Faux History For God

I’ve often repeated Pat Moynahan’s famous adage: we are all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts.

I stand corrected.

In Texas (where else?), “educators” unsatisfied with actual American history have responded by creating their own. Because God.

Did you have any idea that our first President believed that government required God and the Bible in order to function? And are you familiar with the following quote from President Ronald Reagan? “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.”  Chances are you haven’t heard of either of these – because they’re both fiction. George Washington is better categorized as a Deist (rather than a traditional Christian), and Reagan never made such a statement about the Bible.

It’s part of a strange indoctrination strategy at a small school district in eastern Texas. On the walls of the school hallways and classrooms are many such alleged “passages” from the Bible and “statements” attributed to prominent figures in American history that all are inaccurate, misquoted, taken out of context, and even made up out of whole cloth.

The school’s practice of inventing “suitably” pious quotations with which to indoctrinate children came to light after a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation challenged the quotations.  According to the organization’s attorney Samuel Grover:

“The district cannot even fall back on the argument that these quotes have educational merit, given the many examples of misquotes, misattributions, and entirely fraudulent quotes displayed on its walls…The district sets a poor example for its students if it cannot be bothered to fact check the messages it chooses to endorse.”

With all due respect, I don’t think the problem was “failure to fact check.” I think the problem was the readiness of dishonest people to invent a history that would be more consistent with their religious preferences than that pesky thing called reality….

I guess they missed that place in the Ten Commandments about “bearing false witness.”

25 thoughts on “Faux History For God

  1. It appears to me that the current faux Republican party has cherry picked Chapter and Verse from their various versions of the Bible to base their decisions on. Including and especially those states rewriting American history as “proof” of the intentions of God and George Washington and the founding fathers who authored the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and the Amendments. To support their decisions and actions they have cherry picked Amendments to protect many of them; such as “freedom of speech”, “right to bear arms” and using “Citizens United” to pay for their decisions and actions (such use is otherwise known as CYA). It is not only Texas and it is not only history they are rewriting; their interpretation of writings of the founding fathers is being rewritten to allow them to accomplish their aims which includes rewriting our laws to support their pseudo religious beliefs.

    Their strong support of the voucher system in schools (and Indiana is a leader in the number of vouchers), violates “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the FREE exercise thereof;…”. The majority of private schools accepting voucher students are religion based schools and all students must participate in the basic religion classes but are excused from prayers. By using our tax dollars to fund the rewriting of history books and supporting the voucher system regarding religious schools, the government is, in essence, establishing a Christian religion base in most cases and prohibiting the free exercise thereof by indoctrinating students regarding religion…and their version of this country’s hard fought for freedom.

    “bearing false witness” by all has become abuse of “freedom of speech” but is accepted as “politically correct” in this 21st Century.

  2. I didn’t know I could have grown up to be a “faux historian”! It sounds fun! I wonder if it pays better than being a real historian? I suspect so… especially in the South and during Presidential election cycles! Too bad I wasted my undergraduate degree studying in the Classics department and had to prove everything I wrote with sources my professors found credible, and not what I thought looked like academic work.

  3. “As goes Texas, so goes the nation” is a saying I invented because Texas often drives what is written in textbooks. Because Texas uses so many books, textbook companies pay attention to what Texas school boards request.

    This is an overt problem, but a more covert problem also exists. AP history classes have caught the attention of teas party activists and have changed in Oklahoma. Less Jim Crow, more American exceptionalism. Education is, as has been stated here many times, the place where right wing activists have been quietly working very diligently.

  4. It’s a power thing. Joining the right team by which authority can be conferred. I am known by the company I keep.

    Those of us fascinated by facts, of the opinion that the Universe needs no set or costume or embellishment by us to be grand beyond imagining wonder why others have to select golden calfs to worship.

    Because sorting wheat from chaff is hard and what if you uncover something that is contrary to your myths? What then? Confront your friends? Defy the shamans? Have to re-think who you are and what you think? Having to further invest time on research that could reveal that the path already taken is not the right one?

    For instance. State being free from religion says nothing about religion. Only that the affairs of man have to have a practical foundation based on facts and data and be free from prejudices based on any particular world view in order to apply equally to all fair minded people.

    Well no. Because my team is the best as evidenced by my support of it and it’s support of me it should occupy the best seats at the table. My race or gender or religion or profession or class or school or entertainment should be recognized as inherently superior to theirs as I have declared by my inclusion.

    Ego in the affairs of humans is as predictable as it is dysfunctional. The source for instance of if you’re not for me you’re against me. If you exclude favoring my religion from our government you are excluding me. Well really you are denying the superiority of my position.

    Freedom requires daily defense. It’s not a fad or a club or a church or a lodge but it is fundamental to all of them. It’s the right to belong but not the right to impose either on purpose or by the accident of not knowing the truth.

    Write anything you want on the walls of your church. That’s what it’s for. Public education though is a sacred responsibility of the state. It must be universal truth. Facts for which there is evidence. Facts that apply to all not any select few. Not what advantages you.

    If some of those facts seem contrary to what you wish was true figure it out. Don’t deny the truth. Don’t pretend that what makes you comfortable is therefore real.

  5. All I can manage to say about all of that, Shiela is “Fee, Fi, Faux, Fum” in whichever order you may have a personal preference for.

    (You really DIDN’T think I’d pass on this one did you?)

  6. What you are seeing in action is the indoctrination that I grew up with in protestant white america–you can lie, cheat, murder and steal as long as it is to bring people closer to god (who is most certainly white and male). The ends justify the means. We have been so steeped in it that law enforcement is filled with ‘fellow travelers’ and sympathizers of the Klan and violent anti-abortion groups.

  7. Gosh, Sheila, of all the horrible things occurring in this country, you get your knickers in a knot over a school trying to impart decency, fairness and moral grounding on children.

    The real problem causing you such consternation is that you and God don’t agree on homosexuality, so you’re at war with God. That’s a tough fight to win.

    The truth is that the school is a bit wrong, but you (and your five fans) are really wrong.

  8. I’ve been called occasionally to side with my family. Mostly after they did something no smarter than what I would have at their age. But they’re mine so they’ve earned my support and the benefit of any doubt. Seems at least a little noble on my part.

    How about then people being on the side of their church; their race; their gender; their locale; their hobby? Noble?

    It seems that we used to be taught that country and freedom were first. After all many sacrificed everything for our country. Shouldn’t we side with that above all?

    That’s what oligarchs using media stole from us in their desperate search for the power that they believe their wealth entitles them to.

    They cheered siding with our party first. They encouraged hobby above country (NRA). White supremacy. God before, not and, country. The south shall rise again. Down with uppity be they women or blacks.

    How did they steal our pride? By telling us that while America was great, but our government, the one that defines America to the world, was awful. Inept. Stupid. Incompetent. Under control of idiots (liberals, socialists welfare queens, gays, atheists).

    We, or at least many of us, fell hook line and sinker. Ego and gullible go hand in hand. Head size doesn’t reflect smarts but our view of ourselves.

    So we fell. Hard. They won and we lost.

    Now our hope lies in recovery. Can we stay on the wagon of freedom despite the constant barrage of entertainment shells tossed our way? Can we re-prioritize freedom and country? Can we rally around us rather than us vs them? Can we collaborate or will we allow power (oligarchs) to tear us apart?

    We have to decide. Then act decisively.

  9. Awwwww. Gopper likes “decency, fairness and moral grounding”. Me too.

    To me it’s based on respect for others. To him it’s based on control of others.

    Oligarchs love his version. They want control too. So they fool him and pretend to be God.

  10. We are entitled to our individual facts, including each of our identifying knowledge factors. Textbooks are big industries, no longer simple readers by an author or two. As Purdue president, for example — perhaps short on We the People’s predecessor villagers, farmers, foresters, weavers, masons and potters, warriors and diplomats, etc., wars…and riots–Mitch Daniels banned an Eastern professor’s book in Indiana education of educators! So of course, the market remains high for original sentences from vital authors responsible for their facts and artifacts [not shredded insulation]. We need to look for how many thousands of books each class, each one numbered, etc. and charged per person; plus the library and teacher’s edition copies, etc. And it takes at least 21 years to grow an author who can handle what he or she writes about!

  11. The minions misquote ” I knew you before you were formed in the womb” about the prophet Elijah whose coming was foretold to I knew you in the womb to defend rolling back abortion and contraceptive access. It pervades the current atmosphere and it works on the uninformed

  12. Gopper sez: “Gosh, Sheila, of all the horrible things occurring in this country, you get your knickers in a knot over a school trying to impart decency, fairness and moral grounding on children.”

    BY LYING TO THEM. Great, Gopper.

    But then, without lies, distortions and false mythologies, what else would you have to peddle?

  13. Gopper seems to be in lull; his last postings have been seriously disingenuous and have weakened his position. Dog days of summer must be getting him down.

  14. Ah, yes. Texas’ way of saving money. Instead of spending all those pages telling dry details, just insert “Miracle Happened Here”.

  15. While I do not always agree with Ms. Kennedy, I usually find myself on her “side” of matters. Whether I am a “fan” is a matter of one’s own identification. I had rather decent scores on the SAT, both in mathematics and verbal categories. I have counted more than five people on many occasions whom I believe (whether the person in question believes so is another matter) exhibit verbal traits I would attribute to a “fan.” In regard to the earlier post regarding Ms. Kennedy’s “fan” base, I consider myself one of her “fans.” There are far more people of a progressive—remember when the word “progressive” was not pejorative?—view than some would acknowledge. Before one attempts ad hominem attacks that refer to arithmetic, one should count. Of course, one might be limited in that count by four fingers and a thumb (the digits on one hand).

  16. Reppog is backward on so many issues that it’s useless to list them all. We, of course, could expect R to dive in head-first on this topic. Where he was most off-base was his huge underestimation of Professor Sheila Suess Kennedy.

    You, sir or madam, are the one with only five fans. I doubt you could count high enough to hit all of Sheila’s loyal followers and fans. You missed it, Bub!

  17. How much support would there be for state tax dollars going to parochial schools if 90% of them were Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish?

    Would most Hoosiers want a LOT of government oversight of such schools to see exactly what was being taught there?

    Would taxpayers demand to be notified of school board meetings, demand access to the records and budgetary expenditures, and insist that without a vote to elect such school boards, this was taxation without representation?

    Would children of church members be given first preference in enrollments, using our tax dollars to discriminate against other potential students?

    Given our own history of revolution against tax support of religion, can these questions ultimately raise religious divisions to a level that threaten the republic?

  18. I had assumed Gopper was a fiction. Written by shadow antagonists simply to sharpen arguments and provide comic relief if your humor tended to the macabre or comically frightening.

    It may not be so as I see the rebuttals lose a little steam. That’s the way of intentional antagonism. It serves it’s purpose by stirring up the passionate powers of the sleepy but once awake and engaged again is no longer relevant.

    The harsh alarm clock is far less annoying when you wake up just before it blares and can shut it off with the slightest flick.

    Unfortunately Hoosiers love their pillows. Sleep too late and hit snooze more than they can afford. The benefit and bane of many who think they’re insured enough to avert calamity until it’s upon them and find they’ve awakened with sirens going off.

    Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are sirens.

  19. Al; Sheila has requested we respond without getting personal and without name-calling. I am one, probably not the only one, who doesn’t bother responding to Gopper often because our true responses would require getting very personal and the only way to vent would fully involve some serious and ugly name-calling. His comments today are primarily insults directed at Sheila; his spleen is evident so she must have touched a raw nerve. I am trying to ignore his idiocy in hopes he will go away but; that is like hoping Donald Trump will go away – or begin speaking intelligently about the issues at hand.

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