Although climate change denial was removed from textbooks, our school board has stubbornly stuck to it’s guns on including Christianity and Judeo-Christian values (Moses specifically) as the inspiration for America’s form of government.
Although climate change denial was removed from textbooks, our school board has stubbornly stuck to it’s guns on including Christianity and Judeo-Christian values (Moses specifically) as the inspiration for America’s form of government.
“Texas has been red since dinosaurs roamed the state 6,000 years ago. At least that is what the Texas history books say.” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been filming from Austin, TX. this week. After, a clip of the stupid ass things that our elected officials do and say, Stewart made the humorous observation that Texas would vote for a drunk guy in a bar hitting on a lesbian.
Texas is saying goodbye to Rick Perry, whose “austerity” measures included cutting 5 billion dollars from the state’s education budget. The cuts resulted in 25,000 teachers and also tax payers losing their jobs. Meanwhile, Perry and the GOP including Governor hopeful Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor hopeful Dan Patrick, funneled 200 million dollars taxpayer money into the Texas Enterprise Fund.
The fund is being audited, and is widely being called a slush fund. Four companies were given 42 million dollars without even submitting an application. Abbott is our current attorney general, and he issued rulings that suppressed this information from the public. He also received 1.4 million dollars in quid pro quo campaign contributions from these companies.
Stewart was joking about what a lot of Texans will elect here, but it is funny because it isn’t that far off the mark. Abbott is leading so far in the early voting polls in double digits. Wendy Davis is the best thing for Texas right now. She filibustered twice to try to stop draconian educations cuts and abortion over-regulation. But even people like some of the very teachers, who lost their jobs, won’t take a minute to think about it. There are teachers right now in this state, who will still vote red regardless, sitting in overcrowded classrooms trying to teach a tenth of the America’s often poorest students.
It’s not an exaggeration, or Abbott wouldn’t be leading after messing this state over for his own gain. A Davis campaigner came to our door, and told us that people are telling them, “I vote life.” When the GOP is not lining their pockets with tax payer money here, they are spending millions of dollars for extra sessions to pass draconian abortion restrictions that have reduced the state’s abortion clinics from 43 to 8. They have already demonstrated how little they care about educating the children that are already born.
In reality why should they? An uniformed populace keeps electing them, because they think stopping poor women from choosing when or if they will be a parent is what their God wants. Realistically, many Christian women with the means will continue to get abortions.
The beauty of it for the GOP here is that it is self serving because rich Christian values voters are their greatest campaign contributors. They don’t have to fix the real problems this state has, like repeat teen pregnancy, unprepared college students, the shrinking middle class, the loss of living wage revenue generating jobs, storage of hazardous materials, the burgeoning prison population, etc. The solution has always been to refer people to God rather than actually do something about the problems here.
Top all that off with immigration issues exacerbated by a humanitarian crisis caused by the drug war that has been raging in Mexico that has already claimed thousands of lives. Civilians are being beheaded, tortured, raped, and terrorized by drug cartels and members of their own government. Will there be a war on terror there? No. The victims there are frankly not white enough. The United States is the largest consumer of drugs from Mexico. Here on the Texas border our response has been to be Mexico’s largest gun suppliers.
According to the US Government Accountability Office, 87% of firearms seized by Mexico over the previous five years were traced to the US. Texas was the single largest source. The US attorney general, Eric Holder, told Congress last month that of 94,000 weapons captured from drug traffickers by the Mexican authorities, over 64,000 originated in the US.
So not only do we help make a humanitarian crises, by being the largest consumer of illegal drugs, we also supply the guns to Mexico and we still think Iraq is our greatest foreign policy problem. On the borders of Texas, California, and Arizona; people have fought to keep immigrant children from getting asylum from the problem we are complicit in creating in Mexico and Central America.
The problems here in Texas, and the problems we are causing our neighbors are not getting better touting Republican values and pandering to Christians on the taxpayer’s dime in lieu of actual solutions like a sane decriminalized drug policy. Yet we stand here in Texas ready to elect a successor to Perry, who has already shown that he will make things worse. Both GOP candidates are avid creationists.
There is a small hope for the Texas and the rest of the nation. Texas is rapidly browning. It is an irreversible trend that started in 2005 when Texas became one of five majority minority states. Unfortunately, minority voters are disadvantaged in this state by gerrymandering, and SCOTUS overturning the Voting Rights Act which gave the justice department oversight in how districts are drawn. So we do have Texas carved up like a Christmas turkey with as much advantages as can be given to creating Republican districts.
Imagine this for a brief shining moment. All of Texas’s electoral votes going to a blue presidential candidate. The GOP would have to actually stop their pandering and fear mongering and actually do something to maintain their standing, or never have a Republican president ever again. A side note for the secular community, diversity is critical to ensuring a secular government. We don’t want to trade one theocracy for another by not making inroads into minority communities.
But how about the hope for Wendy Davis for governor on November 4th? It is probably no coincidence that hope was included by the Greeks in Pandora’s box. It can be the cruelest emotion. For reasons l already outlined and Stewart joked about, many Texans vote with their gut rather than their brains. The GOP cultivates that here with their insistence on Christian values that are often immoral like forced pregnancy.
However, most religious minorities still vote blue, and they are catching up. The problem with this is they have a more difficult time voting both because of restrictive Republican backed voting laws, and financial reasons like not having a car or not being to get off work to vote. There has been increased minority early voting. This shows that despite obstacles that if there is something to vote for they will turn out.
Davis can still win, but it will require turnout from dissatisfied GOP and Independent women and teachers. The greatest factor will be how apathetic the progressive voters are here. Aron and I often encounter resistance to voting even by secularists here. The response sometimes range from…
This shows they haven’t put much thought into who is running this cycle even after many years of Rick Perry. The best thing to remind people here, who don’t go beyond disgust at politics, is that if you vote the most reasonable candidate that the votes for unreasonable candidates like Abbott will dry up. This has happened in the past when staunch segregationists jumped party lines when they saw the writing on the wall. Better yet, it would make more progressive parties like the Green Party viable, because voters would migrate to the Democratic Party. This would open up more room for a more Progressive party than the Democrats.
Even if they could set aside the millions of human beings that are under the thumb of regressive policies here. They would be okay with having a jingoistic country on their border that would then have almost half of America’s oil reserves. A better dystopian idea would be to set aside a state like maybe Kansas (just joking Kansas) with fewer natural resources, and ship every morally undeveloped, empathy impaired, and therefore stunted human being there. We would ship all the progressives out. Then the citizens of that country could do as they please. They could run freely with scissors till their hearts content, not give a damn about anyone, poke each other’s eyes out, pray to god to make them richer and destroy their enemies… Imagine the possibilities, but we don’t have to unfortunately because we have Texas politics. More or less.
People need to vote. There are other states where the tea party has done a better job of organizing than progressives. That is the one thing they have going for them they don’t sit on their asses hoping for a more god soaked government. They are slowly and maniacally making that a reality all over the country. Progressives take note and provided you don’t have a condition that disenfranchises you like a disability, vote Nov 4th. Even if I wake up to another Tea Party Governor, (Ye non-existent gods noooo!!!!!!) at least I can say I am not part of the problem.
Students from seven suburban Denver high schools walked out yesterday to protest changes to history curriculum proposed by the majority conservative Jefferson County school board. We aren’t just seeing known culture warriors like the Texas Board of Education attempting to promote American Exceptionalism at the expense of accurate history.
So, the comments to the effect of, “Meh, why doesn’t Texas just secede?” These comments are missing the point on several levels.
What is so refreshing about this demonstration is that these students have been taught the history of civil disobedience so well that they are standing up to bigoted authorities. Their teachers also staged a sick out that shut down two schools. The problem isn’t that they don’t understand politics as usual. They don’t shrug their shoulders in response to injustice; they do something about it.
Here are some of the social media parodying some of what the adults in authority would like students to learn about the good ole U.S.A.
If you know history, the protesters of the Civil Rights era would have said, “Right on!” Only this school board doesn’t want you to read about that, because it would destroy the American Exceptionalism myth they want to sell to kids.
When I first started studying for the Texas Social Studies Textbook hearings last week to testify with Aron on Tuesday, I expected to find the most egregious historical misrepresentations by non-mainstream publishers like Worldview Software. And of course they didn’t fail to disappoint. Here is a quote from a Texas Freedom Network briefing to give you the flavor of the worldview they are promoting…
“The spread of international terrorism is an
outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism which opposes Western
political and cultural influences and Western ideology.”
Is that a fact? Are Islamic fundamentalists the only terrorists? Just in case you aren’t sure whether this publisher is being incidentally bigoted, their worldview on the origin of the inhabitants of Africa is straight out of 19th Century racist theories. I quote from here on out from the Washington Post‘s article on the hearing.
WorldView Software – World History A: Early Civilizations to the Mid-1800s
The text states: “South of the Sahara Desert most of the people before the Age of Explorations were black Africans of the Negro race.”
Elsewhere, the text states: “The first known inhabitants of Africa north of the Sahara in prehistory were Caucasoid Hamitic people of uncertain origin.”
“Hamitic” pseudo-scientific theories of the origins of Africans originated in the 19th century’s attempt to explain white supremacist assumptions. They believed that Northern Africans like Egyptians originated from the Biblical story of Noah’s cursed son Ham. They thought that the “Negroid” race as they called it was incapable of building civilizations such as Egypt. They sought to misappropriate their accomplishments to “Caucasoids” such as themselves.
As a teacher, I know that non-mainstream publishers don’t normally make their way into classrooms. No matter how much a crank publisher matches the ideas the right wing ideologues on the State Board of Education want to promote. So at first I wasn’t as worried.
Now that I have reviewed more of what is being published, it is worse than I thought. I am genuinely surprised and disappointed. Even mainstream publishers already on the bookshelves in many Texas classrooms are submitting new texts for adoption that revise history in such a way to emphasize Judeo-Christian influence over the Enlightenment secular ideals that our government is founded on.
McGraw-Hill School Education – United States Government
Text mentions Moses and claims that the “biblical idea of a
covenant, an ancient Jewish term meaning a special kind of
agreement between the people and God, influenced the formation of colonial governments and contributed to our constitutional structure.”
Let me get this straight our government is based on the covenant god gave to Moses in The Torah? The one most American’s break when they have pork ribs at Chili’s or shellfish at Red Lobster? We’re all going to Hell then for breaking the covenant kiddos!
But wait there is more, I feel like a sadist for the face-palming that results from reading quotes from proposed history books in 2014! Just a little break here to make you feel better.
Join Texas Freedom Networks “Just Educate!” campaign to reform the Texas Board of Education.
Sign TFN’s petition for accurate textbooks.
Vote for reality based education in the school board. Voter’s Guide
Are you ready for more totally serious inanity from our national publishers?
This publisher goes even further than Biblical times with revising out the Enlightenment…
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – United States Government: Principles in Practice
Text has a section on “Judeo-Christian Influences” that reads: “The Framers’ political thinking was influenced by a Judeo-Christian religious heritage, which includes traditions common to both Judaism and Christianity. These religions see the law and individual rights as being of divine origin. Moreover, the Framers benefited from the Protestant Reformation, a sixteenth-century Christian reform movement whose leaders developed ideas about individual responsibility, the freedom to worship as one chooses, and self-government.”
Cuz yeah Protestant settlers like the Puritans were all about the “freedom to worship as one chooses”. As long as you agreed with them, and conformed to their ideas of how to worship. If you were a Quaker though, not so much! Quakers were banished, branded, and had their ears cropped.
But what about separation of church and state you say? According to this national publisher…
McGraw-Hill School Education – United States Government
The text states: “Thomas Jefferson once referred to the establishment clause as a ‘wall of separation between church and state.’ That phrase is not used in the Constitution, however.’”
Fixed your wagon didn’t they?
If you think it can’t get more ridiculous, I have barely scratched the surface of what these textbooks are counterfeiting as history. Read the entire Washington Post article if you have a high pain threshold.
Since Aron launched his Patreon, he has been overwhelmed by the by all of the support he has gotten. The support has given him more time for new projects. These are a few of the new things he has been up to in the last 2 months. Like Dan Arel wrote, he has already put 4 podcasts together with his co-host Mark Nebo. This is the latest one with Deb Biennan and Vic Gettman, volunteer Humanist celebrants acting as chaplains at an American Air Force base. They talked about being persistent in providing support for Humanist airmen in the face of the opposition they get on base. The next episode will be live from Apostacon on Sept. 19th. There is an Evening of Scientific Inquiry with Neils Degrasse Tyson during the event also. Hope to see you there in costume! People think Aron is wearing one even when he doesn’t dress up.
Aron has also made a new series called Living Science Videos with my help. The mission is to provide teachers and students an introduction to biology based on the Next Generation Science Standards. These standards are opposed by Intelligent Design Creationist Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute and the Heartland Institute. In a nutshell, their opposition is based on the standards including evolution and climate change. (so accurate science basically) Aron and I are often asked about alternative science curriculum for home schoolers, as it is currently dominated by propaganda mills like The Discovery Institute.
Science advocates often focus on textbook wars and standards adoptions, and these are worthy battles to keep pseudoscience out of classrooms. However, as a teacher, I know a good science teacher doesn’t just use a textbook. In fact, Texas skipped their obligation in 2010 to update textbooks, and is only now starting to update outdated books. Most of the books, I’ve been issued still had Pluto as a planet. That is why we are producing science educational supplements, to aid teachers and students, who want accurate science and promote science literacy. The last video we made was about how hypotheses are formed and what a scientific theory is. It answers the question that a lot of people ask, “How do we know?”
He is also finally able to go testify at a textbook hearing even if it is during the weekday now that he is a full time activist. According to the Texas Freedom Network…
There are numerous issues spread across the dozens of social studies textbooks submitted by publishers this year. These include problems with the way religions are portrayed; endorsement of anti-government, Tea-Party ideology; denigration of affirmative action — to name just a few.
This is the link to find out more about the hearing on Sept 16th. Other projects are in the works, and we’ll update you when they bear fruit.
It is often difficult and awkward to move disagreements forward to where they become productive in the insular, organized atheist community. Especially for a family that is as actively involved as the Ra family, because a lot of times we know and like and often respect the people involved on a personal level. And to make matters more awkward so do our other atheists friends. So basically, we all collectively cringed about Dave Silverman’s comment to conservatives about abortion rights, because we really like him and we respect his professional accomplishments in the secular realm. Of course, many of us were also chagrined because we are part of the super-progressive reproductive rights community. This is the comment for reference although you mostly likely already know what he said…
“I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion,” said Silverman. “You can’t deny that it’s there, and it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage.”
There have already been many criticisms from the fiercely, liberal secular types including PZ Myers, Sarah Moglia, Steve Ahlquist, Ophelia Benson, and Jason Thibeault. And too, there has been support for Silverman from no less liberal sources such as JT Eberhard and my personal friend, who I can testify is actually a ray of Secular Sunshine Shanon Nebo. Silverman clarified his comment on her blog.
I was talking to a lot of press this week – I mean a LOT of press, and most of it hostile. When I was talking to Raw Story I gave them the same pitch I’d given so many times before: Conservatism is basically divided into two parts, fiscal conservatism, which is real conservatism, and Social conservatism, which is Christian theocracy masquerading as conservatism, with the latter holding down the former. Is the fiscals dropped the Christian social bullshit, I said, real conservatism would benefit from the influx of conservative atheists who avoid the movement due to the theocratic aspects.
I said that all of the social conservative agenda was religious in nature, to which the reporter eagerly countered that there was a secular argument for abortion. He clearly knew he was right, and so did I – there is a secular argument (one with which I firmly disagree) whose existence I cannot deny.
Rather than take the road to discussing abortion, I acquiesced to his correct counterpoint, returned to my point, and said that school prayer, LGBT equality, and Death with dignity were better examples of purely Christian positions (“it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage”), and we went on with the discussion on why American Atheists was there.
There’s my scandal. The rest of what you may have read is reckless “positing” by people who didn’t do what you did – ask me. Thank you for being responsible.
So there it is, Silverman says that even though he disagrees with secular anti-choice arguments, he couldn’t deny that they exist. As many of you already know there are secular arguments against gay marriage and euthanasia that are just as bad as the ones against a woman’s right to choose. You really don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface of all of these supposedly secular arguments to smell the stink of repressive Christian culture.
In fact, I just did a presentation in February for the Secular Humanists of Southern California on how thinly veiled secular anti-choice arguments are. I don’t want to belabor the point but here is a photo from Secular Pro-life‘s website to just show you how they basically just spin religious arguments into secular ones.
I have seen this group tabling at atheist conventions. If the Discovery Institute were to table at an atheist convention with their supposedly secular arguments like aliens seeded life on this planet; it would be a sideshow. Yet secular arguments against a woman’s right to choose are not self evident to some of us that they don’t have some sort of merit. We scoff at canards like “Teach both sides of the controversy” and try to be more than fair to religious based arguments like the one in that poster.
I first became aware of Secular Pro-Life through the work of Godless Bitches Beth Presswood and her husband Matt Dillahunty. Matt debated one of their members at a Texas Freethought Convention.
In the debate, she had the audience sit through a graphic video of abortions.. Nobody in our community puts reproductive rights on the secular agenda more than Matt and Beth do.
And even though Silverman didn’t intend to be dismissive to all of us, who are fighting the Religious Right’s relentless efforts to deny access of a safe and legal abortion. Groups like Secular Pro-Life, that openly cooperate with and have members from the Religious Right, can rightly claim that he said there is a secular argument for their cause. One already has. (As Jason Thibeault predicted, so it has come to pass) I appreciate his clarification that they are bad arguments, but secular pro-choicers can’t catch a break especially here in the South. We need help and are just as under fire as science advocates are from creationists down here.
This is what really matters. It is now virtually impossible for rural Texans to get a safe and legal abortion here, because religious crackpots like Rick Perry run the government and have passed unnecessarily draconian restrictions on abortion clinics that only 6 clinics in Texas are currently up to speed on. Two more clinics have shut down just last week. How is passing more restrictions on clinics and on women’s reproductive choices fiscally conservative? Legislating the hell out of women’s uteruses and fighting tooth and nail regulations on guns and other businesses doesn’t make sense.
Most importantly, where are rural Texas women going to go when they have a crisis pregnancy when the nearest clinic is 6 hours way. And there will be more of those because Planned Parenthood clinics that provide access to contraception have been shut down by the Texas government too.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church where Planned Parenthood was stigmatized. As a young woman, who didn’t yet have the resource to raise a child, I avoided the Planned Parenthood clinic that was in walking distance from my apartment. I didn’t even own a car and walked or took the city bus everywhere. I still had more privileges than millions of rural women have right now.
I wound up raising a child as a single parent because poor women often have relationships with poor men and the economic stresses that go along with that. Most of the girls in my youth group had unplanned pregnancies due to the stigma of seeking contraception and impractical Christian advice about staying a virgin until you are married. In every state that advocates abstinence only sex education even though it is in a secular manner, the teen pregnancy rate is the highest. The funny thing is that advice is do as I say not as I do because 85 percent of evangelicals have sex before they are married. Our culture still has Christian hang ups about sex, and they are largely unnecessary due to low cost contraception, which would reduce the number of abortions.
Maybe reproductive rights is not a battle that American Atheists has the resources to fight like school prayer and the cross at the Ground Zero museum. However, religious-based regressive social policies including anti-choice are hurting millions of families nonetheless. And I think it has already been shown that if you advocate for women that more women will join your community. That is more volunteers and donors to help fight religious policies that restrict the freedom of women to choose what is best for their families not the government. Most certainly not pro-life groups of any stripe that don’t have to live with the consequences of another woman’s unplanned pregnancy. My hope is that Silverman will use the opportunity this has created to show strong support for reproductive rights and to denounce religious regressive policies.
[notice] If anyone reading this would like to help maintain access to a safe and legal abortion, especially for low income women please support The Lilith Fund and Planned Parenthood. I also will be talking about secular arguments for abortion to do my part on making pro-choice a more self evident secular position on The Magic Sandwich Show on March 23. I may see if I can enlist a fire breathing pro-choice friend too.[/notice]
I have been pleasantly surprised that the youtube comments on my speech on The Heart of Humanism at The Southern California Secular Humanism Conference are mainly addressing the topic.
Especially because I addressed how secularists need to examine where their beliefs about love in particular may be influenced by Christian culture such as ideas about purity. I used a rather pointed example by looking at the Secular Pro-Life Movement. Their stance is not categorically different from Cathy Ruse of The Family Research Council’s advice on making secular anti-choice arguments. Ruse’s Christian influence is clearly seen in her advocacy for state’s rights on marriage equality as discussed in my speech and her advocacy against buying Girl Scout cookies on the basis of their support of Planned Parenthood. Cuz unplanned parenthood is so much better, right?
One commenter though accepted the challenge to produce a secular anti-choice argument.
My concern isn’t from a Christian purity standpoint, it’s an issue of the meaning of human rights. We used to believe that people of different skin colors didn’t deserve legal protection because the ‘rights’ of rich white people were more important. I worry that abortion is not dissimilar.
So Ken Ham won’t debate Aron Ra and PZ Myers because… reasons!
He complained that the debate invitation was rude, but look how rude he was to Bill Nye…
“Bill Nye still doesn’t understand the difference between historical science and observational science — so he may be known as ‘Bill Nye the science guy’ — but he doesn’t understand science correctly,” Ken Ham wrote on Facebook. “[Bill Maher and Nye] don’t want the truth — they continue to ‘suppress the truth’ as the Bible states in Romans 1 about such people in rebellion against God.”
And incidentally he was rude to me too. But he will debate Bill Nye on his own turf the Creation Museum. What is Bill Nye thinking? Ham will have his own built in cheering section gasping at totally plausible stuff that Nye says about evolution and applauding dubious crap like this…
Ham added, “I hope to show Mr. Nye and our debate audience that observational science confirms the scientific accuracy of the Genesis account of origins, not evolution.”
How does he still say this stuff with a straight face given the amount of evidence for evolution people keep showing him? For the people, who already want to believe in the Genesis account, his pseudoscience will sound totally plausible given that they can’t discern pseudoscience from real science.
So that is Ham’s game plan.
Give Nye some credit though, at least he agreed to a debate topic that is narrow and focused enough, so that Ham doesn’t spend the whole time riffing on how nasty atheists like Hitler are, or other emotional appeals that aren’t evidenced. That is a common creationist debate diversionary tactic if you watched the Dembski/Hitchens debate, Dembski dropped the whole Intelligent Design facade and basically talked about evangelizing Jesus and how good it made him feel. The debate question is focused on science so it should be child’s play for Nye…
“Is creation a viable model of origins?”
I know a lot of people are thinking that why should Nye give Ham this honor? Especially because of galling stuff that Ham will do with the publicity like this…
… Dr. [Georgia] Purdom stated to the Christian Post, [an evolution-creation debate] “could be held at a public university, using an impartial moderator. I would think that someone as polished and charismatic as Mr. Nye would relish the opportunity to debate a creationist. In addition, since Nye will soon be hosting a new science program, I would think he would like to see the publicity generated by his participation in a major public debate.”
So he projects his reasoning for seeking publicity for his new “science” program. Reprehensible! You know already he will be lying to children and adults, and undermining science education based on what he does at the Creation Museum.
[notice]And Ham is already dragging on Nye’s lab coat-tails. This is a quote from a site aimed at young Christians called “Relevant”(I know) titled “Bill Nye VS. Ken Ham: Welcome to the Thunderdome”…
“It’ll be a battle for the ages, as the two noted brainiacs take on the question: “Is Creation a viable model of origins?”.
Do they have a snort out loud emoticon? [/notice]
Personally, I gotta see if me and Aron can make this debate out of mostly morbid curiosity. Also, someone has to cheer for Nye, right?