“Christians Need Not Apply”

by TFN

That is the title of a new screed by SBOE Rep. Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio. According to Mercer, the Senate is blocking the nomination of Don McLeroy as board chair not because his tenure has been an unmitigated disaster, but because McLeroy is — you guessed it — a Christian.

It is official; conservative Christians are unqualified and need not apply. It happened at the Miss USA Pageant and then at the Nominations Committee of the Texas State Senate.

(First of all, Mercer deserves credit for coming up with the most apt comparison to date for the level of intellectual debate at the Texas SBOE — a beauty pageant. The uninformed, vapid discourse at the board resembles nothing so much as a room full of beauty pageant contestants confidently asserting opinions on politics or world affairs. And both ellicit similar snickers and groans from the audience.)

But on to Mercer’s primary contention. Let’s unpack this a bit. Mercer and other self-described social conservatives on the board have regularly and vigorously insisted that their actions are NOT religiously motivated. Mercer does it again here:

As is obvious to all, there are zero references to faith, religion, creation, or intelligent design in the newly adopted Science standards.

But he goes on to insist that McLeroy is being attacked because of his faith! So senators should support McLeroy because he’s a good Christian?

Mercer wants it both ways here. He wants to drape McLeroy in the mantle of Christianity, holding him up as a Christian freedom fighter who is “willing to clearly and calmly state and stand by [his] Christian beliefs.”  But should anyone follow up with the obvious question about whether McLeroy or the board is attempting to use their authority to advance personal beliefs in public policy, Mercer cries “religious discrimination” and slanders those who oppose McLeroy as God-haters. (It is “atheists and secular humanists” who are attacking him!)

This is an example of the most cynical and corrosive use of faith — as a political weapon to divide people. Not to mention there is a litany of reasons to question McLeroy’s competence that have nothing to do with religion. (Just ask the state’s English-Language Arts teachers.)

The mere fact that it is ONLY the most extreme voices on the religious right that have ridden to McLeroy’s — and the SBOE’s — defense is instructive. The silence from mainstream academics, professional educators and moderate lawmakers is deafening.

For those who can stifle their gag reflex, Mercer’s full piece appears below.

Liberals Make It Official – Christians Need Not Apply

It is official; conservative Christians are unqualified and need not apply. It happened at the Miss USA Pageant and then at the Nominations Committee of the Texas State Senate.

Miss California and USA finalist Carrie Prejean was asked by judge Perez Hilton, an openly gay gossip blogger, whether she believed in gay marriage.  Prejean responded “We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

Keith Lewis, the co-director of the Miss California USA, told FoxNews.com: “I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss California believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman.”

Prejean could have publicly denied her faith when presented this politically and religiously biased question. Instead, she stood by her values and perhaps lost the crown.

On Wednesday April 22, the Nominations Committee of the Texas Senate held a hearing to confirm Dr. Don McLeroy (R- College Station) as Chairman of the State Board of Education (SBOE).

McLeroy chaired the SBOE as conservatives won numerous battles including explicit phonics, grammar, usage, spelling, expository and persuasive writing, research-writing, back-to-basics math, and new world-class science standards that allow students the freedom to ask questions in a classroom.

Democrats promised the media “fireworks” at the McLeroy hearing; but instead, the Democrats threw “bombs” that did not focus on qualifications, fairness, integrity, or leadership.  Instead, the issue turned to that of personal faith and values especially regarding the theory of evolution.

Liberal activists and evolutionists, including Kathy Miller of the left-leaning Texas Freedom Network, and anthropolgist, Dr. Wetherington of Southern Methodist University spoke in opposition to McLeroy’s nomination.

Miller referred to McLeroy is “a really nice man.”  Wetherington added that Mcleroy “always treated me fairly” and was “always fair in concucting all public testimony.”

Attorney Jonathan Saenz, reminding the Senate of the testimony of McLeroy’s opposition, stated: “Don McLeroy bent over backwards to be fair.” Saenz stated he believes the attacks are based on McLeroy’s personal religious convictions.

The Senate Nominations Committee was advised that all SBOE hearings are recorded and that the science experts who testified agreed publicly that Texas now has “world-class standards” for each area of science including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science.

The only concern verbalized by McLeroy’s opposition was that he wanted Texas students to have the freedom to discuss and question scientific theories honestly, including evolution.

But the affirming bi-partisan testimony of McLeroy’s fairness and integrity as SBOE chairman did not convince Democrat Senators. For example, one read a statement on creation attributed to McLeroy made at Grace Bible Church in College Station.

McLeroy replied, “Well, that’s what I teach my 4th grade Sunday school class.”  When prompted again he responded: “That is my personal belief.”

McLeroy correctly noted that his personal faith in no way impacted the adoption of the science standards. Anyone who doubts his statement is free to review online the new “world-class standards” posted at www.TEA.State.Tx.us.   As is obvious to all, there are zero references to faith, religion, creation, or intelligent design in the newly adopted Science standards (TEKS).

Were Democrat Senators attempting to force McLeroy to deny his faith publicly?  Do conservative convictions, despite evidence of one’s tolerance and integrity, disqualify a Christian from public office?

Ronnie Killough wrote to the SBOE:

“I wanted to write to you [McLeroy] and express my sincerest appreciation to you for having the courage to stand by your convictions during your recent hearing.  It is unfortunately rare, today, to see anyone willing to clearly and calmly state and stand by their Christian beliefs, particularly in the face of abuse such as what you took.”

Democrats never questioned the overwhelming presence and impact of Texas and California atheists and secular humanists who testified frequently during the public hearings on the Science TEKS. The only religious philosophy on the minds of the Democrat Senators was that of Dr. Don  McLeroy’s.

It will be interesting to see which Senators vote against Dr. Don McLeroy’s nomination. The public who recognizes and dislikes religious discrimination will be watching.

Hon. Ken Mercer
Member: Texas State Board of Education
P.O. Box 781301  San Antonio, Texas  78278-1301