11:23 – Kelly Shackelford, head of the Liberty Institute/Free Market Foundation, the Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the Family, is up. Shackelford argues that the words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution. Neither, we might say, is “fair trial,” “separation of powers” “checks and balances” and other basic constitutional principles. Shackelford thinks “separation of church” is being used to “abuse” the freedom of students. He wants students to contrast the intent of the Founders (or what he believes was the intent of the Founders) who wrote the Constitution with the phrase “separation of church and state.”
11:32 – Board member David Bradley calls separation of church and state a “myth.” He notes that the Ten Commandments adorn federal buildings like the Supreme Court.
11:34 – Shackelford: There are people who want to engage in a “religious cleansing” in this country. He argues that students are being punished for expressing their faith in public schools.
11:37 – Board member Cynthia Dunbar: “tremendous confusion” about how the First Amendment should be implemented in relation to religious freedom. It’s hard to disagree — people like Dunbar and Shackelford have worked hard make it confusing.
11:39 – Board member Barbara Cargill: students used to be taught correctly about the First Amendment’s protection for religious freedom (meaning that they weren’t taught about separation of church and state).
11:46 – Rick Green, a motivational speaker for David Barton’s WallBuilders who lost a bid for the Republican nomination for a state Supreme Court seat this spring, was supposed to be next. A speaker named Jason Moore is up instead. Moore is arguing about the importance of promoting “American exceptionalism.” He claims that university professors earlier this year were testifying before the board in favor of socialism as the preferred “form of government” for America. Ummm… Jason, who? He offers no names, of course. We certainly remember no university professors making such statements.
11:57 – Regarding separation of church and state and religious freedom, we think these words from former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s opinion in a 2005 church-state case are appropriate: “Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?” One recalls that Justice O’Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan.
12:22 – Board members were permitted to invite one speaker each to address the board early in the hearing. Invited testifiers are now done. Nearly 200 other speakers are on the list of testifiers. We find it hard to imagine that the board will hear from them all before breaking tonight. The board is about to break for a short lunch.
12:28 – Just broke for lunch. Now we’re off to the “Don’t White-Out Our History” rally!