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July 2002           Issue #88



Help Stop Religious Right Censorship of Textbooks


The last time the State Board of Education (SBE) reviewed social studies textbooks, Texas Eagle Forum members testified that slavery was portrayed “too negatively” in one history text.  Religious right groups tried to censor a picture of a woman with two children carrying a briefcase because women in the workplace ran counter to their idea of “family values” and tried to eliminate books they thought had “too many” pictures of minorities.


As we reported last month, some religious right groups are recruiting people to review textbooks and testify at SBE hearings this summer and fall about alleged “factual errors” and “anti-Christian” or “liberal” bias. The Texas Freedom Network (TFN) has launched a campaign to stop this censorship.  TFN is a statewide group that, like Let Freedom Ring, aims to counter the religious right. 


TFN seeks volunteers to:

  • Read a textbook and testify at or provide written testimony to a SBE hearing.  TFN will help you select a book in your field of interest, help you obtain the book, and provide guidance on what the religious right will be targeting in the book.


  • Testify on behalf of your discipline, organization or business, encouraging an open adoption process.


  • Sign postcards that TFN will deliver to textbook publishers and the SBE demanding an end to censorship.


  • Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper.


  • Write your state legislator and encourage them to scrutinize this process.

This process has nationwide repercussions.  Since Texas is the nation’s second biggest buyer of textbooks, publishers have a great incentive to appease the religious right so their books are not challenged here.  Some have resorted to self-censorship and some have revised drafts submitted to the religious right for pre-approval.  The revised books will be sold in other states.


If you are interested in joining this campaign or want more information about it or if you want us to send a postcard in your name, contact Let Freedom Ring at 713-461-3686 or



Houston Conference on Religious Fundamentalism


A conference on “Fundamentalism: Myths and Methods” will be held in Houston on August 19.  It will be hosted by Texas Faith Network (an affiliate of the Texas Freedom Network) in partnership with Let Freedom Ring and other groups.  Karen Armstrong, internationally acclaimed expert on religious fundamentalism and award-winning author of The Battle for God and Islam, will deliver the keynote address that evening.  During the day, panels of national and local experts will discuss the history and common traits of religious fundamentalism in Christian, Jewish and Islamic religious traditions.  There will be opportunities to voice your experiences and opinions in focus groups and workshops.


With this conference, TFN is launching its Fundamentalism Education Project. This project aims to equip clergy and laity with information about the truths and myths of religious fundamentalism.  The project will continue after the conference with public education efforts, including an adult study curriculum, an extensive bibliography, editorial board visits, and special resources for clergy.



The conference will be at South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main.  To register, call 512-322-0545 or visit  We will publish more details in next month’s newsletter and on our web site.



State Parties Adopt Platforms

With Provisions on Religion



Both major state parties adopted platforms with provisions about religion. 

Those provisions are.




From the Republican Party of Texas platform:

  • Religion – We reclaim freedom of religious expression in public on government property, and freedom from governmental interference.  We request the Governor to release space to reinstate a chapel in the Texas Capitol.


  • Free Exercise of Religion – The Party believes all Americans have the right to practice their religious faith free of persecution, intimidation, and violence. ... Our Party pledges to do everything within its power to restore the original intent of the First Amendment of the United States and dispel the myth of the separation of Church and State.


  • Religion and Secular Humanism – The Party affirms President Lincoln’s quote: “It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”  Since Secular Humanism is recognized by the United States Supreme Court as a religion, and our government–funded schools are prohibited from teaching any religion, the Party believes that Secular Humanism and New Age Religion in any form should be subjected to the same state and federal laws as any other recognized religion.  We support the return of Bibles and other religious books to the shelves of all public schools and libraries.


  • Religious Freedom in Public Schools – Our Founding Fathers based the premise of this nation on God–given rights endowed by our Creator.  The Party urges school administrators and officials to inform Texas school students specifically of their First Amendment rights to pray and engage in religious speech, individually or in groups, on school property without government interference.  We support and strongly urge Congress to pass a Religious Freedom Amendment which provides: “Neither the United States nor any State shall prohibit student–sponsored prayer in public schools, nor compose any official student prayer or compel joining therein.”  We urge the Texas Legislature to pass legislation similar to the American Heritage Education Acts passed in Kentucky, Indiana, and other states, which end censorship of the discussion of the role of religion in our founding documents, and encourage reading and discussing those documents in our public schools.

From the Texas Democratic Party platform:

We believe --

  • In separation of Church and State to preserve the freedom to pursue our beliefs.


 The Texas Democratic Party endorses the religious freedoms guaranteed by the state and federal Constitutions and calls upon government to scrupulously honor every Texan's right to religious freedom while respecting the separation of church and state.  Many Democrats hold political views that are motivated by deeply held personal beliefs. No political party and no extremist group hold an exclusive lock on such beliefs.  We recognize the importance of religion and prayer in the lives of Texans and support every individual's right to practice his or her own beliefs without imposing them on others, including the recognized right of public school students to a "moment of silence."



Impact of Supreme Court

Voucher Ruling Uncertain


State elected officials and vouchers activists are divided about the impact in Texas of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that Ohio’s vouchers plan does not violate the Establishment Clause.  A spokesperson for House Speaker Pete Laney, a strong critic of vouchers, and Sen. Teel Bivins, who as chair of the Senate Education Committee has tried to pass a pilot voucher program, both indicated they do not think the decision will affect the Texas debate.  Rep. Ron Wilson of Houston, who has offered vouchers legislation before and said he will again in 2003, thinks it will offer a lot of momentum for those who want vouchers here.


Some think the general election and the Texas House’s election of its speaker could determine the outcome of the debate.  Rep. Tom Craddick who could unseat Laney as speaker, favors vouchers.  Gov. Perry favors vouchers, while his Democratic challenger Tony Sanchez has vowed to veto a vouchers bill.  GOP lieutenant governor candidate David Dewhurst supports a vouchers plan; Democrat John Sharp does not.


Quote of the Month


" There's a general recognition that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.  The Democratic Party seems to hold to the idea that there is some sort of separation between church and state. "
Susan Weddington, Republican Party of Texas chairman, quoted in The Dallas Morning News, 6-26-02.


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