So Who Is Doing the Hijacking Here?

Far-right members of the Texas State Board of Education continue to protest that they aren’t trying to politicize the revision of social studies curriculum standards for public schools. But their actions don’t match their denials.

We told you two weeks ago that those board members were pitching a hissy about criticism of the unqualified ideologues they have appointed to a panel of so-called “experts” helping guide the social studies revision. Now we have a troubling e-mail exchange between one state board member and a university staffer who wanted to be placed on a  team actually drafting the new curriculum standards.

In the e-mail exchange, which we obtained through a Texas Public Information Act request, state board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, out-of-the-blue asks the applicant:

“Would you consider yourself a conservative when it comes to patriotism, the constitution, the heritage of our forefathers, etc.?”

The applicant, an education coordinator at Stephen F. Austin State University, replied carefully:

“Although I do not entirely understand the use of the word conservative in this context, I do believe that civic virtue, or responsible citizenship, cannot occur without knowledge of the structure and responsibilities of the government, and the exploration of the ideas that led to the development of our government, including those incorporated into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, that have had a central place in every class that I have taught. . . . I believe that citizens cannot be truly patriotic without being fully informed about the history of their country — its background, its development, its achievements, and its mitakes. . . . I also think that patriotism in the 21st cnetury requires an understanding of the political and economic choices made by citzens of other countries, allies and enemies, including an exploration of why these cohices are made and what their results have been.”

For what it’s worth, we fully agree with that response. Ms. Cargill seems to have been satsified because the applicant obtained a spot on one of the writing teams. But we wonder why Ms. Cargill felt it necessary to ask about the political beliefs of someone who simply wanted to help revise the social studies curriculum standards.

Perhaps one reason is the contempt Ms. Cargill apparently has for anyone whose politics are different from hers, as indicated in a recent e-mail newsletter in which she sneeringly attacked the so-called “education establishment” for supposedly trying “to hijack the social studies curriculum and replace the Founding Fathers and American values with freedom-bashing Multiculturalism 101.”

Of course, no one has done any such thing. But we now know that Ms. Cargill doesn’t have a problem with hijacking the curriculum revision process to promote her own political beliefs over the education of our kids.

33 thoughts on “So Who Is Doing the Hijacking Here?

  1. One wonders if Ms Cargill missed the word “mistakes” in that. She doesn’t seem to be the sort to acknowledge that America can make them, except possibly the electing Democrats sort of mistakes.

  2. Gee, the word conservative is the appropriate answer for you views if you wish to prosper in texas politics…who would have guessed? Sorry, liberal is bastardized down here because stubbornness is applauded and change is discouraged.

  3. America is the special creation and the chosen one of the Lord—like the inerrant KJV of the Bible. Therefore, America and its government are inerrant too. We have never made a mistake. All that has happened in all of its detail has been preordained. If we who are right decide to exterminate you who are wrong—and do it—well—that was preordained too. Whatever happens, it was preordained from on high.

    There’s your basic thinking folks. You can take it from there. Charles is on vacation.

  4. Thanks for all that is being done by TFN, but I would suggest that after all these years, a different strategy may be of more value:

    In other words, reconsider terminology and frame the argument constitutionally, “don’t think of an elephant,” and stand firmly for a specific understanding of what the Constitution actually says: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,” Art. 6., Sec. 3., and “make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” First Amendment.

    A strict constructionist conservative accepts the wording of the Constitution as written, therefore, it is a “liberal revisionist” who proclaims the words “church,” or “church and state,” are in the Constitution–they are not. The wording in the Constitution specifically says and relates to “religion,” not just “church.” Therefore, within governmental institutions, including schools, “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history,” James Madison, W&MQ, 3:555.

    “It is the religion commandments in the Constitution which should be hung on every court room wall, posted and taught in every American public school, and monumentalized throughout America, not the religion commandments of Moses or of any religion,” p.19, The Religion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer.

    Get the legal argument correct and effectively counter the unconstitutional position of the “religious wrong.”

    Gene Garman, Baylor 1962
    Pittsburg, KS

  5. I think she did miss the word “mistake,” along with the implication that political and economic choices sometimes have unintended and negative consequences. History is messy.

  6. Ms. Cargill’s question begs definitions of the following words: ‘conservative,’ ‘patriotism,’ and ‘the heritage of our forefathers,’ and ‘etc.’ To say her question is loaded is an understatement.

    For example, in his time, Teddy Roosevelt was considered a conservative. But, because he set up the national parks and was interested in wildlife conservation (hence, “conservative” – despite his love of hunting), he’d hardly be considered a conservative today. Today’s conservatives would terminate the national parks and open them up for good ole capitalistic developers to be converted into hotels, resorts, theme parks, shopping centers and cinemas galore. So, what does she mean by ‘conservative’?

    Secondly, Webster’s definition of ‘patriotism’ overlaps with the definition of ‘nationalism.’ So what is ‘patriotism’? What distinguishes it from ‘nationalism’?

    Thirdly, Ms. Cargill would be shocked – SHOCKED! – to learn that the majority of our forefathers were Unitarians, Universalists, and Deists. The few who were of mainstream denominations were basically nominal members of their congregations. And has she never heard of the Jefferson Bible?

    And, finally, the ‘etc.’ That really stumps me. It could mean anything the writer and the reader want it to mean.

    (Happy vacation, Charles!)

  7. Excuse me, but what does she mean by “freedom-bashing Multiculturalism 101”? If that isn’t a veiled attack against minorities, I don’t know what is. I thought multiculturalism is one of the characteristics that make America great.

  8. I know Barbara Cargill reasonably well. She is a thoughtful and considerate person, much kinder to her opponents than they are to her. She is quite conservative, obviously. Notice she went ahead and appointed the respondent, despite likely differences in philosophy. Does TFN have nothing better to do than demean caring and responsible people like Ms. Cargill? How about you highlight dishonest and uncaring people, both liberals and conservatives? Or is there no such thing as a bad liberal in the eyes of the TFN?

    1. There were no “differences in philosophy” apparent in the applicant’s response. And the issue isn’t whether Ms. Cargill is kind and caring. We have no reason to think she’s not. In fact, she appears to be quite warm and friendly in person. The issue is whether asking about the applicant’s political beliefs was approriate. It wasn’t, and doing so betrays an effort to politicize our children’s education. That would be inappropriate regardless of Ms. Cargill’s political beliefs.

  9. I know for a fact that a Social Studies Curriculum Director of one of the State’s best Districts was not put on the Curriculm Committee because she was not “conservative enough.” This is how our educational system is being hijacked!

  10. They all need to read “Moral Minority: our skeptical founding fathers” as well as Jefferson’s and Madison’s collective writings.

  11. Cytocop said: “Thirdly, Ms. Cargill would be shocked – SHOCKED! – to learn that the majority of our forefathers were Unitarians, Universalists, and Deists. The few who were of mainstream denominations were basically nominal members of their congregations. And has she never heard of the Jefferson Bible?”

    One of the historical lies that David Barton imparts to his church audiences is that more than half of the signers of one of our great historical documents were “seminary graduates.” Chris Rodda says that he has been caught perpetuating this deception on many occasions. This is done to make his audience think that more than half of the founding fathers were divinity school graduates. The deception is in the use of the word “seminary.” In 18th century American parlance, the word “seminary” was used in the same way that we use the word “college” today. Barton never bothers to point out this all-critical fact to his audiences. It is my understanding that only about three of them actually had anything that looked like a religious seminary education. For example, James Madison had a strong background in theology, as well as other subjects. The thing we benefit from today is that he did his homework before coming to the constitutional convention in Philadelphia and was able to tap that broad base of personal knowledge to craft the outlines of a government that would work for us and perhaps have a chance of surviving. I feel sure that his theological knowledge came into play to the extent that he understood how screwed up a marriage between religion and government could be.

    Then again, there is the other perspective, and there was actually something refreshing about it because the person spouting it had no reservations about telling the truth instead of a pack of lies. I ran into it about a week ago on a Christian fundamentalist preacher’s website. I cannot recall his exact words but my paraphrasal below is very close. Here you go folks:

    “If you read through the Bible, it is clear that God intended for religion and government to be combined. They are to be one and the same. Republican Democracy as it was established in the United States in 1787 violates this intent and is clearly sinful, wrong, and an affront to the will of God.”

    I just wonder why Dunbar, McLeroy, Leo, and friends cannot summon the testicular and ovarian fortitude to stand with their honest preacher brotherman and say, “Yes, we believe exactly the same thing.”

  12. Silas Said: “I know Barbara Cargill reasonably well. She is a thoughtful and considerate person, much kinder to her opponents than they are to her. She is quite conservative, obviously. Notice she went ahead and appointed the respondent, despite likely differences in philosophy. Does TFN have nothing better to do than demean caring and responsible people like Ms. Cargill? How about you highlight dishonest and uncaring people, both liberals and conservatives? Or is there no such thing as a bad liberal in the eyes of the TFN?”

    Personally, I would like to ask Silas to define the term “liberal” for me in his own words—not those of Mr. Webster. Then I would like him to tell me if there is any such thing as a bad liberal. Thanks!!!

  13. Cytocop said: “Excuse me, but what does she mean by “freedom-bashing Multiculturalism 101″? If that isn’t a veiled attack against minorities, I don’t know what is. I thought multiculturalism is one of the characteristics that make America great.”

    Yes. That baffled me a bit too. Here in my small town down south, we have whole houses full of Mexicans—most of whom are probably here illegally. In some cases, I would guess that there are maybe 20 people living huddled together in the same house. These household groups are probably composites of several different nuclear and extended families. They go out to work each day at assorted jobs, spend a lot of money at Wal-Mart, and soup up their cars at the local detailing houses. They mostly keep to themselves because they do not speak English, and most of them do not hurt anyone. They strike me as nice and polite people. In fact, when I see them, it makes me feel a bit on the proud side—perhaps because I know something about American history. If they keep coming back or stay, I know that little 2-year-old Rosalita will go through my local high school, attend college, and will maybe one day discover the basic principles of warp drive. She may be from Mexico. She may be here illegally. She may not speak English right now. But is she discovers warp drive, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be OUR warp drive. Some see these people as criminals. I see these people as our future.

    And about freedom. Despite all of the hundreds of Mexicans here in my town, I have not noticed any loss to my personal freedom. I still have freedom of speech. I can travel without an internal government visa. No soldiers are quartered in my house. I go to the church of my choice on Sunday. I can still get a jury trial for $20. And for the cherry on top, I got some of the best Mexican food on the planet down on the main drag through town.

    Now. You may say that these illegal Mexicans are taking a job that a natural-born American could have had. Well, much as I dislike having to inform you, getting a job is NOT a basic American freedom. Benjamin Franklin never said, “And boy, I got a job waiting for you right here.” No. That requires study, work, and competition. If you have got a list of 10 basic American freedoms that “multiculturalism” is taking away, and it includes things like the “right to a job” or “the right to smoke my cigarette wherever I want to,” then I would argue that you do not know what American freedoms really are. You just make up your own BS list as you go.

  14. Silas, if the definition of a “kind and caring person” is one who says multiculturalism “bashes” freedom, then your definition and mine are different. As Charles very clearly pointed out, there isn’t any correlation between multiculturalism and loss of freedom. Perhaps what you really meant is that Ms. Cargill is “kind and caring” only toward those of her own ethnicity, creed, or culture.

    As for a “bad liberal,” like Charles, it would depend on how one defines a “bad liberal.” For example, the neo-cons would say President Obama is a “liberal.” To me, he IS a “bad liberal” inasmuch as he is more interested in promoting Corporateamerica than he is in public health, for example. His health “reform” team is composed of nothing but corporate puppets (such as Max Baucus) more interested in profit than health – and Pres. Obama knows this!!

  15. I was just reading an article about the kangaroo court trial that the Iranian theocracy has instituted against the captured election protest leaders in Iran—after appropriate torture—naturally. One sentence really caught my eye:

    “They face a maximum jail term of five years if convicted, unless they are charged with being a “mohareb” or enemy of God, which can carry the death penalty.”

    In about 50 years, I figure lines like those about protests against our American Christian-Neofundamentalist theocracy that replaced the democratic republic started in 1776 and 1787 will be common in American newspapers. The nation will be run by mullahs like Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy. As usual, the enemies of God will not be determined by God. They will be determined by the mullah morons who claim to work for him—but whose hearts are in reality light years from him. That’s the way it almost always works.

    Unless, of course, we stop them. Two chilling lines like those in quotes above should never grace an American newspaper—NEVER!!!

    Anyone here speak Farsi?

  16. As any student of history knows, the Dark Ages, the Crusades, the Salem witch trials, the imprisonment of dissenters in Virginia, etc., along with the obvious truth that real religion is voluntary, were all a part of the reasoning as to why the Founding Fathers of 1787, the First Congress of 1789, and the state legislators in 1791 separated religion and government, via Art. 6. and the First Amendment. Nevertheless, as cited in my July 30 post above, “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history,” James Madison, W&MQ, 3:555.

    In other words, from the beginning of our country “the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished” in the USA. Unfortunately, the vultures of the “Dark Ages” still exist nationwide and continuing efforts by the so-called “Religious Right” to establish religion by law are openly reported — from public law passed by Congress establishing “under God” into the unenforceable national pledge of allegiance, to establishing religion monuments on public property, and to establishment of tax exempt status for every type of “religion” based ecclesiastical organization. Unfortunately, too many elected politicians have never read James Madison’s essay regarding unconstitutional “Ecclesiastical Endowments,” including his disapproval of the appointment of the first chaplain to Congress.

    As a religion major at Baylor U., I was introduced to Madison’s principle of “separation between Religion and Government,” by Dr. James E. Wood, Jr., went on to eventually serve as a staff member with Glenn Archer’s American’s United organization, have lectured and wrote on the subject of “separation” for over 40 years, recently published a textbook, through, titled “The Religion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer,” but still have to contend for the attention of news organizations, such as TFN, to stop distorting the Constitution by use of the words “church and state,” which words are not in the Constitution. It is a “religious” test which shall not be required, and it is “religion,” the whole subject thereof, not just a church, which shall not be established by Congress or law at any level of government, including state legislatures and county court houses. It is way past time to get the constitutional argument correctly understood and properly worded.

    Gene Garman, M.Div., Pittsburg, KS

  17. Charles, I’ve made the same prediction about America’s future, and I was told there are no brown shirts around….yet. If the U.S. continues charging down the “right” path as it seems hellbent on doing, I don’t see how the fascist Christian United States of America could NOT become reality.

    So you and I are on the same track.

    I don’t speak Farsi. But I’d better learn to speak New Testament, New Testament Greek (Koine) and Latin. And I’d better forget Hebrew. Knowing Hebrew will become the kiss of death.

  18. Farsi. If a “mohareb” is an enemy of god, I was wondering if Farsi has a term for the ultra-conservative person who accuses another of being an enemy of God. Some American terms like “dildo” come to mind, but I was thinking of something more specific and precise.

  19. Charles, you could try an online free translator. Some will translate not just words but phrases.

    OK about not substituting ‘church’ for ‘religion’ and not using them interchangeably. Certainly the Religious Right uses ‘church,’ don’t they? I think this is a case of a bit of hair-splitting but I’ll try to remember not to use ‘church.’

  20. The “Religious Right” is wrong. Words mean things. The Constitution and the First Amendment mean exactly what they say: “no RELIGIOUS test” for public office and “no law respecting an establishment of RELIGION.” Strict constructionists accept the words of the Constitution as written. Try going before the Supreme Court and telling the Justices the words of the Constitution really do not mean what they say. Revisionists change the wording. Revisionist Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist, for example, in Wallace v. Jaffree, asserted the First Amendment really meant a “national” religion, which is an argument of the “Religious Wrong.” To the contrary, the word “national” in not in the First Amendment. In the USA it is “RELIGION” which is not to be established by law or Congress. What part of “no law” or “respecting an establishment of RELIGION” is unclear? The whole issue of “religion” is not to be established by law or Congress, and thanks to application of the Fourteenth Amendment, no state can make any law establishing “religion.” The issue in Art. 6. and the First Amendment is “religion.”

    I suggest you read the latest textbook on the subject, The Religion Commandments in the Constitution: A Primer, and start defeating the argument of the “Religious Wrong” by ceasing to distort what the religion commandments in the Constitution say and discontinuing use of the word “church,” as if that word is in the Constitution. It is not. Does “religion” include church? Of course, but it also covers the entire subject of religion, such as “under God” in the unenforceable pledge and school sanctioned “prayers” in public schools or Ten Commandments monuments on public property. The third religion commandment in the Constitution also requires use of the word “religion,” not church. The religion commandments in the Constitution are consistent, plainly worded, and clearly stated. The Founding Fathers and the First Congress got it right from the beginning: “religion” is to be voluntary, not established by government. I hope I have clearly responded. Thanks for listening.

  21. Are you suggesting, Gene, that each time we reflexively might have said “church and state” we should instead say “religion and state?” And if we do that, do you predict that will have any qualitative effect on the birthers, er, ah, the right wingers’ denunciation of the concept?

  22. Thank you, Gene, for the information. I still don’t think it makes a lick of difference to the Christofascist neo-fundamentalists whether “religion” or “church” are used. The fact remains that they believe there is NO SEPARATION between church and state or religion and state. It’s the phrase NO SEPARATION that they are screaming, not the words CHURCH or STATE. They’ll tell you that the word “separation” does not exist in the Constitution and, hence, their argument for the mixing of religion and state and church and state. Whether it’s ‘church’ or ‘religion’ makes no difference; there is no SEPARATION.

    Furthermore – and what’s even more disturbing – is that they are gaining support for their position, not losing it.

    Their ultimate goal is the establishment of the Church Of The United States of America; a similar situation as the Church of England. Considering that our taxes are already supporting “faith-based” institutions (whether those institutions are of our faith or not, and millions of tax dollars are devoted to proselytization), I’d say we’re already on our way to seeing the birth of the Church Of The U.S.A. Certainly the first step has been taken.

    My fear is that this Church of U.S.A. will be far more powerful and sinister than any C. of E.

  23. What I suggest is use of the actual words of the Constitution, which are “no RELIGIOUS test” and “no law respecting an establishment of RELIGION.” It is way past time to specifically reject and destroy the inaccurate argument which advances the “state church” concept used by our opponents to overcome the constitutional use of “religion,” that is, the whole understanding of “religion” is not to made into law within the USA. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and it does not use the word “church.” Yes, you start winning the public and legal debate by upholding what the Constitution actually says and by insisting upon correct terminology in order to understanding the meaning of what the Constitution says. Use of “state church” or “national religion,” as if those are terms by which the religion commandments are to be understood, is an inaccurate assertion. So, I emphasize the words Madison used in his essay “Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical Endowments: “Strongly guarded … is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3:555.

    As for impact upon the “Religious Wrong,” and the “birthers,” etc. , the truth hurts, and thanks for asking that question. On July 31, I emailed the office of the Governor of Hawaii and simply asked if President Obama has a birth certificate on file in Hawaii. In reply, on August 3, below is quoted the reply I received, via email, so click on the link and see for yourself the document from Hawaii’s Director of Health:

    Yes he does. This link is to the statement from the Director of Health:

    Laurie L. K. Yoshida
    Kaua`i Liaison
    Office of the Governor
    email: [email protected]

  24. Yes, but what you have to understand is that Ms. Laurie L.K. Yoshida has been manipulated behind the scenes and forced into a co-operation with the great liberal conspiracy that has befallen our beloved land.

    I still like my Kenyan birth scenario—especially the part about the Obamas escaping American medicine to have their first child delivered by a more competent witchdoctor ob-gyn in rural Africa.

    These birther people are complete idiots.

  25. Thanks but I guess I’m not making myself clear. I’m not talking about RELIGION vs CHURCH. I’m talking about SEPARATION. Whatever James Madison wrote somewhere in William and Mary Quarterly doesn’t matter because the RR’s will tell you that SEPARATION isn’t found in the Constitution. They will tell you THERE IS NO SEPARATION of religion and government in the Constitution. I’m sorry but I really don’t know how to say it any clearer than that.

    As for the prohibition against establishing a state religion, they’ll find all kinds of loopholes around that, probably starting with the NO SEPARATION argument, already unfolding today. Another tactic is to spread disinformation, such as the billboards with the phony quotes.* They’re also playing the Persecution card, putting themselves out there as persecuted victims, often likening themselves to the first century Christians persecuted by the Romans.

    Mind you, nothing drastic is going to happen overnight. This is a longterm strategy, to take place over decades and a generation or two. If you think I’m nuts, check out Joel’s Army, the Army of God, the Christian Dominionists, Christian Identity, Christian Reconstructionists. Little by little, Supreme Court appointee by Supreme Court appointee, Liberty University graduate by Liberty University graduate, a preferred state religion will begin to be hatched. (Like I say, it’s already hatching due to the “faith-based” initiative). A preferred state religion will eventually lead to an Approved State Religion. Of course, there will be all kinds of arguments, cat fights, discrimination, possibly or probably violence – over whose idea of a state religion shall be the accepted one. The infighting will look very similar to the European religious wars of medieval-to-renaissance times; Catholics battled the emerging Protestants who, after gaining the upper hand in many countries, then battled each other. (Note they brought these religious fights into America. Puritans hanged each other in Salem, MA, and they hanged Quakers in Boston Common. Maryland was set aside for Catholics since nobody else wanted them. And nobody wanted Jews.) Out of all this battling for control, eventually a state religion will be born.

    This is what I foresee for America’s future should the RR continue their path of “bringing America to Christ.” This is the future I believe the RR most desires for America. And I think they’ve been pretty clear about that.

    *Christian missionaries are masters at the art of quote-mining and misrepresentation. Check out all the stuff that the RR is writing in regard to the map with the “ice-less” Antarctica. They’ve been well-versed (excuse the pun) in this art for 2,000 years, starting with the gospel-writers who deliberately misrepresented and mistranslated the Jewish “Old Testament” to make it seem to support Christian doctrine.

  26. Forgive me for, apparently, not clearly establishing the elementary point about separation, and perhaps there may be others who do not clearly understand how the word “separation,” applies.

    If I may again repeat, the word in the Constitution is “religion,” not “church.” Use of “church” is inaccurate and distorts what the Constitution says and means. Is that point not clearly understood? I agree with the use of “separation” between “Religion and Government” or “church and state.” I accept Madison’s and Jefferson’s use of the facilitating word “separation,” even though the word “separation” is not in the Constitution. Why? Because the religion commandments in the Constitution literally separate religion and government:

    “no religious test shall ever be required” clearly separates government from “religion” tests for public office, and “make no law respecting an establishment of religion” clearly separates government from making law respecting an establishment of “religion,” even though the word “separation” is not in either commandment. The Constitution’s religion commandments, by their very terms, clearly separate religion and government.

    Therefore, as the Constitution commands, in the USA “religion” is not the business of government, which is why both Jefferson and Madison used the word “separation” when referring to the Constitution’s principle relating to religion and government and is why I quote Madison’s use of the word “separation,” because that is what, as both Jefferson and Madison assert, the religion commandments do–they separate religion from the law making power of government. “No law” and “no test” separate the law making power of government from any authority to establish “religion” in any way whatsoever.

    As to your other point, there is no way you can make the word “religion,” which is the word in the Constitution, mean “church,” which word is not in the Constitution. In a constitution, the only words which count are its words and they are the words which have legal standing in a court of law. It is the written words upon which courts make decisions, regardless of what the “Religious Wrong” asserts. When our opponents attempt to revise the wording of the Constitution, I object. The Constitution is our protection from the Dark Ages. The Founding Fathers and the First Congress and the legislatures of the states, got the religion commandments correctly worded. I defend them as written.

  27. You have one slight problem here Gene. I don’t know if you have ever been a member of a radical right Southern Baptist Convention church, but I have. One of the first things they will tell you in Sunday school class and in a sermon is that their Christianity is NOT a religion. It is instead a “faith.” Catholics have a “religion”. Buddhists have a “religion.” Fundamentalists have something very different—a “faith.” For those who choose to mince words, they would simply say, “Oh, religion separated from governmment. ” That must not apply to me because I have something very different—a “faith.” However, I have never heard any of these people say to me that they do not have a “church.”

    I understand what you are saying quite clearly Gene, and I largely agree with it. However, if you choose to dwell on legal semantics, the Christian Neo-Fundamentalists will simply read “religion separated from government” as a special exemption for their point of view. The word “church” specifically denies them that sense of exemption.

    In an old 1960s back fold-in cover on MAD Magazine, it showed a stark 19th century-style industrial facility. There was a huge pile of coal and a fiery furnace. The factory was populated by little gray-haired ladies wearing long black and white grandma dresses. Each lady’s hair was pulled into a back bun. They had shovels in their hands and were working at hard labor. A long conveyor belt was carrying freshly baked cakes high up to a hole in the wall and through that hole to awaiting trucks. Over that hole in the wall was a huge banner that shed its menacing message down to the little old ladies below,


    I think the term “separation of church and state” conveys to the Religious Right and the Christian Neo-Fundamentalists the clear message that:


    They need to hear that message because it is true—as the founding fathers intended it to be. In Hawaii, where Christians of all stripes are a minority, “separation of religion and government” would be the appropriate and most overall meaningful read on the separation message.

  28. I have no idea why you are still stuck on the RELIGION vs CHURCH thing. I’m way past that. As for separating religion and government, the line has ALREADY been blurred: our TAXES are going to institutions of religion. Hasn’t anyone noticed? Additionally, clergymen who use their pulpits to stump for and against certain candidates have not lost their tax-exempt status. And a good deal of our tax dollars are used for proselytization. I’d like to know how much.

  29. Note: My posting above was in response to Gene, not Charles.

    Am I the only one who has noticed the blurring of the boundaries separating religion (or church – whatever is the preferred word) and state. I would also like to know how many of my tax dollars are being spent on proselytization. Will that figure ever be available to the public? Do we have a RIGHT to know? Nobody has specifically said No. But nobody has specifically said Yes either.

    And you can bet your life savings that the clergymen who get political in their pulpits – and remain tax-exempt – are most likely of the RR.

    Also, do you really believe the RR’s will be content to let the crossed boundary of religion/state stand as is? I believe the faith-based boundary-crossing is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more blurring to continue….

  30. Although I am in agreement with the goals of TFN and read the daily summaries regularly, I find some of the language in this TFN post troubling. TFN is obviously a liberal organization, but I see its education goals as benefitting both liberal and conservative by seeking a broad consensus in curriculum, based on a study of history and science as reported and studied from a broad spectrum of viewpoints. I don’t think it serves TFN’s goal of reason and fact based education to use colorful and/or slangy terms like “pitching a hissy”, “out-of-the-blue”, and “sneeringly” in reporting. Those words certainly may appeal to some of us in an irate moment, but they do not add substance to the discussion. They are words which add heat but no light. A calmer more neutral tone will let provide a better contrast to the hysteria so often cultivated by postings from the religious right.

  31. Thanks, Sharon. The same common sense applies in failure to comprehend the constitutional wording “religious” and “religion” that have specific Webster’s Dictionary definitions by which communication and comprehension is made understandable and consistent, regardless of inaccurate misconceptions and common distortions. Calling a duck a cow creates confusion, so it is with the words of the Constitution. The Founding Fathers and the members of First Congress stated the principles of the Constitution in terms of specific words. Quibbling adds only confusion and leads to distortion. If one wishes to communicate what the Constitution means, then use its words, not substitute words. It is the whole subject of “religion” which is not to be established by government at any level, and no incorrect rhetoric of or spinning by the Religious Right can overcome the religion commandments in the Constitution, because they mean exactly what they say. Thus, the Constitution says it, I believe it, and that settles it. Hopefully, TFN will recognize the same and improve its effectiveness.

  32. Sharon, when you say “TFN is obviously a liberal organization,” would you like to explain? I see TFN as neutral or moderate. What is so “liberal” about it?