TFN'S POLITICAL AGENDA
Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
Over 1300 schools in 37 states currently offer an elective course using THE HOLY BIBLE as a textbook, and the State of Texas is currently considering a requirement that all of its 1700 school districts offer history and literature courses using THE HOLY BIBLE as the primary textbook. However, a few months ago, the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) issued a report claiming to have examined various courses offered on THE HOLY BIBLE in Texas high schools, and TFN wasn't very pleased with any of them.
Curiously, TFN seemed to pay a great deal of attention to a curriculum offered by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS). At least 3 times on its website, TFN indicated NCBCPS' claim its curriculum hadn't been contested in court was untrue, and referred to Gibson v. Lee County School Board (M.D. Fla 1998). TFN explained that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had challenged the New Testament portion of the curriculum.
This seemed to be a rather serious charge, until I found out that the ACLU actually argued in court that the Lee County curriculum was NOT the NCBCPS' curriculum. I wondered why the TFN would make such an irresponsible untrue claim, and I found out that TFN is a liberal organization which promotes itself as a "counter to the religious right" and has even opposed the National Day of Prayer.
TFN also charged that NCBCPS has a "political agenda...of dismantling the wall of separation of church and state and increasing the role of religion in public life." To justify such an agenda, TFN claims NCBCPS quotes America's founders out-of-context. However, when one looks at the founder (Thomas Jefferson) responsible for the concept of "separation of church and state," he actually said: "In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general (federal) government. I have left them (free exercises of religion) as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of state or church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies."
Thus, while Jefferson meant religion should be independent of the federal government, by saying that "the direction and discipline of state or church authorities" in this area couldn't be exercised without the acknowledgment of "the several religious societies," it seems clear Jefferson did not oppose "the role of religion" or morality or ethics, etc., "in public life." Indeed, after the Constitution was ratified, the government even funded certain religious activities.
TFN opposes "a certain (fundamentalist) form of Protestantism" in the NCBCPS curriculum, but what does TFN want? A particular denomination's (e.g., Methodist) perspective? No? A curriculum acceptable to all religions? But that would have to omit Christ's claim to be the Son of God, because Muslims and others disagree. Would TFN want a curriculum with no perspective at all? But everyone, including members of TFN, have some religious/ethical perspective.
And besides, all of these courses on THE HOLY BIBLE in public schools are voluntary, so it's not as though Protestantism is being imposed on all students. In fact, NCBCPS tells students to bring their own Bibles from home, so they could bring the King James version, the Catholic Douay-Rheims version, or any other version they wish.
Because public schools do teach values, students must be taught from some perspective, otherwise they are left with moral relativism. And that's not government neutrality toward religion, but rather government discrimination against religion.
I believe members of TFN don't hesitate to share their religious/ethical perspective "in public life." Thus, it seems TFN's opposition to NCBCPS' curriculum probably reflects its own liberal "political agenda." And TFN would do well to remember what Jesus said about hypocrites and those who don't tell the truth.
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© 2007 Dennis Cuddy - All Rights Reserved
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Dennis Laurence Cuddy, historian and political analyst, received a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (major in American History, minor in political science). Dr. Cuddy has taught at the university level, has been a political and economic risk analyst for an international consulting firm, and has been a Senior Associate with the U.S. Department of Education.
Cuddy has also testified before members of Congress on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Cuddy has authored or edited twenty books and booklets, and has written hundreds of articles appearing in newspapers around the nation, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He has been a guest on numerous radio talk shows in various parts of the country, such as ABC Radio in New York City, and he has also been a guest on the national television programs USA Today and CBS's Nightwatch.
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Over 1300 schools in 37 states currently offer an elective course using THE HOLY BIBLE as a textbook, and the State of Texas is currently considering a requirement that all of its 1700 school districts offer history and literature courses using THE HOLY BIBLE as the primary textbook.