Publishers Make Creationist, Anti-Muslim Changes To Pass Religious Right Litmus Test
Austin, TX Texas textbook publishers have made public the changes they agreed to make to Social Studies texts in response to comments during this year’s public hearing process.
Changes made at the request of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum and Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy members, for example, will delete passages that describe Islam positively, eliminate scientific dates so as not to conflict with Biblical timelines, delete sections on other cultures, and eliminate critical thinking exercises that discuss social issues.
The changes have drawn criticism from a watchdog group concerned that publishers are censoring material to pass what they call a Religious Right litmus test.
“These are not changes called for by the mainstream public, but by a handful of religious extremists,” said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog group that monitors public education issues.
“In Texas, the radical right can credibly threaten to ban a textbook if a publisher won’t agree to make the changes they demand,” said Smoot. Smoot cited the Board’s rejection last fall of environmental science texts that had not been changed to the Religious Right’s specifications.
“Instead of standing guard and protecting the thoroughness and accuracy of textbooks, some publishers are now caving in to pressure from a handful of very noisy would-be censors,” said Smoot.
One volunteer reviewer, University of Texas professor Andrew Riggsby, read Out of Many, a textbook criticized by Religious Right groups and subsequently dropped from consideration to avoid public opposition from the Religious Right.
Riggsby criticized the effort to ban or alter books challenged by the Religious Right, saying “Publishers ought to be looking at their books and thinking ‘is this true?’ Instead, they have to go sentence by sentence asking ‘can the Eagle Forum take this out of context and use it as a sound bite?’”
“The Religious Right successfully convinced the Board to ban a book last year. They convinced publishers to withdraw books already this year – before the public hearing process. Now they’re demanding textbook changes to suit their religious and political beliefs,” said Smoot. “This is censorship, plain and simple.”
PUBLISHERS AGREED TO MAKE CHANGES FOR THE FAR RIGHT…
Publisher agreed to CHANGE any references to events “millions of years ago” to instead read “in the distant past” or “over time” so as not to have ancient geological events predate Biblical timelines. (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill response to Robert Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)
Publisher agreed to “eliminate the references to fossil fuels being formed millions of years ago” so as not to conflict with Biblical timelines. (Harcourt response to Margie Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)
Publisher agreed to ADD “information about the resurrection of Jesus…[as well as] Christianity’s appeal.” (Prentice Hall response to Becky Armstrong, Eagle Forum, 8/7/02)
Publisher agreed to ADD text reading “Locke believed that God created people who all, equally, had certain rights. To deny people theses rights would be going against God….Thomas Jefferson added these ideas to the Declaration of Independence.” (Macmillan/McGraw-Hill response to Carl Schlaepfer, 9/11/02)
Publisher agreed to DELETE a sentence reading “[M]any other teachings in the Quran, such as the importance of honesty, honor, giving to others and having love and respect for their families, govern their daily lives.” which the critic called “more propaganda” for Islam. (Prentice Hall response to Margie Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)
Publisher agreed to DELETE the passage “Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden told his followers that it was a Muslim’s duty to kill Americans. No idea could be farther from Muslim teachings. The Quran, Islam’s holiest book, tells soldiers to ‘show (civilians) kindness and deal with them justly.’ ” in response to a critic who said “this is going to great length to put a positive light on Muslim teachings considering other passages of the Quran.” (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill response to Robert Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)
Publisher agreed to DELETE “entire box called ‘Changing the Earth’s Environment'” because critic objected to the discussion of global warming as a fact. (Prentice Hall response to Margie Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)
Publisher agreed to DELETE sentence reading “Acid rain that is produced in the United States and carried north by wind is a major environmental problem for Canada.” because critic objected to the negative impact of acid rain being stated as a fact, and to the implication that America was responsible. (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill response to Robert Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)
Publisher agreed to CHANGE sentence from “Acid rain damages trees and harms rivers and lakes” to instead read “Many scientists believe that acid rain harms trees, rivers and lakes.” (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill response to Robert Raborn, Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, 8/23/02)
Publishers agreed to DELETE a sentence reading “Christians would later accept slavery in other contexts,” because critics thought discussion of US slavery were too negative, were anti-Christian and emphasized the US role in slavery too much. (Prentice Hall, list of publisher changes)