Former Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) member Cynthia Dunbar still seems determined to destroy the most important protection for religious freedom in America: the First Amendment.

As a member of the Texas SBOE in 2010, Dunbar lead successful opposition to requiring that public school students in social studies classrooms learn how the First Amendment protects religious freedom by barring government from promoting one faith perspective over all others. The Constitution does not protect separation of church and state, she argued. Dunbar insisted, instead, that the nation’s Founders actually wanted government to promote religion. Last Saturday Dunbar went even further while speaking at an anti-abortion rally in Ohio. From our friends at Right Wing Watch:

Cynthia Dunbar, a former member of the Texas Board of Education who is now a law professor at Liberty University, in her address to the rally made the specious claim that “94% of the quotes of the Founding Fathers contemporaneous to our nation’s founding came either directly or indirectly from the Bible” and maintained that legislators shouldn’t worry about passing the unconstitutional Heartbeat Bill since “Roe v. Wade is not law at all.” “Guess what legislators,” Dunbar… Read More

The religious right insists that faith is under siege in America. Far-right leaders and pressure groups have pushed the “war on religion” trope for years now. Texas Gov. Rick Perry even used it during his doomed presidential campaign last December. Most recently, the right has argued that the Obama administration’s policy on insurance coverage for contraception is part of this mythical “war.”

But a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that most Americans aren’t buying it. According to that poll, Americans by a 56%-39% margin say they don’t think religious liberty is under threat in America today. Of those who do believe religious freedom is threatened, only 6 percent mentioned the current debate over health insurance coverage for birth control. Others mentioned “hostility towards Christians/religion” (10 percent), “removing religion from the public square” (23 percent) and “general government interference in religion” (20 percent).

David Barton, president of Texas-based WallBuilders, plays especially on such fears. You can see that in Barton’s recent essay absurdly claiming that Barack Obama has been “the most Biblically hostile” American president.

The PRRI poll also shows that a majority of Americans support requiring that employers, including… Read More

Ken Starr, Baylor University president and Bill Clinton bête noire, has some interesting things to say in a Washington Post op-ed published Sunday. And David Barton, founder of the religious-right and historical revisionist organization WallBuilders, won't like much of it. Starr's column addresses the question of whether Christians such as himself could vote for a Mormon, such as Mitt Romney, for president. In short, his answer is yes: "Without endorsing or even praising (much less criticizing) any candidate, I strongly encourage Americans who would ask this question of themselves to consider and weigh thoughtfully our nation’s constitutional traditions. At their best, those are traditions of welcoming religious forbearance. . . . (T)he litmus for our elected leaders must not be the church they attend but the Constitution they defend." Starr goes on to discuss previous American presidents and their beliefs about religion: "(A) number of great presidents have come to the White House without membership in any faith community. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist and was vigorously attacked for his religious views (or lack thereof). Abraham Lincoln, as a matter of conscience, refused to join any church. Yet our nation’s capital rightly dedicates two of its most stately monuments to those two men of unorthodox spiritual worldviews." ... Citizens as voters do well when they pause to reflect on our nation’s history and traditions. If an unbeliever such as Jefferson or non-churchman like Lincoln can serve brilliantly as president, then America should stand — in an intolerant world characterized all too frequently by religious persecution — as a stirring example of welcoming hospitality for highly qualified men and women of good will seeking the nation’s highest office. Jefferson was a "deist"? An "unbeliever"? Uh-oh. Don't tell "historian" David Barton. In pursuit of his political argument that the founders intended to establish a Christian nation with its laws and society based on the Christian Bible, Barton places Jefferson in a pantheon of early American leaders who used their public offices to promote Christianity. Here's what Barton said about Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and others of the nation's founders in a discussion with Glenn Beck on Beck's Fox News program from April 2010: Read More

With 2011 winding down, it’s  time for our annual review of what we heard from the far right over the past year. Following are quotes that demonstrate a fundamental lack of respect — from elected officials and candidates for public office to other right-wing ideologues — for the faith and religious freedom of all Americans. You can read quotes from 2010 and 2009 here.

“One nation under God, there is no separation.”

– The chorus from a song performed at a religious-right gala that drew right-wing politicians like former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, to the East Texas town of Lufkin. Talk to Action, April 12, 2011

“There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit. But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister…. Now I will… Read More

A new gaffe-filled video of Rick Perry is making the rounds, this one from his editorial board interview with the Des Moines Register on Friday (video from Think Progress):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_NWaRKUbpY&feature=player_embedded#at=37]

Think Progress immediately zeroed in on Perry’s reference to “eight unelected” judges on the Supreme Court. (The court has nine justices.) But it fails to mention his arguably more disturbing trampling of the Constitution and First Amendment. Referring to prayer in public schools, Perry says:

The independent school boards that oversee those should make those decision [sic], not government. Again, I mean the idea that we have to be so politically correct that there’s one family that says, listen, I don’t want my child — then that child ought to have the freedom to be, um, you know, can sit over there and play tic-tac-toe or what have you. But the issue is that for Washington to tell a local school district that you cannot have a prayer, and a time of prayer in that school, I think is offensive to most Americans.

Wow. There’s a lot of muddled thinking to unpack here.

First, Perry doesn’t seem to understand that local school boards ARE government. In Texas school… Read More

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