Anything here sound familiar?

A prominent religious leader is now attacking the study of social sciences, saying it “promotes doubts and uncertainty” and “secularism.”

A new development in the growing debate over social studies curriculum standards in Texas public schools? Well, not exactly. The religious leader noted above is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the “supreme leader” of Iran’s theocratic government. According to a story in the New York Times, Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are suggesting “that the study of secular topics and ideas has made universities incubators for the political unrest unleashed after the disputed presidential election in June.”

“Many of the humanities and liberal arts are based on philosophies whose foundations are materialism and disbelief in godly and Islamic teachings,” Ayatollah Khamenei said at a gathering of university students and professors on Sunday, according to IRNA, the state news agency. Teaching those “sciences leads to the loss of belief in godly and Islamic knowledge.”

All of this comes as far-right ideologues helping guide the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools are insisting that students learn the United States is a Christian nation and that the Founders intended our society and laws to be based on the Bible.

Peter Marshall, a right-wing evangelical minister appointed to a panel of social studies “experts,” has been particularly vocal about where he wants to take the social studies standards, telling the Wall Street Journal:

“We’re in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America, and the record of American history is right at the heart of it.”

Marshall has argued that the current social studies standards in Texas fail to explain the country’s biblical origins:

“(T)he discovery, settling, and founding of the colonies happened because of the Biblical worldviews of those involved. Only when this is taken into account can America’s founding be properly understood.”

David Barton, also a so-called “expert” on the same social studies panel with Marshall, calls the separation of church and state a “myth.” Barton — founder and head of the Christian-right group WallBuilders — argues that the current standards fail to note the Godly foundations of American government. He claims there is a “war on God in America” and even says labor laws and progressive taxation violate biblical mandates.

We are reminded of something Sandra Day O’Connor said after she left the U.S. Supreme Court. She was asked about the relationship between religion and government and replied that separation of church and state had been very good for the United States:

“I do think we’re lucky in this country. We have generally kept religion a matter of individual conscience and not a matter for the prosecutor or bureaucrat. . . . Why should we trade our system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?”

We agree.

2 thoughts on “Hmmm…

  1. Some of the founding fathers appeared to have been; in particular, Madison, godfather of both our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. However, Madison had a high degree of sophistication in his religion, an understanding of history, and his experience with Anglican persecution of Presbyterians and (hah) Baptists in Virginia during his childhood. Thus, he wrote the Constitution with the view that no single human institution – even a religious institution – could be allowed to be a single point of failure.

    Even the Christians did not trust the Churches.

    I’ll also note as an incidental that the last (1803) Madison quote on the page David links appears bogus. Poking Google Book search, it doesn’t look to date any earlier than 1990, if that; however, there appears to be an on-line edition of James Madison’s writings if someone would care to look further.