Rives Campaign Still Not Telling the Truth

We told you last month how Randy Rives is playing fast and loose with the truth in his campaign to unseat Texas State Board of Education incumbent Bob Craig in tomorrow’s Republican Primary. Yesterday Rives’ campaign continued to distort the truth on a key issue from the candidate’s past — the decision by the Ector County (Odessa)  Independent School District board of trustees, then headed by Rives, to adopt a Bible course curriculum that got the district sued.

Writing as a representative of Rives’ campaign, Cyndi Ortiz criticized the San Angelo Standard-Times for supposedly getting the facts wrong in recently describing Rives’ role in the Bible course debate. The newspaper had written that Rives’ “defining act” as a school board trustee was “leading implementation of a Bible course whose curriculum was so flawed that it had to be pulled.”

Ortiz claims that the district replaced the problematic curriculum on its own, not because of a lawsuit filed  by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of eight Odessa parents. Those parents had argued that the curriculum was unconstitutional because it promoted a literal, fundamentalist Protestant interpretation of the Bible over all others. Ortiz disingenously counters:

Randy and one other board member went through mediation. However, no agreement was reached.

The board decided, even though there was nothing wrong with the current curriculum, they would review and accept a new curriculum presented to them. The proposed curriculum was presented as the curriculum that could be used in Bible courses used in other Texas districts. It also would continue to allow the students to use their own version of the Bible as the course textbook.

The ACLU dropped its suit once the new curriculum was accepted. The Ector County Board’s criteria of allowing students to use their own Bible as the textbook was met with this curriculum.

At no time did the court, the school board or any other official authority assert or prove the curriculum was flawed or inaccurate.

It’s bizarre to argue that the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement but then acknowledge that the lawsuit was dropped after the school district did precisely what the plaintiffs wanted — for the district to stop using the flawed curriculum. From the New York Times story about the lawsuit:

As part of the settlement, the district agreed to use a new curriculum developed by a committee of local educators.

“It’s great that the two parties were able to come together and work out a solution,” the district’s interim superintendent, Hector Mendez, said in a statement.

The facts are pretty simple: Rives rammed through a Bible course curriculum that was deeply flawed (something he and other board members had already been warned about). Local parents then sued because they thought it was wrong to force taxpayers to pay for a public school class that promoted the religious views of some — primarily fundamentalist Protestants — over those of everybody else. To end the lawsuit, the district agreed to change the curriculum to one that didn’t violate the religious freedom of students and taxpayers.

And all of that — including the wasting of tax dollars on the first curriculum and in responding to the lawsuit — could have been avoided if Rives hadn’t been more interested in promoting his own ideological views over the education of schoolchildren in Odessa. Now he wants to take his reckless ways to Austin as a member of the State Board of Education.

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5 Comments

  1. Charles
    Posted March 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    TFN is right Bob Ames.

    I am a Christian too, as are most of the other people in my extended family. I disagree with a great deal of Christian fundamentalist and Christian Neo-Fundamentalist theology, as do millions of other Christians in Texas, the United States, and around the world. Most of us who disagree with you folks on matters of theology nonetheless respect your God-given and constitutional rights to believe whatever you think is right. We believe you have a right to broadcast what you believe to others through normal channels and to witness about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ within the same reasonable limits that we are allowed under the U.S. constitution. We do the same ourselves. So, you say, what is the problem?

    The problem is that you Christian fundamentalists and Christian Neo-Fundamentalists are not contented to just leave it there and abide in peace and love with your neighbors as most everyone else does within the circle of faith and even outside of it. The problem is you people’s religious arrogance and how you apply that unloving arrogance to your neighbors, both those inside and outside of the church. You people appear to be utterly convinced of your own righteousness in all things and so utterly convinced of everyone else’s unrighteousness in most things. Because you are so right and everyone else is so wrong, you people apparently believe you have a God-given right to take over the reigns of government at all levels and use its laws, authority, and police power to force your particular religious beliefs on everyone else in American society, including other Christians. That’s the key problem Bob.

    In the Bible, God himself does not go as far off the deep end as you people do. God respects human conscience and gives everyone on the Earth the right to believe as they choose and the right to freely accept his gift of salvation through Jesus Christ by grace or reject it. God may not be a respecter of person’s, but he is a respecter of human conscience. The Bible makes that crystal clear. Therefore, who are people like you to go beyond where God himself chooses to stop and try to impose your narrow range of religious beliefs on every public school child in Texas, regardless of the differing beliefs at the many and varied churches of their parents, as well as the beliefs of parents who might also disagree with you for nonreligious reasons? I will ask it three times for emphasis. When did you people become God? When did you people become God? When did you people become God?

    Go to Genesis 1 and read carefully. You will find the precise definition of “Original Sin,” as it was called many centuries later. It was man and woman’s desire to be God—to bump God off his heavenly throne and play God. For heaven’s sake you people, consider the possibility that you might not be God and that you could be frail, human, and prone to error like every other human being on this planet. Get some good, old-fashioned Biblical humility and reconsider the “wisdom” of using the power of government to horsewhip your neighbors into believing and behaving exactly as you do. Shoe a little love for your neighbor and show some “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  2. Bob
    Posted March 1, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    You guys aren’t even close to knowing the truth about this issue. Point 1 over 6000 citizens signed a petition asking for this curriculum it was not the evil plot of Rives. Point 2 Rives was only one vote out of seven, hardly a one man juggernaught. So 8 anti-religious zealots outweigh the voice of over 6000 parents/citizens for an ELECTIVE course. Why do you people hate religion & Christians so much?

    • Posted March 1, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      Ah, the “hate religion and Christians” argument. Well, that won’t work here, Bob. You probably don’t know that the Texas Freedom Network includes hundreds of Christian, Jewish and other clergy from around the state as part of our Texas Faith Network. You probably also don’t know that clergy sit on our board of directors. And you likely don’t know that the person responding to you now is a Christian educated in parochial school. The truth is that those who opposed the Ector County school board’s irresponsible decision did not “hate religion and Christians.” What they oppose is using everyone’s tax dollars to promote the religious beliefs of some over all others. They also oppose a school board wasting taxpayer dollars defending a lawsuit that could have been avoided had the board simply obeyed the law. And they especially dislike the argument that anyone who disagrees with the Ector County school board — and people like you — are somehow “anti-religion.” We support religious freedom for everyone — and that means we think teaching faith beliefs is the job of families and congregations, not public schools.

  3. Donald M
    Posted March 1, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    We cant take away the right of the fundies to express their lies; otherwise they would have noithing to say.

  4. Charles
    Posted March 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    You people here at TFN just don’t understand. Protestant fundamentalists are the last possessors of “sole truth.” They feel as if they are on their last leg and drawing their last breath. Apart from FOX news, the public schools are their last hope. If they can sneak in while the parents are not looking and indoctrinate their kids in the tenets of Christian fundamentalism, they might just stand a fighting chance for recruiting a new generation of mindless fundie robots and saving their “religious race,” as it were.

    I hope all of the Catholics, United Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and the other well-churched mainline Christians in Texas who have different ideas about the religious education of their children (like down at their church) will use tomorrow’s election as an opportunity to stop this intrusive crap in Mr. Rives’ district.

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