Texas Ed Board Member Uses Prayer to Make a Political Point
TFN President: Dunbar's Actions Poison Good Will in Debate about What Students Should Learn about Protections for Religious Freedom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2010
As the Texas State Board of Education prepared this morning to debate what public school students should learn in their social studies classes about religious freedom and separation of church and state, one board member demonstrated precisely why the issue is so important, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.
"What happened this morning was a calculated and shameful attempt to use prayer to score political points," Miller said. "Thanks to the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, everyone in this country has the right to pray and practice their faith as they choose. When elected officials purposely use prayer to alienate people who don't share their particular religious or political beliefs, they demonstrate precisely why the Founders were wise to keep government out of matters of faith."
Miller was reacting to the board's opening prayer this morning by board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond. A two-minute video of the full prayer is available at:
Laying out in blunt language the "Christian nation" vision of American history that the board's powerful bloc of social conservatives espouses, Dunbar threw down the gauntlet:
"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...the same objective is present -- a Christian land governed by Christian principles."
". . . 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."
Dunbar, in her 2008 book, One Nation Under God, argued that the Founders created "an emphatically Christian government" (page 18 of her book) and that government should be guided by a “biblical litmus test” (page 47). Even more damning, this State Board of Education member wrote that public education is a "subtly deceptive tool of perversion," tyrannical and unconstitutional.
The board is expected to vote this afternoon on final adoption of proposed curriculum standards for social studies classes in Texas public schools.
A Texas Freedom Network Education Fund poll released on Thursday reveals that 68 percent of likely voters in Texas believe separation of church and state is a key principle of the Constitution. The poll of 601 likely voters was conducted May 4-12 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. It has a margin of sampling error of +/- 4.0 percentage points. Question wording and results are available at http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/TFNEF_EdPoll_GQRR_5.2010.pdf?docID.
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support religious freedom, public education and individual liberties.