Texas textbooks once again pushing exaggerated claims about religion’s role in US history
Scholars examining high school social studies textbooks at the behest of the Texas Freedom Network have determined that the majority of the books adopted for classroom use in 2015 are “flawed” and “distorted,” KEYE TV reports.
The scholars blame the distortions on the politicized standards that the authors were forced to write in accordance with. Kathy Miller, the president of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, said that “the vast majority of the errors and problems with the textbooks stem from that central problem — writing to the standards.”
As Emile Lester, an associate professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington noted in his review of the history textbooks, “the material presented in these textbooks on [the issue of religion and the United States government] seems to have been determined more by political concerns than considerations of good scholarship.”
“For instance, that the Texas [School Board of Education] suggested in a 2009-10 debate over curriculum standards that Moses influenced the writing of the nation’s founding documents and that several textbooks mention Moses’ influence on the Founders seems to be no coincidence,” he noted.
However, “the frequently vague nature of the textbooks’ statements about the influence of Moses and other religious ideas and figures on the Founders seems to indicate that the publishers did not want to be held accountable by scholars” for the claims of Mosaic influence. For example, the McGraw-Hill textbook claimed that “the biblical idea of a covenant…contributed to our constitutional structure.” The Social Studies School Service book contended that “much of the Founders’ commitment to liberty and individual rights” was based on “Christian teaching,” but provided no concrete example of such a connection.
The Pearson textbook explicitly linked Moses to the Founders, claiming that “Moses helped establish a legal system, including the Ten Commandments, to govern his people. Similarly, the founders of the United States wrote the Constitution and established a system of laws to govern Americans. They were also part of a tradition that was familiar with the Ten Commandments as a guide for moral behavior.”
The Founders, Lester noted, did believe in a social contract, but their version “was derived primarily from modern British political thought, and John Locke’s though in particular, [which] was in many ways a repudiation of the biblical covenant view referenced in this passage.” For Locke, the social contract “was a voluntary agreement between only the people and their government,” not between God, the people, and the government, as it was with the Mosaic code.
Other problems with the textbooks included downplaying the role that conquest played in the spread of Christianity, especially when compared to how violence is treated as an integral part of the Islamic faith.
Watch a report over the controversial new textbooks via KEYE TV below.
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