveals the agenda of the board’s creationist faction: use the social studies curriculum to promote a political argument against separation of church and state.

So let’s look at each of the so-called “experts” who will guide the revision of social studies standards for an entire generation of children in Texas public schools.

Mainstream Academics
Jim Kracht is a professor of teaching, learning and culture and a professor of geography at Texas A&M University. He holds a master’s in geography and a doctorate in social studies education. He currently serves as associate dean for academic affairs in the university’s College of Education and is a senior fellow for the Gilbert Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education (Texas State University).

Jesus Francisco de la Teja is a professor and chairman of the history department at Texas State University-San Marcos. De la Teja has a master’s in Latin American history and a doctorate in colonial Latin American history. He served a two-year term as Texas State Historian until May of this year. The distinguished professor has authored three books (including high school and college textbooks), has edited seven books, and has written chapters for nine others. He has also written 11 journal articles, nine articles for encyclopedias and other reference resources, and scores of reviews, scripts and translations in other publications.  His list of lectures, awards and professional associations is similarly lengthy.

Lybeth Hodges is a professor of history and government at Texas Woman’s University, where she teaches in an honors scholars program and the College of Professional Education. Hodges has a master’s in history from TWU and a doctorate in history from Texas Tech University.

David Barton founded and heads WallBuilders, a Christian advocacy group based near Fort Worth that calls separation of church and state a myth and argues that the United States is a Christian nation that should be governed on Christian bibilical principles. Barton earned a bachelor’s degree in religious education and has two honorary doctorates from two small Christian colleges. He has authored 14 books, all self-published by his WallBuilder Press, and has written one article each for the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy and the Regent University Law Review (Pat Robertson’s university).

The Rev. Peter Marshall is a Presbyterian minister who runs Peter Marshall Ministries, which seeks “to restore America to its Bible-based foundations through preaching, teaching, and writing on America’s Christian heritage and on Christian discipleship and revival.”  Marshall has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s of divinity degree and has co-authored three books ostensibly on American history — all three from Christian book publisher Revell and marketed as part of an “America’s Christian Heritage Package” on his Web site. According to the biographical sketch he provided to the Texas Education Agency, Marshall has “done extensive research on historical periods to inspire interest by youth through fictional depictions utilizing historically accurate elements and issues.” Like Barton, Marshall believes that the U.S. Constitution does not protect separation of church and state, and he seeks to restore “America’s Christian heritage.”

Daniel Dreisbach actually brings some academic credentials to the panel, although his work and interests are very narrowly focused. Dreisbach is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C., and has earned a law degree  and a doctorate of philosophy in politics. He also serves on the faculty of the James Madison Fellowship Foundation in Washington. Dreisbach has authored seven books and written 16 chapters in other books, seven reference articles, and nearly two dozen reviews. His work and interests appear to be almost entirely focused on the role of religion in American history, society and law, and Dreisbach also argues that the Constitution does not protect separation of church and state.

As we have already reported, SBOE member Don McLeroy also sought to appoint Minnesotan Allen Quist to the panel but could not find a partner on the board to join in the appointment. Quist, who suffered a landslide defeat when he sought the 1994 Republican nomination for governor, is an anti-abortion and anti-gay crusader with no academic credentials in social studies.

In contrast, SBOE board member Tincy Miller has nominated Edward Countryman, a distinguished and award-winning professor of history at Southern Methodist University. Countryman is an accomplished historian and writer, having authored at least a half-dozen books and numerous other publications. Neither McLeroy nor Rick Agosto of San Antonio would join Miller in appointing Countryman to the panel. (Appointments require the support of two board members.)

The state board has charged the “expert” panelists with reviewing the state’s current social standards and reporting back by June 29. The panelists will also review and help guide the work of writing teams made up of teachers and others who are already working on the standards revision. The state board is scheduled to adopt the revised social studies standards in March 2010. Publishers will use those standards to write new history, geography and other social studies textbooks up for adoption in Texas two years later. Publishers often sell those same textbooks to schools in smaller states across the country. You can read more about the Texas social studies revision process here.

See more on David Barton here.

See more on Peter Marshall here.

41 thoughts on “A Look at the Texas Social Studies ‘Experts’

  1. Can anyone doubt that we are headed towards another American Civil War? Bloodshed is on the horizon in the next 50 years—mark my words. You heard it here first.

  2. Well, in view of the coming SBOE social studies fight, it pays to know the opposition. Here are some of the Joseph Goebbels basic principles of propaganda:

    1) “Propaganda must be planned and executed by only one authority.”

    2) “Credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false.”

    3) “Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans. ”

    4) “Propaganda must facilitate the displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred. ”

    5) “Black rather than white propaganda may be employed when the latter is less credible or produces undesirable effects. ”

    6) “To be perceived, propaganda must evoke the interest of an audience and must be transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium. ”

    7) “Propaganda to the home front must create an optimum anxiety level.”

  3. We can only hope that these guys are so incredibly bad and the wingnuts on the SBOE try to promote such incredibly bad revisionist history that the Legislature will have all the ammunition it needs to neuter and strip the SBOE of all its power in the next session.

    Comen on SBOE! Show us how bad your behavior can be. The worse your behavior, the shorter your lifespan.

  4. Rick Agosto could have done the right thing and supported Countryman’s nomination, giving the mainstream academics a majority. What was he thinking? And David Barton is a nationally known crank…even from this board, that was shocking news. Keep us posted, TFN, this is going to be a bumpy ride!

  5. Agosto has proven himself to only be an opportunist. He acts like he supports teachers, but pulls his support in favor of keeping the social conservatives happy. He doesn’t know and he doesn’t care about what is best for kids. You can at least respect the consistency of the wingnuts. Agosto is dangerous because he has no loyalites to anyone but himself and his financial and political ambitions.

  6. Who writes this stuff? Regardless of your views one way or the other on what the SBOE is up to, its is blatantly ignorant to claim that somebody like Peter Marshall does not bring any academic credentials to the panel. Marshall has degrees from Yale and Princeton Seminary, which is a mainstream Presbyterian seminary. At least try to be just a little fair in your assessments.

    1. Ashley,
      Actually, what we noted were the “grossly unequal qualifications” of the panelists. Marshall’s Yale degree is a bachelor’s in history from 1961. He has no formal academic training in the field since then. His degree from Princeton is a master’s of divinity. That might make him somewhat of an “expert” on religious matters, but it hardly qualifies him as a social studies “expert.” We stand by our assessment: the qualifications of the ideologues appointed to the panel compare very poorly to those of the mainstream academics who will serve on it. Marshall, Barton and Dreisbach were appointed to the panel for their political views, not their expertise in the social sciences. We think Texas kids — and taxpayers — deserve far better.

  7. Hmm. Point taken, though generally speaking I tend to think of the M.Div as conferring rather more than “somewhat” religious expertise.
    I guess my main worry though is that whereas TFN claims to represent mainstream religious thought as a counter to the politicized religious right, with which aim I am in general agreement with you, the tone of some of these news stories seems to me to trend towards hostility to religion in general – hence the down playing of very respectable M.Div degree. Still, perhaps I am being a little oversensitive on that subject. As a Texas taxpayer myself, my overall reaction to the SBOE’s antics has been one of outright disgust.

  8. Ashley, no offense, but I think you may be missing the point, to an extent. They’re downplaying an M. Div. degree for perfectly valid reasons — does it give you the expertise to speak on the topic of theology and should a person with such a degree be given respect when speaking on that issue? Of course. But it has little to no relevance when it comes to social studies and certainly doesn’t justify placing a person in a position of ‘expert’ to inform a state school board about the subject.

  9. What’s your game Ashley? Cards on the table please.

    Speaking of extreme far right wing ideologues like McLeroy, is anyone here concerned that they seem to be abandoning peaceful lunacy in favor of violent lunacy? First it was that guy last year in Knoxille, Tennessee, who packed his shotgun in a guitar case and went down to a local church to do some “liberal hunting.” Then, no matter what you might feel about Dr. Tiller personally, one of these fruitcakes decides to gun him down during the worship hour at his very protestant Lutheran Church. Now, just this afternoon, some lune decided to gun down some people in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. The lastest news stories suggest that it was an elderly white supremacist of some sort—extreme right wing idealogue again. Then, just in case you are not worried enough by this already, buzz on over to the Free Market Foundation (FMF) blog and read the written responses to the two most recent FMF news story posts. Do I detect both hatred and desperation there? Me thinks I do. If you ask me, the Democrat Congress, Democrat President, and soon to be Democrat U.S. Supreme Court has the far right on the ledge of the Empire State Building and ready to go over the edge—and some really are going over it.

  10. Ashley — I’m on the staff at TFN, and I have the same degree from the same institution that Rev. Marshall has: a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary (2002). So for entirely selfish reasons, I wouldn’t impugn his degree in any way! However, though Princeton is a very respectable school with high standards, it is nonetheless a sectarian seminary that approaches theology, doctrine and even history from an explicitly Reformed Protestant perspective. Further, I do not think the two survey courses in church history I took during my time at Princeton qualify me to write K-12 social studies standards for one of the largest public school system in the country.

    I think our original point stands – half of the experts appointed by the board meet at least a minimum standard of credibility. The others were clearly chosen not for their professional or academic credentials, but rather their ideological perspective.

  11. Thomas and Ashley:

    Just a brief note about religion and social studies. Religion is an important aspect of history and human culture in all nations. In addition, religion is a legitimate area of academic study in anthropology (my field), which is a social science. It qualifies as social studies. Therefore, I do no think there is any question as to whether religion is a legitimate issue in social studies.

    I think the question should focus on what one’s MOTIVES are when bringing religion to a secondary school social studies curriculum. For example, it would not be wrong to discuss the religious motivations of the Pilgrims in their decision to sail to a new land to do their religion their way and have some breathing room. However, I think it would be wrong to teach that the Pilgrims had the ONE TRUE CHRISTIAN FAITH that God meant to be established as dominant in the New World and that all of the apostate Catholics, Anglicans, and Methodists are prentenders who should have stayed in Europe. There’s the rub. This where the MOTIVES issue comes into the picture. Therefore, the question is what Dr. Marshall’s motives are for bringing his M. Div. to the discussion, and me thinks that those motives are less than pure and less than respectful of the Christian faith as a whole—as well as those of other faiths and no faiths.

  12. “Just a brief note about religion and social studies. Religion is an important aspect of history and human culture in all nations. In addition, religion is a legitimate area of academic study in anthropology (my field), which is a social science. It qualifies as social studies. Therefore, I do no think there is any question as to whether religion is a legitimate issue in social studies.”

    I feel that I may have spoken too broadly and in the process not made myself clear. I’m not arguing that religion is not a legitimate issue in social studies, period, end of story, though looking back at what I wrote I see how it easily could have been interpreted that way. Sorry about that. To clarify: I feel that religion is a narrow* field within social studies that doesn’t come anywhere near encompassing the field as a whole (or a large part of it), and mostly certainly won’t constitute an expertise on a large portion of the nature of the material being taught to kids. There’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking experts with knowledge in narrow areas and combining their knowledge into a larger whole, per se, but I think that when you’re dealing with a situation where you can only hire on six or seven experts that you should try to focus on those who have a broad knowledge of the field you’re discussing, if this is possible within that field. I think this is the case with social studies. I also feel that they’re picking this person for the wrong reasons.

    *I don’t mean this in a bad way. Molecular biology is a narrow field of biology, for example, but that doesn’t indicate worthlessness of any kind.

  13. I understand. If I could have called my own group of six experts, I would have sought out real individual experts with broad social studies backgrounds (concentrations in several different social studies areas). By so doing, I would have sought to bring the whole social studies enchilada to the table. I do not see anything like that with the current invitations.

  14. True, religion is an integral part of social studies. But, as a non-Christian, I am uncomfortable with bringing religion (of any flavor!) into any public school K-12 classroom. The temptation to not just teach ABOUT religion but to TEACH religion is just too great. Crossing that boundary is bound to happen, and it will happen to a captive, young impressionable audience. I wish the people who are advocating this would consider how they would feel if the tables were turned. They should ask themselves: Would I want my Christian child to be taught religion by a JEW??

    Totally off-topic: Since when did the Democratic Party become the Democrat Party? I hear this all the time: Democrat president, Democrat congress, Democrat this and that. This corruption of a party name is almost always committed by conservatives and/or Republicans and is meant somehow to be desparaging. But has the party officially changed its name? Maybe the GOP has become the Republic Party?

  15. Read Cytocop:


    I have a similar problem with “chiropractors.” The only problem there is that they are the source of their own epithetic conundrum.

    Medical doctors practice medicine.

    Chiropractors practice—get this—chiropractic. No joke. It’s not an adjective. It’s a noun.

    Try this to see how weird it really is:

    “What did you study at Johns Hopkins?”

    “I studied internal medic.”

  16. The religious social conservatives will try to “whitewash” American History. It has happened before. In 1978 there were high school American History textbooks up for adoption that had 2 pages of the Vietnam War, and one paragraph on Watergate. The last time American History textbooks were up for adoption every textbook left out the Johnstown mass suicide of 1978. (Students need to know how easily people can be brainwashed). How will they explain the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 without using the word “sex”? We need to know what is NOT in the textbooks as well as what will be in them. (2 American History textbooks in 1978 left out America’s landing on the moon)

  17. I understand what you are saying Robert, but there is another factor to consider here. They were doing this same thing in my high school in 1971, which was my year for American history. At the end of the school year, we stopped our studies with World War II.

    Being something of a history buff, I asked: “But wait. Why are we stopping here? What about the cession of China, Truman, the Korean War, Francis Gary Powers, the Cuban Missile Crisis?

    Teacher’s Answer: “Aw!!! All of that is what they call “CURRENT EVENTS.” That is not really considered to be American history. That’s why we don’t teach the last 25 years or so.”

    They may still be doing that.

  18. I think the far right wing view of social studies teaching will come to an end with the death of the Baby Boom conservatives within the next 20 years. That would be people of my generation. For those of you who were born after 1964 and find the current conservative position puzzling, I would like to help you better understand it. For those of you who do not like my super-long posts, I will try to brief.

    From 1959 to 1971, my public schools fed me a sugar-coated view of American history and the great individuals in American history. The view here is that the purpose of American history is not to inform children about the past but rather to build within the young a patriotic fervor SO STRONG that they will blindly follow whoever is leading. It is harder to get people to do that when the memory of past American leaders and events is marked by normal human frailty, moral shortcomings, and occasional failures. This is intolerable to the far right because they envision a world where the United States is in a forever-continuing shooting war with the rest of the world over their view of American ideals. In ther view, each generation must have millions of young soldiers who will hit the battlefield certain in the perfection of their country and thus unwilling to question why their country is forever at war. In short, the primary purpose of a social studies curriculum should be to propagandize American children.

    Therefore, to our children, we must speak volumes about the wisdom and patriotism of Benjamin Franklin, but we must never talk about his estranged son who openly and bitterly opposed the American Revolution and ended up living in England after the war and not speaking to his father again for the rest of his life. We must also never speak of the fact that Benjamin Franklin had the sexual morals of an alley cat during his role as special diplomatic envoy to France during the war. Children would not fight blindly for their country if they knew that all of this was happening.

  19. Well, I didn’t finish making my point. For those few far right conservatives who actually think (if you can call it that), the above is the basic party line. To the far right Main Street conservative who never thinks, which is most of them, the equation is a little more simplistic:

    “I was fed sugar-coated American history. They are not doing that anymore. Something is wrong. We need to get back to teaching the same sugar-coated American history that I was taught. Then all will be right with the world.”

  20. Professional anti-historian David Barton shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near social studies standards in any state whatsoever until he cleans up his act. He is notorious for his use of manufactured quotations attributed to the founding fathers to bolster his counter-factual positions. Peter Marshall is the author of a series of books that appear to be aimed at children fictionalizing the history of the United States in an over-simplified sort of way and from what appears to be a Christian Nation perspective (I base this on the samples available online). Unless he has some serious credentials not mentioned here he has no business pronouncing on social studies standards.

    When I had American history in high school (1967-8) we covered a great deal of post world war II material including the wars in Korea and Vietnam and the civil rights movement.

  21. I’m glad you got more history sbh.

    It would have been more problematical to do that in my small southern town, which consisted mostly of low-wage blue collar workers and store clerks who were ruled over by a cabal of lawyers, doctors, educators, and big-church pastors in town. Opposition to the Viet-Nam War was frowned upon. I doubt that any teacher would have been brave enough to fully discuss the subject in class. Child gets offended in class by antiwar statements. Child complains to parent. Parent complains to teacher. Teacher complains to Principal. Principal talks to pastor. Pastor talks to Manager at Acme Widgets. Manager at Acme Widgets fires teacher’s husband.

    It was that kind of place, and I can understand it some. People were still angry about the outcome of the Civil War. My mother was a person who sat on her uncle’s knee while he recounted his participation and wounds at the Battle of Shiloh. It was still a first-hand thing with living people long after it had been willfully forgotten in New York. My town was occupied by Union forces early in the war. A few years ago, they found an old diary written by a teenage girl who had lived in town during the occupation. This girl had written detailed accountings of all of the summary executions of teenage boys and other acts of terrorism that seemed to be committed daily by the occupying Union forces. Since that time and at least partially because of the diary, historians have concluded that the Union commander in charge of our town was some sort of renegade sadist who would have felt more at home in Buchenwald than Chillicothe, Ohio.

    I guess my point there is that when a population is subjected to something like that, they establish relationships and means of social control that try to preserve what the community values while accounting for the dangers of the sadist authorities over them—and maybe after 100 years—it evolves into a local governmental/social system that works like the one I described for 1971.

  22. No matter the subject the extreme fundos on this board are trying to change our educational system into a theocracy, of course, using their biblical interrpretation as the constitution. As a consequence we should expect their consistent response. In other words, when one has only a hammer every fastener becomes a nail. The behavior is predictable and should be transparent to their bosses. But no, the dominance of party loyalty proved to be the most important factor in their decisions. But what is most deplorable is that the “straight” repubs abandoned reason and paid homage to the fundos in the legislature.
    Absolutely retrograde behavior. So why would we expect any difference when the subject is social studies? History is what the panel says it is? The many advantages of socialism? The REAL effect of religion on social development? There apparently are no excusionary rules on the picking of OBJECTIVE experts for panels which will influence our childrens education and affect their future. What chaos occures when our rules let supernturalism (fantasy) in the door.

  23. Charles: Thank you for the link to Democrat Party. Yep, I suspected as much about its use. And thank you too because I didn’t think anyone read my posts here. Oh well….

    Sounds like I am of the same generation as you. I grew up in a suburb of a major northern city. At the time, the suburb was all-white, all third-or-more-generation American, and all either Roman Catholic or mainstream Protestant. The U.S. history we were taught in my public schools was pretty much restricted to that of the WASPS in America. Nobody else was mentioned much – except enslaved Africans. Nobody found it embarrassing that our founding fathers owned slaves. It was just accepted. Very little mention of anyone who participated in the American Revolution other than those who were WASPS. Therefore, of course, Lafayette, Pulaski, von Steuben, Kosciouszko – not being Anglo-Saxon Protestants – were given, only brief honorable mention despite the fact that the Americans probably would have lost the Revolution without their aid. Not mentioned at all were the several thousand enslaved blacks who fought in the Revolution. Nor was Haim Solomon, a JEW (EWWW!!!). He too was ignored despite the fact that he practically funded the Revolution.

    Native Americans got a couple of lines (because of Thanksgiving, of course), and there was another line later mentioning how they “hindered” the settling of the West.

    So yes, I hear you, Charles, on your perception of the teaching of U.S. history.

    Thank goodness though I think things are changing for the better. I think history texts are becoming more multi-ethnic and cross-cultural; acknowledging that people of many different creeds and colors have built and shaped the U.S.

  24. They have Cytocop. I live in a small town where the big business is BIG science. It is very unlike the town where I grew up, which was 99.44 percent WASP. We have people from all over the world in the town where I live now. In a line at the grocery store, the guy in front of you can be from China and the two guys in back of you are having a conversation in Russian. The lady that owns an old diner near the center of town is from China, but the locals who love her food call her “Betty.”

    All I would say to the conservatives on the SBOE is this, “Take a good luck at my town because it is what your town is going to look like in 50 years or less.” People get ready. There’s a train that’s a comin’…

  25. Nice to see that TFN can reload its barrels with another round of scare tactics. You all crying theocrats is way, way more pathetic than when the Bush administration cried “terrorists.”

  26. Cecile’s Pool Boy: In the interest of losing the pathos, what would you prefer these people be called?

  27. It seems that Ashley Heath will be the Larry Faraman/Science Minded of Social Studies???

  28. just a question from someone who has been out in the big bend for a couple of weeks, and hasn’t followed the sboe action…..are these so called experts receiving remuneration from the state of texas?……will they be individuals consultants, or contract employees through their captive 501 (c) 3 conduit…..what state agency will do the administrative contracting?

    1. WMK — Those serving on the expert review panels participate on a volunteer basis – no remuneration from the state.

  29. The opinions of the experts are posted in entirety on the TEA website. It is amazing to me to see some of the experts nitpick the names of women and minorities out of the TEKS and then jump up and down naming names they would like to see instead. If they would carefully read the entire document, they would see that almost all of the names that they would want to see are ALREADY there. Just because Amelia Earhart is listed as an innovator doesn’t mean that in another grade level Thomas Edison isn’t.

  30. These panelists are every bit as qualified as the individuals who constitute the Texas Supreme Court. ..bittersweet lol

  31. Charles,
    You obviously have way too much time on your hands. I would suggest that you get a job and drop the paranoid delusion that the belief in a God will make you violent. The people that you refer to, are obviously deranged and do not represent the vast number of religious people in this country so quit trying to make it seem so. The fact is, this country was founded on religious principles and will remain so!

  32. n 1797, six years after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the United States government signed a treaty with the Muslim nation of Tripoli that contained the following statement (numbered Article 11 in the treaty):
    As the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen; and as the states never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mohometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever produce an interruption of harmony existing between the two countries. Negotiated by Joel Barlow, who was a good friend of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and James Monroe. Affirmed during the Adams administration. See http://www.sullivan-county.com/bush/misquote1.htm.
    Jefferson:”Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”

  33. Can anyone doubt that we are headed towards another American Civil War? Bloodshed is on the horizon in the next 50 years—mark my words. You heard it here first.

    Charles, please stop making things worse than they already are with statements like that. Get off of your ass and vote progressive candidates into public office or get active even more than you are now.

  34. Here’s a few more – I wonder who will be scrubbed next. My bet is on Franklin. The kite flying story is ripe for divine intercession.

    “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise….During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.”

    -James Madison

    “I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!”

    -John Adams

    “It is much to be lamented that a man of Franklin’s general good character and great influence should have been an unbeliever in Christianity, and also have done as much as he did to make others unbelievers”

    – Joseph Priestly, on Benjamin Franklin

    “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Protestant church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my church. ”

    -Thomas Paine

    great website http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?id=6177

    the worst part is that I am deeply religious and was educated (very well!) in private catholic schools. These are not experts, they are Pharisees…..