Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller testified yesterday at a Texas House Public Education Committee hearing (archived video of the hearing here) in support of legislation to help schools better protect their students from bullying. Tragically, unrelenting harassment and bullying have led some Texas students -- like 13-year-old Asher Brown last September -- to take their own lives. Religious-right groups opposed to the bill, however, decided to put politics ahead of protecting Texas students from harm. Read More

It didn't take long for right-wingers to erupt in fury over the Fordham Institute's new report about the disastrously bad social studies curriculum standards in Texas. Fordham's report demolishes the State Board of Education's politicized new standards. The far right's unhinged temper tantrum and lashing out that we're seeing in reaction is revealing. Read More

by Dan Quinn

Once again Texans are getting a lesson in how the religious right uses lies and distortions to promote fear and bigotry. The newest lesson revolves around the Mansfield school district's decision to accept a five-year, $1.3 million federal grant that largely funds elective classes teaching Arabic (alongside current classes in the district that teach Spanish, German, French, Russian, Latin and Chinese). Right-wing groups have been screaming that the classes will lead to pro-Islamic indoctrination in classrooms. Some have also used the program to make the equally absurd claim that an overbearing federal government is "forcing" students at the local level to learn how to speak Arabic. One of the loudest screechers has been Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family. Last week Shackelford, who is a major supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, spoke on an Internet radio show about the Mansfield program, offering one distortion after another. The show's host transcribed some of Shackelford's comments here. Shackelford's fear-mongering echoed bizarre complaints by other extremists on the right that Mansfield's classes would lead to students learning about Islam: “When you have requirements that not only teach the Arabic language, but the culture, the history, the traditions, the words that they use, you can’t help but teach Islam. Now you are going to be in a serious situation of how balanced or biased this is going to be." Read More

In his 2008 book, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For, Texas Gov. Rick Perry criticizes the American Civil Liberties Union for supposedly engaging in a "war on Christmas" by forcing schools to remove references to Christmas in holiday programs and decorations. Last year one of Gov. Perry's loudest supporters, Liberty Institute -- Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family -- absurdly claimed that curriculum writers were trying to keep public school students from learning about Christmas in their social studies classrooms, shrieking: "Merry Christmas: Don't be afraid to say it!" But maybe Liberty Institute should have a chat with Gov. Perry and find out whether he's "afraid to say it." As in the past, Gov. Perry's holiday card to thousands of his closest friends doesn't say a word about Christmas. Click on the picture for the full version. Read More

TFN Insider has already reported about the religious campaign the far right has been waging against Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio. Now PolitiFact offers a clear example of how the religious right is also spreading distortions and falsehoods in the effort to replace Straus with another speaker far more likely to obey their commands on radical social policies. PolitiFact notes today that Texas Eagle Forum has claimed that Straus "was co-author of a bill that would have allowed Planned Parenthood to control public school sex education." But after looking at the public record, PolitiFact rates that claim as a "Pants on Fire" lie. Read More