Taking the Literalists Literally

Using the Texas GOP Bible platform as a club to attack moderate Republicans is a longstanding tactic of the religious right in this state. So it is no surprise to see Texas culture warriors reciting chapter and verse of the party platform in an attempt to strong-arm State Board of Education members into voting to insert phony “weaknesses” of evolution into the state’s science standards. Board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, played the orthodoxy card in his opinion piece in the San Antonio Express News this week:

I pray for my three friends, Pat Hardy of Ft. Worth , Bob Craig of Lubbock, and Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas.  They voted against the Republican Party platform and allowed themselves to be constantly lobbied by prominent atheists and secular humanists.

But have Mercer and his friends actually looked at what the Texas Republican Party platform has to say about this matter? Here is the relevant passage from the current GOP platform, which was drafted and approved in 2008: 

Theories of Origin – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, including Intelligent Design. We believe theories of life origins and environmental theories should be taught as scientific theory, not scientific law. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

Did you catch that? The platform calls not simply for presenting the “weaknesses” of evolution, but explicitly for teaching students “Intelligent Design” – an idea that even a Republican-appointed federal judge acknowledged was a religious concept dressed up to look like science.

Mercer and his fellow evolution deniers on the state board have protested time and again that they do not want “intelligent design”/creationism taught in Texas classrooms.  But that is expressly what their supposedly authoritative Republican Party platform demands. We hate to be literalists about this whole thing, but it only seems fair to hold Mercer and his friends on the state board to the same standard they want to apply to others. 

Which is it, Mr. Mercer? Is the party platform (gasp) wrong, or does it let the cat you so desperately want to silence out of the bag?

You can read more about Mr. Mercer’s column here. And while we have you: advocating “intelligent design” is just the tip of the extremist iceberg in the current state GOP state platform. Click here to read more about the religious right’s influence on that document.

One thought on “Taking the Literalists Literally

  1. I am an advocate for teaching alternative theories of reproduction in Texas public Health classes.

    Consider the story of the Watchmaker. A watch cannot assemble itself nor, once built, construct a copy of itself. How then can a human, much more complex than a watch, produce a copy of itself?

    I advocate teaching the strengths and weaknesses of the theory including alternatives such as the Theory of the Stork.