July 10, 2009

…an emphatically Christian government

Article 7, Section 1 of the Texas Constitution states:

"A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools."

Thus we have the Texas State Board of Education, with the constitutional mission of establishing suitable schools for Texas children. Unfortunately, our current Governor, secessionist Rick Perry, has spent the past nine years ensuring that our State Board of Ignorance [HT] meets the lofty, theocratic standards of the Christian Right, and the knowledge diffused to Texas school kids is subjected to a “Biblical litmus test”.

Credit for the title of this post goes to TxSBOE board member Cynthia Nowland Dunbar, a conservative Republican elected from a district that stretches from just outside of Houston all the way up to Austin. The Biblical litmus test quote is hers too. Both come from her book, One Nation Under God: How the Left is Trying to Erase What Made Us Great, in which she argues that our founders created “an emphatically Christian government” and that government should be guided by a “biblical litmus test.” Her book campaigns for a belief system in which “any person desiring to govern have a sincere knowledge and appreciation for the Word of God in order to rightly govern.”

Good stuff, huh? And the book is chock full of entertaining little ditties. For instance, I found it interesting that a Board of Education member would refer to public education as a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” Dunbar, who home schooled her own children, calls the establishment of public schools unconstitutional and “tyrannical,” because public schooling threatens the authority of families, granted by God through Scripture, to direct the instruction of their children. All of this is very curious, since the TxSBOE was established under constitutional authority.

The book is not Dunbar’s first literary effort. She has dropped several piles in the past. Last year during the Presidential campaign, she unleashed an online tirade repeating, among other misguided opinions, the stier ausscheidung that Obama was a terrorist sympathizer. Her ignorance and extremism come honestly though. You see, she is a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regents University law school.

Now, gentle reader, I suspect you are asking why I rant so about this obviously misguided woman and her baffling beliefs. Well… until today she was rumored to be the top candidate to replace Don McLeroy, another extremist whose gubernatorial reappointment to the Chair of the TxSBOE was blocked by the Texas State Senate. After McLeroy was shot down, the pundits predicted Dunbar to be the next duck in the shooting gallery.

Not to worry though, because had Governor Goodhair been so arrogant I’m pretty confident the Senate would have been sensible enough to see through the smoke, and she would have been shot down. Even our normally wingnut legislature would have to wonder how a person who is bent on dismantling our public school system should be allowed to chair the body entrusted with advancing public education. Perry likely doesn’t have the good sense to understand this, so his advisors must have given him a clue.

And thus Perry has appointed Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas. To many, myself included, this will be no better. Lowe is another social conservative right wingnut Christian of the same stripe as Dunbar, but she is on the quiet side and little more than a follower. Honestly, she is a political milksop who will go with the right wingnut flow, following directions like a good little sheep.

Texas is little better with Lowe wearing the badge than if McLeroy had been reconfirmed last year, or Dunbar appointed in his stead. Last September Lowe was marching in lockstep with the Republican theocracy crowd, signing and distributing an email encouraging public schools to use the disputed Bible curriculum in science classes; one which legal experts predicted would land them in court.

"It's absolutely jaw-dropping," said Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, speaking of the e-mail circulated by board members Terri Leo, R-Spring, Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, and Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas. "It would be challenging for any school district to teach a Bible course in a way that satisfied all its constituencies, but this particular course is especially troubling.”

Texas is in the same deep doo doo as much of the rest of the country when it comes to this kind of actions. Science is holding on, but only by the sheerest of threads. The Christian right marches on and the forces of ignorance have not rested in their efforts to subjugate the citizens of this country under a Christian theocracy. Their goal is to chain us to Biblical law; science be damned.

The lure of the dark side must be powerful and the mental fog created by the faithful blinding, as electronic communications have made the world a smaller place and knowledge of dreadful acts perpetuated by theocratic dictatorships is forever in our faces. We must wonder how the theocrats fail to see the folly in such ideas. One has only to look at the Islamic theocracies in the Middle East and Africa to understand the danger.



Anonymous said...

MB, I'm sure there are thousands and thousands of intelligent, aware folk who live in Texas. Is it so bad there that all of them ignore what goes on politically from day to day or did they stop breeding years ago and all their children are out of school?
I just don't ever see or hear much outrage or protests from the locals when they get screwed over and over.
I feel sorry for the citizens of Texas, but they seem to be content with their situation . . .

Mule Breath said...

jeg, it seems that the rational are outnumbered here in Texas. We protest, but with a wingnut governor and the Legislature sporting a hefty right wing majority, our protests are impotent. Just as on the SBOE, the majority is with the Christian revisionists, mostly elected by rural populations.

The only reason the situation about which I write came to light was because of progressive, rational protest by those who hold science dear. McLeroy was rejected because the Lege saw a popular uprising, and now Perry is trying an end run.

The anti-intellectuals have Texas in a choke hold, but rational Texans will not say uncle.

jbrock said...

Science is holding on, but only by the sheerest of threads.

Perhaps this phenomenon is limited to the so-called 'Red' states of the USA. Behold:

That's an by Andrew Sullivan, reposted at richarddawkins.net and titled 'There's a new power in America - atheism'. I'm assuming that 'science' and 'atheism' are, in this instance as in most politically charged debate, being treated as essentially interchangeable terms.

(Just for the record, though: being Catholic myself, I see no allies on either 'left or 'right', so I offer the above on a purely FWIW basis.)

BTW, I've been enjoying your blog for a while now, and expect to continue doing so. It's always interesting.

Rogue Medic said...

Maybe they will bankrupt a few school districts as a demonstration of their misinterpretation of both the Bible and the Constitution.

Mule Breath said...


Welcome to the sand pile. Always a pleasure when a lurker decides to participate.

Thanks for the link. Sully is a clear thinker and fine orator. In this piece he takes the hazardous ground and speaks the truth about the statistics. I say hazardous because, although their number is being diminished, the Christian right wingnuts remain a potently deadly force in this country, and Sully's piece could easily be interpreted as threatening their turf.

I'm assuming that 'science' and 'atheism' are, in this instance as in most politically charged debate, being treated as essentially interchangeable terms.

The terms may be interchangeable in many instances of conversation such as this, but that is not necessarily always the truth. The variable would be one's definition of atheism. If one defines that term as a belief system (I believe there is no god), then it would not be interchangeable, If one defines it simply, it means without god or something similar (I have no evidence of god), then interchangeability is possible.

In my diatribe, I use the term science as an opposite to untestable faith, and atheist as an opposite to religionist.

Mule Breath said...


Local taxpayers would carry the load while the SBOE members would continue drawing their wages without missing a beat... or a meal.