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Critics of a recent successful move to restore some of America’s traditional historical references to textbooks in Texas launched a long list of criticisms against a conservative education board member who dared to mention Jesus and the Christian faith in a meeting invocation.
Then the critics discovered the words were penned by the late Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, whose tenure on the court was marked by the removal of prayer from public schools and other similar moves.
“Those who wish to revise American history are often ignorant of history,” said Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. “Some secularists wish to revise history in order to bury America’s rich religious heritage.
“It was the Great Awakening that preceded the American Revolution. Without a religious revival, there would have been no lasting civil liberty, and without the American Revolution, there would be no America,” he said.
“Those who wish to exclude God from our history either suffer from dementia or are dishonest,” said Staver.
The invocation delivered by Texas Board of Education Member Cynthia Dunbar, a professor at Liberty University School of Law, has been posted online:
The text read:
“I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. Whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia or the Charter of New England or the Charter of Massachusetts Bay or the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the same objective is present – a Christian land governed by Christian principles. I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people…I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.”
The invocation came near the end of arguments over textbook standards that will be used in Texas for the next 10 years. Board members approved 9-5 a series of changes that emphasize the teaching of American history and rejected attempts by historical revisionists to change significant parts of the nation’s story, officials said.
Justice Earl Warren
After Dunbar’s invocation, the Texas Freedom Network, which promoted the progressive changes, wrote a scathing article.
“She offered the board’s opening prayer this morning and removed any doubt about what she and other far-right board members want students to learn: America’s laws and government should be based on the Christian Bible,” said the criticism.
But Liberty Counsel pointed out the faux pas.
The words were Warren’s, the liberal activist who served on the high court from 1953-1969, from a Time magazine article.
Staver told WND that many who offered criticism of Dunbar were quick to “scurry and run for cover” when they discovered the actual source of the words.
Condemnation posted on the Texas Freedom Network Insider included:
- From Steven Schafersman: “Invocations like this at the beginning of state agency meetings by public officials are, in my opinion, terribly bigoted in addition to being nonsense. By her remarks, Dunbar disenfranchised all in the audience who follow different faiths or no faith.”
- From “fireweaver”: “Will Ms Dunbar start calling for a Christian form of Shariah law? She sounds like someone who would find that appealing. She’s whack.”
- From “Keanus”: “Dunbar, and the entire Christian Right, believes teaching, indoctrination and preaching are synonyms. For that reason they are doomed to a life time of ignorance, and, worse, blithely ignorant of their ignorance.”
- From “Thomas”: “Dunbar is a subversive, traitorous threat to the national security of the United States as are all Christian domestic terrorists of her ilk.
- From “Siobhan”: “This woman can go to hell – and take the rest of her religious wingnut friends with her. I’ve already lived with this enough. I’ve seen first hand what it’s done to my relatives in Ireland.”
One commenter was watching carefully and apparently knew history, writing:
“Cynthia Dunbar must have been chuckling to herself as she laid plans for offering this ‘prayer.’ Between the opening lines (‘Heavenly Father … As we look to our past to guide us, let us reflect on the convictions of those who have gone before us.’) and a particularly non-inclusive closing (‘All this I pray in the name of MY lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.’), she inserted an excerpt of a speech given by Chief Justice Earl Warren at the 1954 National Prayer Breakfast as quoted contemporaneously in Time magazine. Clever.”
At the Texas Tribune, Brian Thevenot wrote that after the fact, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller was unamused.
He quoted her: “Making a joke out of a prayer to score a political point? Now that cheapens faith for us all.”
The textbook dispute caught the attention of columnist Phyllis Schlafly, who noted the Texas school board’s nationwide influence on textbook publishers because of the size of the state’s market.
She pointed out education “experts” in Texas had suggested eliminating from history references to Independence Day, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Edison, Daniel Boone and Neil Armstrong and replacing Christmas with Diwali.
“Liberals don’t like the concept of American exceptionalism. The liberals want to teach what’s wrong with America (masquerading under the code word ‘social justice’) instead of what’s right and successful. The Texas Board voted to include describing how American exceptionalism is based on values that are unique and different from those of other nations,” she said.
But she said the results were good.
“The deceptive claim that the United States was founded on a ‘separation of church and state’ gets the ax, and rightfully so. In fact, most of the original 13 colonies were founded as Christian communities with much overlap between church and state,” she said. “History textbooks that deal with Joseph McCarthy will now be required to explain ‘how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of Communist infiltration in U.S. government.’ The Venona papers are authentic transcripts of some 3,000 messages between the Soviet Union and its secret agents in the United States.”
Likewise, WND columnist Chuck Norris commented.
“Liberals and progressives complain that conservatives are hijacking the curriculum process and modifying textbooks to fit their ideological whims. But the history of textbook alterations has clearly proven it is the former who have changed the course and content of curricula and textbook production. Conservatives have been largely the guardians or preservationists of tradition. Progressives have changed curricula content to pacify the politically correct and adopt what they value today and want others to value tomorrow,” he said.