Good grief. Cynthia Dunbar has demonstrated once again the kind of religious and political extremism that currently dominates the Texas State Board of Education — and the reason academic experts and classroom teachers should be guiding the process of revising curriculum standards for public schools, not politicians with personal agendas.
Speaking last week on a far-right talk show, The American View, (read more about the show here) Dunbar — a Richmond Republican representing a state board district that stretches from west of Houston to Austin — attacked public education and even the religious faith of people who don’t agree with her. She also repeated her infamous attack on President Obama as a terrorist sympathizer. And as the state board prepares to take a final vote next month on social studies curriculum standards for public schools, Dunbar suggested that supporters of separation of church and state don’t understand the Constitution and that the drafters of the First Amendment had no concerns “whatsoever” for the nonreligious.
Describing Dunbar as a “Christian with a brain” and a “Bible-believing Christian lady,” show host John Lofton said people who call themselves Christians (but who don’t agree with people like Dunbar) “need to be re-educated.” Appearing to share Dunbar’s contempt for public education, he also repeatedly attacked government-funded schools. Not only did Dunbar never challenge those statements, she reinforced them in her own comments.
On public education, Dunbar didn’t back away from her assertion that public schools are unconstitutional and even “tyrannical,” as she wrote in her book One Nation Under God. The Founders never intended for the country to have government-supported public schools, she argued. She also suggested — ironically, to say the least — that public education allows government to promote political agendas (such as “socialized health care”):
“There was never a tax-supported public entity. It was community education where the parents and the families came together and coalesced for the benefit of educating their society, which is a good and positive thing. . . . [James] Madison said error steeped in precedent leads to tyranny. When you allow something that was wrong to be repeated over and over and over, everybody accepts it as the norm, and it becomes the norm, and nobody even questions it. But once you allow something to become a tax-supported public entity, a governmental entity, you’re absolutely right, there’s no way it can not be political. And you just can’t keep that out of the classroom.”
Dunbar also suggested that the First Amendment does not prevent government from promoting religion. In fact, in one jumbled statement Dunbar’s suggested that the Founders who drafted and debated the First Amendment didn’t even intend to protect atheists:
“They didn’t want in any way religion to be chilled. They certainly didn’t want to have any concern whatsoever for the, quote-unquote, nonreligious, which is the new standard that we know, as far as seeing what the Supreme Court in promoting secularism, ultimately by inhibiting any religious instruction.”
And Dunbar’s contempt even for other people of faith — if they don’t share her particular religious views — was clear when she talked about supporters of sound science during the state board’s debate last year over what students in science classrooms should learn about evolution:
“Most of the time when we would hear people stand up to speak, it would start out something like this: ‘I am a person of faith, my faith defines me, HOWEVER.’ And then they would start making distinctions as to how their world view doesn’t impact every area of their life. Which in fact it does. What they don’t realize is that they have bought into a secular ideology, a secular humanist belief system.”
Dunbar also revisted an essay she wrote in 2008 attacking then-candidate Barack Obama shortly before the presidential election. In her essay, Dunbar charged that Obama as president would welcome another terrorist attack on America because he sympathized with the nation’s enemies and would use such an attack as an excuse to declare martial law and throw out the Constitution. Speaking on Lofton’s show, Dunbar focused more on home-grown terrorism this time:
“There’s no question that there’s documentation that he in fact has sympathies with people like Bill Ayers and others that clearly we would call terorristic threats.”
She went on to claim that the Homeland Security Department believes that people who oppose abortion and support gun rights under the Second Amendment are the real terrorist threats to America today.