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 have attempted to impose their views on others on 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.

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The Latest on Church & State

What are Texas students learning in their public school courses about the Bible? Here’s an excerpt from instructional materials used in Bible courses taught in two school districts:

The long-discredited claim that racial diversity today can be traced back to Noah’s sons — and particularly the supposed link between his cursed son Ham and “African races” — was a justification for slavery and has been a foundational component of racism. The two Texas school districts don’t appear to tie this concept to slavery and racist ideology, but it’s stunning that this “theory” of racial origins is part of instructional materials used in any classroom today.

Read more here about a new Texas Freedom Network Education Fund report on the widespread problems in public school Bible courses in Texas — Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011-12, authored by Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Our previous reports on public school Bible classes are here and here.… Read More

In 2007 the Texas Legislature passed a law encouraging the state’s public schools to teach about the influence of the Bible in history and literature. Schools can do that either by weaving such instruction into existing social studies and literature courses, or they can create full courses about the Bible. Today the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released a report, authored by a religious studies professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, that examines what students are learning in the 57 school districts and three charter schools that teach Bible courses. Examples from Texas public schools:… Read More

Whether on prayer in public schools or creationism in science classrooms, we heard plenty from politicians and activists who see no problem mixing religion and state. Our review of what the far right had to say in 2012 continues. You can read more quotes from 2012 and previous years here.

“In 1962 we kicked prayer out of the schools. In 1963 we kicked God’s word out of ours schools. In 1980 we kicked the Ten Commandments out of our schools. We’ve kicked God out of our public school system. And I think God would say to us, ‘Hey, I’ll be glad to protect your children, but you’ve got to invite me back into your world first. I’m not going to go where I’m not wanted. I am a gentleman.'”

— The always-thoughtful and compassionate (NOT) spokesperson of the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, blaming the Connecticut school shootings on there being no government-forced prayer in public schools

“To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square… Read More

It didn’t take long for religious-righters to use the horrifying tragedy in Connecticut last week as another opportunity to bash America for supposedly ignoring God. Today, for example, a Texas-based group with too many names — Liberty Institute presently, formerly Free Market Foundation, and now with a special offshoot called Texas Values — proclaimed its agreement with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s assessment of the murder of 20 young children and a half-dozen educators in a Connecticut school. Speaking on his Fox News show this weekend, Huckabee suggested that the shooting happened because America has been too busy “escorting” God “out of our culture” and the public square. Liberty Institute’s Facebook post today:

“Where was God during the Connecticut shooting? Liberty Institute agrees with Mike Huckabee, and we will continue to stand up for those who believe this should still be one nation under God.”

The group’s Facebook post then links to a video clip (see below) from Huckabee’s December 15 show. Here’s an extended excerpt from what Huckabee said (emphasis added):

“For 50 years we’ve systematically attempted to have God removed from our schools, our public activities, but then at the… Read More

We’ll give this to him: he’s persistent.

On the first day (today) that lawmakers can file bills for the 2013 session of the Texas Legislature, state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, has proposed a bill — House Bill 49 — requiring public high school students to take a course on the U.S. Constitution. Seems reasonable? Of course — except that high schools already teach such a course: U.S. Government.

Flynn filed the same bill in 2011, and it went nowhere. Lawmakers didn’t seem to see much value in having school districts repeat something they already teach in another course (especially while Flynn and other legislators were voting to slash billions of dollars in funding for public education at the same time).

Flynn has also filed House Bill 51, which would bar local school districts from prohibiting the posting of the Ten Commandments “in a prominent location in a district classroom.” The same bill (filed by Flynn) also went nowhere last session. Perhaps Flynn should study up on the Constitution himself — especially the part about no government establishment of religion.… Read More