The campaign to inject religion — specifically, protestant evangelical Christianity — into the nation’s public schools ran into a bit of a snag a few years ago, when “intelligent design” was found by a federal court to have been a fraudulent cover for “creationism,” which itself had been ruled a religion. Of course, they haven’t given up — religionazis don’t know how to give up! — but they’ve changed tactics.

Instead of trying to get their religion into public-school science classrooms via the “intelligent design” scam, they’re now working instead on getting it into history classrooms. The (UK) Guardian reports on one such effort that’s well under way in Texas:

The Christian right is making a fresh push to force religion onto the school curriculum in Texas with the state’s education board about to consider recommendations that children be taught that there would be no United States if it had not been for God.

Members of a panel of experts appointed by the board to revise the state’s history curriculum, who include a Christian fundamentalist preacher who says he is fighting a war for America’s moral soul, want lessons to emphasise the part played by Christianity in the founding of the US and that religion is a civic virtue.

Opponents have decried the move as an attempt to insert religious teachings in to the classroom by stealth, similar to the Christian right’s partially successful attempt to limit the teaching of evolution in biology lessons in Texas.

Having a degree in history I find this effort repugnant. Religionists typically believe themselves to possess credentials in the field of history, merely by virtue of their beliefs. The truth is, they have no understanding of the subject. And their lack of understanding is betrayed by the claims they make about this effort.

There is nothing about Christianity that made the development of democracy in the US inevitable. Christian doctrine does not acknowledge any role for “the people” or “the masses” to control anything — ever.

The only forms of government dealt with in the Bible, are monarchies (e.g. when the Hebrews were in Egypt, and later their own monarchy which became two), tribal confederations (i.e. the Judges period), and then in the New Testament, the Roman state. In the Bible and other writings, Christians are exhorted to obey the authorities whom God has ordained (cf e.g. Romans 13:1-3). These orders to Christians further the cause of autocracy and dictatorship, rather than democracy, and do not even allow for a vox populi to guide the state.

Later in the Middle Ages, in western Europe, Christianity enveloped itself around the notion of monarchies. The coronation of monarchs and princes, for instance, became a religious rite (even though it was never called a “sacrament”). The same was true even for lower levels of nobility … being named a knight, for instance, often included the saying of a Mass. For centuries, far from agitating for democracy, Christianity wrapped its tentacles around western Europe’s feudal system and clamped down on it, controlling it whenever and wherever possible.

In the eastern Roman Empire, the state was even more closely tied to Christianity. Byzantine emperors meddled in religious affairs regularly, and for the most part, either appointed patriarchs and bishops, or were consulted on their appointment. Many ministers of the Byzantine government were themselves clergy or oblates in service to the Church.

These history-revising religionazis also have a twisted notion of historical causation. While the majority of the colonial population was Christian, this does not mean their Christian beliefs brought about democracy there. It merely means that most of those who decided to build a democracy, were Christians. It doesn’t mean any more than that.

If anyone thinks children are well-served by Texas’s current Bible-thumper-run public education system, the Guardian article makes a sound point:

There’s no doubt that history education needs a boost in Texas.

According to test results, one-third of students think the Magna Carta was signed by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and 40% believe Lincoln’s 1863 emancipation proclamation was made nearly 90 years earlier at the constitutional convention.

Way to go, Texas fundies. Y’all’re teachin’ dem dere chilluns ’bout Gawd ‘n’ all … but y’all’re fogittin’ da udder stuff dey needs ta know.

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