The Texas Textbook Wars

Russell Shorto has a story in the New York Times magazine, “How Christian Were the Founders?,” exploring the attempts of conservative members of the Texas State Board of Education to insert Christian undertones into the textbook curriculum. (Since Texas spends so much on textbooks, their changes are often applied in the rest of the country as well.)

It’s a thorough exploration, full of quotes guaranteed to make any secularist suffer. For instance:

For [lead conservative board member Don] McLeroy, separation of church and state is a myth perpetrated by secular liberals. “There are two basic facts about man,” he said. “He was created in the image of God, and he is fallen. You can’t appreciate the founding of our country without realizing that the founders understood that. For our kids to not know our history, that could kill a society. That’s why to me this is a huge thing.”

Don McLeroy is a fundamentalist dentist–someone with no backing in history or science–and he’s been put in a position to alter textbooks to fit his ideology. It’s incredibly frustrating to recognize the influence held by McLeroy and his peers, but it’s hard to know how to counter it.