This week began with the Texas Freedom Network mobilizing supporters of public education, family planning, LGBT rights and religious freedom for big battles at the Texas Capitol. We’re happy to report good news on a number of fronts, but hard work remains ahead of us.
Public Education On Thursday the Texas House voted overwhelmingly, 103-43, to bar spending any public dollars on voucher schemes that subsidize tuition at private and religious schools. This is the third time in the last four legislative sessions that House members have slammed the door on private school vouchers. TFN is still working to block voucher bills being pushed in the Senate.
Family Planning Two years after the Texas House declared war on birth control, House members this week passed a state budget that reverses most of those funding cuts to family planning services for low-income women. Your calls and emails to lawmakers helped stop any repeat of the frenzy to cut family planning funds that occurred during House debate of the budget in 2011. TFN will continue to monitor this critical issue as the House and Senate budget bills go to a conference committee.
LGBT Rights An effort to amend the… Read More
The Texas Freedom Network will be busy, busy, busy at the Legislature this week. Sex education, religious freedom, LGBT rights, and family planning funding are on legislative calendars. Click on the links in the Take Action box on the right to help our efforts at the Capitol.
The Texas House Committee on Public Education is set to take up House Bill 1057, which could effectively end sex education in many school districts in Texas, the state with the fourth-highest teen birth rate in the nation. HB 1057, by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, would add burdensome new bureaucratic requirements on schools districts and undermine the ability for communities to make their own decisions on sex ed materials and instruction. Learn more about what’s wrong with HB 1057 here.
This legislation’s companion bill, Senate Bill 521, has already been heard by a Senate committee, where it became clear during the hearing that some politicians were more interested in dragging schools into a debate over abortion than they were with responsible teen sex education.
Three bills relating to religious freedom are scheduled for committee hearings at the Texas… 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
Social conservatives have long pointed to the constitutional bar on government-sponsored prayer in public schools as the source of many of society’s ills. Just last week, when a gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theater, some trotted out the “If only we had prayer in schools” argument as a solution for preventing such tragedies.
Texas state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, however, has her own solution. In a post on her Facebook page Monday, she seems to accept the fact that government-sponsored prayer is not allowed in public schools — though students are free to pray in public schools as long as it’s not officially sanctioned by administrators — and she offers an alternative:
I say have a reading out of Proverbs each day in our classrooms.
No, really, she said it. Here’s her full post:
Formal prayer has been taken out of our schools. How about this idea? Read from the book of Proverbs from the Bible. Proverbs is a book of wisdom. Proverbs is in the Holy Scriptures for Christians and Jews. As for other religions — the wisdom won’t do them any harm. This nation was built on Christian and Jewish values and the Bible… Read More
As this headline on Rachel Maddow’s blog says, “Publicly funded religion for me, not for thee.”
We told you last month that a Louisiana legislator had turned against an already-passed private school voucher scheme in his state because a Muslim school had applied to accept those tax dollars. But he’s not the only state lawmaker who has problems with the concept of religious freedom:
‘I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,’ (Republican state Rep. Valarie) Hodges said.
Hodges mistakenly assumed that ‘religious’ meant ‘Christian.’
HB976, now signed into law as Act 2, proposed, among other things, a voucher program allowing state educational funds to be used to send students to schools run by religious groups …
‘Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,’ Hodges said. ‘We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.’
Yes, you read that right: she wanted the taxpayer-funded program limited… Read More