Religious Freedom

The Texas Freedom Network supports the constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state, which protects the right of all Americans to practice the faith of their choice, or none at all, free of government interference.

Unfortunately, efforts to knock down that wall are a constant in Texas. Politicians and activists continually work to impose their views on others, especially around issues like abortion and access to contraception. And in a distortion of the principle of religious freedom, far-right groups have supported legislative efforts to allow individuals to use religion as an excuse to ignore laws they might not like and even as a weapon to discriminate against others.

Resources

Prayer in Public Schools: A Primer (2001 report)

The Texas Faith-Based Initiative (2002 report)NDOP_Report_2005_Revised

A Report on The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (2005 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion: Teaching the Bible in Texas Public Schools (2006 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion II (2013 report)

Can This Class Be Saved? The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Public School Bible Curriculum (2014 report)

Primary Day on March 2 will provide a good indication of just how much Texas Republicans really respect religious freedom in America.

Republican primary voters will be able to register their opinions on five resolutions — a proposed voter identification law, a measure limiting government growth, a call for cuts in federal income taxes, a requirement forcing women seeking an abortion first to undergo and view a sonogram, and this one:

Ballot Proposition #4: Public Acknowledgement of God

The use of the word “God”, prayers, and the Ten Commandments should be allowed at public gatherings and public educational institutions, as well as be permitted on government buildings and property.

YES or NO

We wonder if, while they’re at it, Republicans will also let us know their opinions about other freedoms protected by the First Amendment: speech, press, the right of peaceful assembly and the right to petition the government.… Read More

We have seen a series of stories in the last few days about the coming debate at the State Board of Education this week on proposed new social studies curriculum standards in Texas public schools. The Austin American-Statesman yesterday looked at efforts by conservative evangelicals to require that students learn that the United States was founded as a Christian nation based on biblical principles. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram also previewed this week's meeting here. But one of the best overviews of the looming fight comes in the Texas Tribune today. The piece offers an excellent examination of the right-wing political extremism that has infected the curriculum revision process and who is behind it. (Go ahead. Guess.) Read More

We'll finish out our series on the craziness we heard from the far right in 2009 with quotes on the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The State Board of Education will hold a public hearing on the proposed new standards on January 13 in Austin. TFN Insider will be live-blogging during that hearing. Click on these links for other posts in our The Year in Quotes series: science, kooky, sex education, religious freedom, gay bashing, potluck nuttiness. Now on to social studies: "That, sir, my friend, is why I contend that there is an overrepresentation of minority content. And that’s all TEKS driven. The specific TEKS say ‘the problems of women,’ ‘the problems of immigrants,’ ‘the problems of minorities.’ There is nothing in the current TEKS that talks about celebrating America’s positive successes." - Bill Ames, a far-right member of a social studies curriculum (TEKS, or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) writing team, complaining that too many minority figures are included in history standards,  TFN Insider, May 22, 2009 "My own personal guess is that the reason (César Chávez) was included in (the Texas social studies standards) is that it reflects the leftist bias of the people who wrote the guidelines last time. I don't know; I don't know who wrote them. But I'm suspicious of that. ... In comparison with [other figures], Chávez doesn't warrant much attention. ... He's just not real high on my list." -- Peter Marshall, head of Peter Marshall Ministries and a member of the State Board of Education's panel of social studies "experts," discussing his reasoning for wanting to remove César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall (no relation) from social studies curriculum standards, Austin Chronicle, July 24, 2009 Read More

So what do religious-righters think about religious tolerance and keeping government separate from religion? More memorable quotes from 2009: "There is no dialogue, no common ground, no reaching across the aisle in this battle. We are not called to build bridges to Islam. We are called to storm the gates of hell — to defeat the false god of Islam with the unsheathed Word of God and to set people free from the monstrous tyranny and bondage of this religion birthed in the deepest pits of hell." -- The Rev. Flip Benham, director of the extremist group Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, writing about a planned gathering of American Muslims in the nation's capital on Friday, TFN Insider, September 24, 2009 Read More

From today’s TFN News Clips:

“This is a seed sowing ministry. God does the harvesting Himself.”

— Bill Spencer, a teacher and football coach in Tennessee’s Hamilton County public school district, discussing his district’s privately funded Bible education program. Spencer, who also coaches football, said he believes God called him to teach Bible history.

Stay informed with TFN News Clips, a daily digest of news about politics and the religious right. Subscribe here.Read More

Texas Freedom Network

One week to go until The Best of Sex Ed with @Owen_Egerton! A few tickets remain. Get yours here --> bit.ly/30fxG0x pic.twitter.com/EyJs…