Our friends at the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University have asked us to extend an invitation to TFN members and supporters in the Houston-area to attend this event on Thursday:

Educating for a “Christian America”? Bible Courses, Social Studies Standards and the Texas Controversy

with Mark A. Chancey, Ph.D. Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Southern Methodist University

James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy Thursday, February 24, 2011 6:30 pm Kelly International Conference Facility James A. Baker III Hall Rice University

The event is free and open to the public, but they do ask that you register to reserve your seat beforehand (which you can do by clicking here).

Not only is the topic timely and relevant, we can attest firsthand that you won’t find a finer scholar or better speaker than Dr. Chancey, who has collaborated  with the Texas Freedom Network on two groundbreaking studies evaluating public school Bible courses.

If you have a free evening on Thursday, you owe it to yourself to head… Read More

Threats to religious freedom -- and the constitutional protections for that freedom -- were evident in much of the far right's political rhetoric in 2010. Some right-wing politicians even sought to turn religion and government into enemies by using faith as a political weapon. You can read more of our review of what the far right had to say in 2010 here and here. “Our country was founded on religious principles … and our students will know that. . . . I think the [Founding Fathers] fully intended that our government would not separate church and state.” -- Gail Lowe, chair of the Texas State Board of Education, talking about new social studies curriculum standards for public schools, North Texas Daily, September 20, 2010 “The exact phrase 'separation of church and state' came out of Adolf Hitler's mouth. That's where it comes from. So next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of church and state, ask them why they're Nazis.” -- Glen Urquhart, Republican congressional candidate from Delaware, Washington Post, April 2010 “WE [sic] elected a house [sic] with Christian, conservative values. We now want a true Christian, conservative running…… Read More

We're glad to see that many Virginia Baptists remain committed to their denomination's traditional defense of separation of church and state. Associated Baptist Press reports that messengers to the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) last week "adopted a resolution decrying versions of American history that minimize or deny the role of church-state separation." From the ABP article: Virginia Baptists should “regard it as a threat to the flourishing of religious liberty when any version of our nation’s history minimizes or denies the historical basis” of church-state separation, the resolution says. It also says Virginia Baptists should “be diligent in resisting and correcting any such mistaken version of our history.” Supporters of the resolution expressed concerns about how Texas State Board of Education's religious-right bloc rewrote history and other social studies curriculum standards earlier this year. Rob James, a retired religion professor at the University of Richmond who chairs the BGAV's religious-liberty committee, had this to say:…… Read More

by Dan Quinn

Texas lawmakers have begun filing bills for the 82nd Legislative Session, which begins in January. Among the early legislation is House Bill 79 by state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van:

POSTING OF TEN COMMANDMENTS. The board of trustees of an independent school district may not prohibit the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments in a prominent location in a district classroom.

Expect more legislation like this. At a time when the Legislature is faced with a massive budget deficit, some lawmakers simply can’t resist trying to distract voters with divisive and unnecessary “culture war” battles. Indeed, the culture wars to some politicians are like light bulbs to June bugs.

You might recall that Rep. Flynn also spoke before the Texas State Board of Education earlier this year in favor of the board’s politicized rewrite of social studies curriculum standards.… Read More

Tea party activists across the country have been doing a lot of shouting about what they say is government getting involved in things it shouldn’t. But we’ve seen a number of tea party-backed candidates in this year’s elections, such as Senate candidates Christine O’Donnell of Delaware and Sharron Angle of Nevada, who don’t seem to have a problem with government getting involved in religious matters. In fact, they want to mix government and religion. Think Progress provides another example: Ken Buck, the Republican nominee for the Senate from Colorado. Here’s what Buck had to say at a candidate forum last year:

I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state. It was not written into the Constitution. While we have a Constitution that is very strong in the sense that we are not gonna have a religion that’s sanctioned by the government, it doesn’t mean that we need to have a separation between government and religion. And so that, that concerns me a great deal. So I think there are cultural differences, I think there, we are as strong as we, our culture, our culture gives us our strength, I guess is the best way… Read More