How the religious right is undermining education

Mark Chancey, religious studies professor at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, partnered with the Texas Freedom Network to study of biblical education in Texas public schools.

By K.C. Boyd

One can trace the development of today’s right wing Christian think takes to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. Religiously conservative people, motivated by their perceived degradation of society, quietly perfected their skills, all the while grooming their own young adherents, played an effective long-game that continues to win (and corrupt) the hearts and minds of a significant segment of our youth. Indeed, there is no better way to affect the future than by propagandizing the young. In this current post election season, the Biblically driven, often racist, members of society are once again regrouping to fight another day.

With the money of wealth funders like Richard and Betsy DeVos (sister of Blackwater scion Eric Prince and daughter of Elsa and Edgar Prince of the Amway fortune) and the Walton, Koch and Scaife Foundations, simpatico politicians are hard at work bringing Dominionist [3] ideals quietly into the forefront of American education policy. While much of the country argues about budgets, deficits, and guns, a cleverly camouflaged package of School Choice and ”Bible-driven curricula“ make their way up the ladder.

On the surface, School Choice is purportedly about increasing opportunities for inner city and rural youth. The all-important subtext, however, is that School Choice is really about freeing up dollars for Christian-based education. An important arrow that energizes today’s religious quiver is the intentional misuse of language in changing the debate by referring to public schools as “government schools” and public education as a “government school monopoly,” thus instantly and directly speaking to Tea Partiers and Libertarians.

To still relatively scant notice, the call for “School Choice” or Vouchers continues to play out in state capitols across the nation in an effort to increase Biblically based education through a redirection of tax dollars from public to private religious schools....

In 2007, a piece of legislation backed by the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ and the American Family Association, passed in the Texas State House. The bill stated that Texas public schools must offer, as required curriculum the “history and literature of the Old and New Testaments.” Recently, the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) issued a chilling report on a study they coordinated with Mark Chancey, Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University.

In his report [5], Chancey stated that “at least 57 (Texas) school districts and three charter schools taught courses about the Bible in 2011-12, a number that more than doubled the districts teaching such courses in the 2006-07 school year.” ...