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Oh, Kansas. Why must you share our suffering so?

As Texans with our own dysfunctional and often wacky State Board of Education, it’s easy for us to sympathize with Kansans, who are facing elections to their own tenuously sane state board this year.

Unfortunately, Kansans won’t have many of the moderates currently leading the board to re-elect, as they are stepping down — and far-right politicians and interest groups are ravenous to regain control by picking up the moderates’ seats.

Out of the five seats up for election this year (the board is composed of ten members total), two races have candidates who are explicitly far to the right of the mainstream: Republicans Dennis Hedke, Alan Detrich and Robert Meissner (who’s a dentist; what’s with dentists on state boards of education?). Hedke is involved with the conservative Americans for Prosperity’s tour touting “global warming alarmism.” Meissner is . . . well, let’s just let him speak for himself:

“As stated in the past, if the science community can come to a consensus as to the scientific credibility of alternative theories as to origin, then I would… Read More

Subscribers to TFN Daily News Clips (subscription is free) have been reading more about San Antonio mega-pastor John Hagee in recent months. Hagee has been an increasingly influential leader in the religous-right movement and in building evangelical support for Israel through his Christians United for Israel group. Then shortly after he endorsed Republican presidential candidate John McCain this spring, bloggers and other journalists publicized numerous anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic statements Hagee has made in the past. McCain hesitated, then rejected Hagee’s support. Now, writes TIME magazine, Jewish groups who welcome support for Israel are also sorting through their relationship with Hagee.

Writer Frederck Clarkson takes a look at Hagee’s “scramble to recover the mainsream legitimacy that he and his organization have so stunningly lost in recent months.” The question is whether or not Hagee’s attempt at an “extreme makeover” will work.… Read More

The Houston Chronicle has an excellent wrap up of last Friday’s decision by the State Board of Education to adopt vague, very general guidelines for public school Bible classes in Texas. TFN Daily News Clips includes links to other stories about the state board’s action. (Click here to subscribe to TFN Daily News Clips. News Clips offers a convenient digest of news articles and editorials involving religious freedom, civil liberties and public education.)

As we have reported, the state board refused to give local school districts specific curriculum standards that would guide them in developing legally appropriate and academically useful classes about the Bible’s influence in history and literature. (For more background on the issue, click here.) The legal fallout from the board’s decision will come later as local school districts struggle with how to develop these courses on their own.

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released a report in 2006 that details what already happens… Read More

  As we feared, the Texas State Board of Education today voted 10-5 to adopt vague, very general guidelines for Bible classes that public schools may teach as electives throughout the state. Read here for background about the issue. The Texas Freedom Network has also released two statements to the press. 

Statement from TFN Deputy Director Ryan Valentine Read More

Some have asked why the Texas Freedom Network supported legislation last year on elective courses about the Bible in the state's public high schools. We agree with many scholars, teachers and clergy from our Texas Faith Network that the Bible has been so influential in history and literature that these classes can be, if taught appropriately, a valuable addition to a high school elective curriculum. In addition, federal courts have made it clear that local schools may choose to teach such courses. To pass court muster, they must be neutral and academic in nature and neither promote nor disparage religion. But we are not naive. Read More

Texas Freedom Network

This year the state took a step forward when the Texas State Board of Education finally -- finally! -- acknowledged that slavery was the central cause of the Civil War. Some people don't like to move forward: bit.ly/2GaDXFa #txlege

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