Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why is a historical revisionist deciding how Texas students are taught history?

The Texas State Board of Education will soon appoint a social studies curriculum “expert” panel. One of the nominees is the unqualified ideologue David Barton, whose degree is in religious education, not the social sciences. Mr. Barton is a well known practitioner of historical revisionism arguing among other things that separation of church and state is a “myth” foisted on us by the Supreme Court.

The authenticity of some of the quotes he uses is questionable at best. One attributed to James Madison claiming that the future of the U.S. government is "staked upon...the Ten Commandments" does not appear in any of Madison's known writings. Madison scholars do not acknowledge it as genuine.

Barton also has used a quote from Thomas Jefferson regarding the “wall between church and state” from his 1802 letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist Association claiming that it suggests protecting the church from the state but not the other way around. If you take the time to actually read Jefferson's letter you see that Barton is totally wrong. Jefferson's letter says nothing about the wall being "one directional" and certainly doesn’t suggest that it was meant to keep "Christian principles" in government. Nowhere in Jefferson's known writings or speeches do such sentiments appear. In fact, Barton’s claims conflict sharply with Jefferson’s well documented advocacy of church-state separation and religious freedom.

Barton’s claims are not merely revisionism, they are anti-historical and such behavior should be unacceptable in someone charged with approving standards for our children’s history textbooks.

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