‘Christian Land Governed by Christian Principles’

Even before the Texas State Board of Education took up its expected debate today over what students will learn about separation about church and state in their social studies classrooms, board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, made her position clear. She offered the board’s opening prayer this morning and removed any doubt about what she and other far-right board members want students to learn: America’s laws and government should be based on the Christian Bible.

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.”

You will recall that 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.

And today she will help decide what the next generation of Texas students will learn about separation of church and state in their public school classrooms.

UPDATE: This isn’t the first time Dunbar has used prayer and religion to push an agenda.

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167 Comments

  1. David
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    Well spoken, Charles.

  2. Charles
    Posted June 8, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Lt. Dan said:

    “This is my last post for a wile, I am quite ill, and the pills I have to take really sap my strength.”

    I am sorry to hear that Dan. It sounds as if you might be a senior citizen. If it is any consolation to you, it is normal to feel the way you do at this time in your life. Every generation would like to die off believing that the things they valued will live on and that the particular way of life and worldview that they most liked will endure forever. That is never the case. Other than death and taxes, the other constant in life is change. I watched a couple of generations of my own family die off. A number of them were distraught that the world they lived in had become a foreign place. My step-grandfather could not cope emotionally with the 1969 moon landings. He believed that space was God’s realm and that there was a barrier that would prevent space travel into God’s holy territory; therefore, the moon landings had to be fake.

    I am getting up in years, and I feel the same way myself to some extent. I grew up in a world where people loved each other, cared for each over, and people were more important than “things.” That world of my youth is slipping away now and giving way to an American culture that values “me first and everyman for himself,” individuals living a life filled with personal greed, worship of dollars and things, and evangelical/fundamentalist churches who are all too willing to craft a new Christian theology to baptize and bless the full spectrum of that evil. This is a sad time to be a poor person, a sick person, a hungry person, etc. A good example of it is happening right here in my own town. About 10 years ago, local businessmen and civic leaders came of with a workable idea on how to help homeless people—one that has actually worked in other places. However, they forgot one important factor when they finally got enough funds (much of it private) to implement the plan. No one wants an apartment residence building for homeless (or I should say formerly homeless) people in their neighborhood. Best I can tell, evangelical/fundamentalist Christians (along with others) have been showing up in force with a mob attitude to prevent effective help for the homeless. Operative theme: “Not in my backyard.” Every place they try to locate a new building, the outraged residents show up to shoot it down. Last, I heard, they were talking about giving up on the plan. Headline: “God’s People Shaft Homeless at Every Turn.”

  3. Ben
    Posted June 8, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Dan should read this study:

    http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

    Here’s a highlight:

    In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 1-9). The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a “shining city on the hill” to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures of societal health. Youth suicide is an exception to the general trend because there is not a significant relationship between it and religious or secular factors. No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular denial of evolution with high rates of societal health. Higher rates of non-theism and acceptance of human evolution usually correlate with lower rates of dysfunction, and the least theistic nations are usually the least dysfunctional. None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction. In some cases the highly religious U.S. is an outlier in terms of societal dysfunction from less theistic but otherwise socially comparable secular developed democracies. In other cases, the correlations are strongly graded, sometimes outstandingly so.

  4. Ben
    Posted June 8, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    “Nice statement of values and belief, sort of reminds me of the Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, ever read it?”

    There were three. And they remind you of the principles above? Wow. That’s just weird. And you don’t support your claim with any facts. I could just as easily say you remind me of a Nazi. Does that make it true?

    “Yes there is a magic wand for one to convert an entire population to Atheism, it is called the gun”

    So if someone points a gun at a theist, they will become an atheist? That’s all it takes? Boy, I bet none of the believers on this site will agree with that.

    “Remember that Lenin and Stalin murdered 30,000,000 Russians before WWII, for such crimes blah blah blah”

    Totalitarianism was the problem, not atheism. They wanted to stamp out religion because they considered it a hurdle. Atheism simply means a lack of belief in a god. It carries with it NO other meaning. You can try to link atheism to a political agenda, but it just makes you look foolish. There are atheist liberals, atheist conservatives, atheist libertarians, atheist independents, atheist moderates, etc. There are atheist doctors, atheist police officers, atheist firefighters, atheist philanthropists, atheist humanitarians.

    “BTW China has the largest population of Christians on earth now, between 180 and 200 million despite or maybe because of relentless persecution”

    Then why doesn’t somebody simply point a gun at these Christians, because then they’d instantly become atheists. You said so yourself. You realize how ridiculous you sound?

    “All men have a god”

    Simply untrue. I don’t have one. If you say I am my own god, you don’t understand the definition of god.

    “This is my last post for a wile”

    One can only hope.

    “Who says stop to the man who believes there are no consequences if you aren’t caught.”

    Sam Harris sums it up well: If a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness. We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.

  5. David
    Posted June 8, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    The problem with having people’s morality enforced by the fear of going to hell is that you have to BELIEVE these people when they say that.
    Then you have to BELIEVE that they’re right.
    Better off just having a common sense set of written laws for how people will conduct themselves, and then just go by that.
    Like a constitution, say.

  6. David
    Posted June 8, 2010 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    Lt. Dan , yes there were Nazis who enjoyed the “neopagan” mythology, however, the fact that we’re discussing is that Hitler commandeered the Christian religion, and then fused it with any other ideas that he and Goebbels, Himmler, etc liked in order to manipulate the less self-aware and educated in his society.
    One of their major tenets was “German exceptionalism”. I.E. aryan superiority.
    Does that sound familiar?
    I’ll ask it again. Does that sound …ing FAMILIAR?
    ps. Moral relativism. Most “moral relativists” don’t posit the idea as an excuse for their own behavior, they just point out that it’s a fact of human nature.
    For instance, the Commandment that men remember the sabbath and keep it holy: there was a time that that phrase had a non relativistic, unambiguous meaning.
    Now, Christians think that it’s ok to rush through the Sunday service in order to to make it home in time for NFL Sunday.
    What’s your “morally un-relative opinion on that, Lt. Dan?

  7. Posted June 8, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    No Ben, I talked to these sad old men to see what they learned going through totalitarianism while I did volunteer work at the Omlahous. It took me about two years before I knew enough German and they knew me well enough to share their past. Nice statement of values and belief, sort of reminds me of the Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, ever read it? Yes there is a magic wand for one to convert an entire population to Atheism, it is called the gun (or applied power of the state). Remember that Lenin and Stalin murdered 30,000,000 Russians before WWII, for such crimes as Counter-revolutionary Activity, (going to Church), Possession of unlicensed Literature, (a Bible), or being a Class Criminal, ( a priest, minister or rabbi). Atheism was imposed as rigorously as any Catholic Inquisition . Communism felt a threat from any one of faith, because they know that the State is their God. Any authority accepted besides the state is treason. China is going gang busters on Christians now, for this orthodox Marxist tenet.( BTW China has the largest population of Christians on earth now, between 180 and 200 million despite or maybe because of relentless persecution). All men have a god, it has absolutely nothing to do with what they say, or creeds or any of that dung. Their God is shown in what they do, how they treat themselves and others. BTW you know less than nothing about the New Testament. The rule broken was not Scriptural, it was Talmudic. This is my last post for a wile, I am quite ill, and the pills I have to take really sap my strength. My problem with the philosophy of Atheism, Humanism, etc. is the problem man has had from the dawn of time, All men from time to time want to dominate and control others, hence slavery, tyranny, crime, violence etc. I feel a little safer with a person who believes if he does bad things during his lifetime hes going to a really bad place instead of his pie in the sky if he has power over me. Who says stop to the man who believes there are no consequences if you aren’t caught.

  8. Charles
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    “Militant Athleticism” in action:

  9. Ben
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Lt Dan looks to former Nazis for advice, yet he distrusts humanists because of their “Athleticism.”

    Watch out for Gerbils. They shred newspapers, from what I understand.

    Surely you aren’t for real…right?

  10. Charles
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Ben: Excellent responses to Forrest Gump, Jr.

    Ben said: “Yet again we see that when ideas are considered to be more valuable than people it is inevitably followed by tragedy and atrocity.”

    This was one of the central principles in the ministry of Jesus. It shows up in other places in the New Testament, but the best example may be here: Luke 6: 2 through 10. Notice that Jesus chooses the person over the idea or rule. I’d just love to air drop Jesus into a Tea Party meeting. It would be so much fun!!! I would absolutely have to bring a movie camera and some good audio.

  11. Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Ben, I have lived in countries that are ruled by secular humanest mentality, I reject the moral relativism, the absence of values, the indifference of the sheeple. Ben do a little research, Who are the founders of this school of thought- hint it goes back a little further than 30 years. How about mid 19th century?
    “A primary concern” I’ve seen that in action in Europa, say an unacceptable statement and the man comes and takes you away, to correct your “misconceptions”. Ask any Christian that practice their faith in England, France, Germany etc.
    Secular Humanism is a militant form of Athleticism

  12. Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Ben should read his book “The Rise and Fall again, especially the parts about propaganda and the cult of antisemitism. Don’t quote that one balled, coke head, paper hanger to me, Most of what he said was a lie, created by Gerbils to advance their agenda. Read again and see the National Socialist Workers Party’ s enrapture with the Occult and neo-paganism, especially within the SS. They were far from practicing Christians, after they took power they were militantly anti-Christian,( as the murder of 15,000 priests and ministers attest), going so far to expect good Germans to have their children pray to Hitler at bed time. I lived in BRD for 5 years. I knew several former Nazi (back in the 80s). Here is some of the advice these old men gave me.
    Any charismatic speaker, should be read slowly and dispassionately, to ascertain his true objectives.
    Any charismatic leader, will take power and continue to expand his power until some one has the courage to oppose him, then you will know by that individuals reaction to opposition weather he is a leader or a tyrant.
    All government is basically evil, the amount of evil a government does is in direct proportion to the amount of power the governed allow it.

    Beware any one who has an enemies list, who are the cause of all the ills that plague society, he is the “Father of Lies” .

  13. Ben
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    But wait! There’s more!

    The Affirmations of Humanism:
    A Statement of Principles

    We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.

    We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.

    We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.

    We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.

    We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.

    We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.

    We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.

    We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.

    We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.

    We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.

    We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.

    We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.

    We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.

    We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.

    We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.

    We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.

    We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.

    We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.

    We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others.

    We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.

    We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.

  14. Ben
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Lt Dan, just to make it easy, I’ll list those tenets again here. Tell me which ones you don’t like.

    ——————————-

    What Is Secular Humanism?

    Secular Humanism is a term which has come into use in the last thirty years to describe a world view with the following elements and principles:

    A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.

    Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions.

    A primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.
    A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.

    A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.

    A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.

    A conviction that with reason, an open marketplace of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children.

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