We’re glad to see that many Virginia Baptists remain committed to their denomination’s traditional defense of separation of church and state. Associated Baptist Press reports that messengers to the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) last week “adopted a resolution decrying versions of American history that minimize or deny the role of church-state separation.” From the ABP article:
Virginia Baptists should “regard it as a threat to the flourishing of religious liberty when any version of our nation’s history minimizes or denies the historical basis” of church-state separation, the resolution says. It also says Virginia Baptists should “be diligent in resisting and correcting any such mistaken version of our history.”
Supporters of the resolution expressed concerns about how Texas State Board of Education‘s religious-right bloc rewrote history and other social studies curriculum standards earlier this year. Rob James, a retired religion professor at the University of Richmond who chairs the BGAV’s religious-liberty committee, had this to say:
“One of the things that frightened us [the committee] was that the next 10 years of social-studies textbooks would raise questions about the founding of this country and to what extent, if at all, the idea of separation of church and state is part of our national commitment. It appeared to us that what was going on amounted to a change of our historical memory. If we as individuals are robbed of our memory we can no longer be the same person and can’t be faithful to the same principles. The same is true of a collective body. Its memory can be tampered with.”
According to the ABP story, the original resolution specifically cited Texan David Barton — who wants our government and laws to be based on a fundamentalist Christian interpretation of the Bible — and other “Reconstructionist authors” for engaging in “systematic efforts” to revise the nation’s history. Supporters agreed to remove those names before the convention passed the final resolution.