Dan Flynn, R-Van

State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, is of two (or three) minds when it comes to the role religion should play in American law and society.  Warning: Do not try to reconcile these statements, all of which were made over the last five months.

Flynn, on the urgent need to post the 10 commandments in public school classrooms (the subject of his own HB 51):

“Our country was founded on Judeo Christian principles. The Ten Commandments, one of the supreme doctrines of the Christian faith, naturally provided a type of moral compass for the men who created and founded the rule of law and government for America. From an historical standpoint, a proper understanding of the historical importance of these commandments is essential to the necessary education of our children.”

Translation: Christian doctrine is the basis of the American rule of law and government. We must teach it to our kids!

Flynn, on the need to protect Texas citizens from the apparently dire threat of Islamic Sharia law (the subject of his own HJR 43):

“A court of this state may not enforce, consider, or apply any… Read More

Moses State Rep. Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton

In week full of religious liberty skirmishes at the Texas Capitol, we would be remiss if we did not flag the most ridiculous church-state proposal we’ve seen this session: HCR 58 by state Rep. Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton — a publicity stunt masquerading as a House Concurrent Resolution. The resolution concludes:

RESOLVED, That the 83rd Legislature of the State of Texas hereby support prayers, including the use of the word “God,” at public gatherings as well as displays of the Ten Commandments in public educational institutions and other government buildings.

In other words, Rep. Stephenson is asking his fellow legislators to join him in promoting divisive and unconstitutional practices.

There are plenty of problems with this resolution — its embrace of  a flawed, David Barton-esque version of US History, a clear hostility toward any Texan who doesn’t share Rep. Stephenson’s mono-theistic faith, promoting nakedly partisan talking points from the Texas GOP platform. But we’ll limit our criticism to the obvious. The resolution calls for activities already ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. As recently as 2005 (in McCrearyRead More

We’ll give this to him: he’s persistent.

On the first day (today) that lawmakers can file bills for the 2013 session of the Texas Legislature, state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, has proposed a bill — House Bill 49 — requiring public high school students to take a course on the U.S. Constitution. Seems reasonable? Of course — except that high schools already teach such a course: U.S. Government.

Flynn filed the same bill in 2011, and it went nowhere. Lawmakers didn’t seem to see much value in having school districts repeat something they already teach in another course (especially while Flynn and other legislators were voting to slash billions of dollars in funding for public education at the same time).

Flynn has also filed House Bill 51, which would bar local school districts from prohibiting the posting of the Ten Commandments “in a prominent location in a district classroom.” The same bill (filed by Flynn) also went nowhere last session. Perhaps Flynn should study up on the Constitution himself — especially the part about no government establishment of religion.… Read More

During the Texas State Board of Education‘s debate over science curriculum standards in 2008, supporters of sound science education succeeded in killing a provision that would have required students to learn creationism-inspired arguments about the “weaknesses” of evolution. But nine Republicans in state board races apparently will insist that new biology textbooks include those bogus “weaknesses” if they win election on November 6. Moreover, 11 GOP candidates for the state board support displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools.

The candidates made their positions clear in a voter guide questionnaire sponsored by several religious-right groups. The evolution question is particularly important because the state board is scheduled to adopt new biology textbooks in 2013. Those textbooks could be in Texas public schools for nearly a decade.

The following nine Republican candidates said they “strongly agree” with this statement: “Biology textbooks which do not teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution should be rejected by the Board.”

District 1 Charlie Garza, El Paso (incumbent) District 3 David Williams, San Antonio District 5 Ken Mercer, San Antonio (incumbent) District 6 Donna Bahorich, Houston District 7 David Bradley, Beaumont Buna… Read More

Because of the evolving body of case law and complicated constitutional issues surrounding the posting of the Ten Commandments in public spaces, TFN Insider asked one of the nation's top First Amendment scholars, Steven Green, to take a look at state Rep. Dan Flynn's problematic legislation promoting the Ten Commandments in Texas schools. Here is Dr. Green's analysis of House Bill 79 in the Texas Legislature. Analysis of Texas HB 79 By Dr. Steven K. Green, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Religion, Law & Democracy at Willamette University. Dr. Green is the author of several books on the religious liberty provisions of the First Amendment, including most recently The Second Disestablishment: Church and State in Nineteenth Century America (Oxford, 2010). As currently written, HB 79 would prevent any school district from prohibiting the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments in a prominent location in any public school classroom. The bill does not state who may post the Ten Commandments in a classroom, but the assumption is that it would be done by a public school employee, as public school classrooms are not public forums and are otherwise unavailable for the posting of items by private individuals. Even if the bill could be interpreted to allow a posting by a student or a non-school person with school permission, that factor would not affect the analysis discussed below. Read More

Join the TFN Email List

   Please leave this field empty

Follow TFN on Facebook

DONATE TO TFN

The Texas Freedom Network fights the powerful influence of the religious right, and every dollar makes a difference in our campaigns. Make your contribution today and join a grassroots network of more than 130,000 members and supporters. DONATE TODAY