Our Work | Media Outreach | Texas letter

Texas Letter

The following letter was sent on July 30 to the Texas State Board of Education. 

 

July 30, 2009

Dear Texas State Board of Education,

As the education coordinator of the Kochhar Humanist Education Center of the American Humanist Association, I am deeply concerned about the social studies standards currently being set in Texas public schools. Recent reports that advisors to the Texas School Board have recommended a new social studies curriculum that would present the United States as having biblical foundations and would minimize our nation’s strong tradition of separation of church and state are troubling.

Speaking as a former elementary school teacher and college professor in the area of curriculum development, I strongly urge you not to adopt such a curriculum, which would not meet vital standards of historical context and accuracy and would do children in Texas public schools a great disservice. Any social studies curriculum that Texas adopts, in order to meet the highest standards of academic excellence and historical accuracy, must refer to America’s secular heritage and our tradition of religious pluralism.

Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and many other patriots believed that our government did not ground itself in Christianity or the Christian bible, but rather the United States Constitution, a secular document. In fact, nowhere in the Constitution is there a single mention of Christianity, God, Jesus or any Supreme Being. There are only two references to religion and both use exclusionary wording: the First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” and Article VI,
Section 3 says that “… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

With regard to America’s tradition of religious pluralism, we need only look at the abundance of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and shrines throughout the country to see the positive effects that a secular society divorced from religion has on religious freedom and diversity. Pluralism has always been an important strand in the United States’ history and character, and the religious landscape has always been dynamic and diverse. As President Barack Obama recently stated, “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslin nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.” President Obama’s words are not only relevant for today, but speak truth to the United States’ respect
for pluralistic religion and belief that was established at our country’s founding.

We believe that it is important to teach about the significance of religion in history and society. But when that subject is taught, it should be taught in an objective and unbiased way. Fortunately, there are organizations which have resources for teaching about religion at all grade levels. I call your attention to OABITAR (which stands for “Objectivity, Accuracy and Balance In Teaching About Religion”), and I strongly urge the developers of social studies standards in Texas to become familiar with the 36 lesson plans in their web site—which, as
they state, are committed to “national pluralism.” Two of the outstanding curriculum resources are “The Bill of Rights Is For Us Today” and “Different Drummers: Nonconforming Thinkers in History.” I also urge you to study their six position statements, the last of which states, “Teaching about religion in public education needs to serve the interests of a pluralistic society, preparing students to meet with aplomb the full spectrum of religious and nonreligious diversity within the public realm.”

We would, of course, be very pleased to discuss our position with you further and to work with you in any way we can to assure that all students in your state receive a balanced, objective and comprehensive historical perspective.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Bhaerman, Ed. D.
Coordinator, Kochhar Humanist Education Center
American Humanist Association

American Humanist Association

Responding to reporters this morning as the AHA's latest case gets national atte...

23 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Lots of press coverage this morning on our New Jersey lawsuit challenging 'under...

23 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Earth Day Everyone! Be kind to your Earth. It's where you live!

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Congratulations to Ventura County, California for now officially recognizing May...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Taken from a 1940's Justice Society Of America comic before "Under God" was adde...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association has filed lawsuit against “Under God” in the P...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The 2014 American Atheists Conference was awesome! Check out pictures of the Ame...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday Everyone!

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Humanist Poll! http://thehumanist.com/arts_entertainment/culture/your-humanist-...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Announcing our 2014 AHA Annual Conference Keynote Speaker, Professor Max Tegmark...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Have you had this problem? The Ethical Dilemma: My Son Sends Me E-Mails Signed...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hurry! Going to the AHA annual conference in Philly? May 5th is the last day to...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Rules Are for Schmucks: Darwin Award Nominee by Luis Granados. http://thehumani...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Cartoon History of Humanism Episode Three: The Archpoet, 12th-Century Gang...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Throwback Thursday! The January/February, 1989 issue of the Humanist magazine...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

This is creepy... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/17/toddl...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out what the AHA staff is watching! http://thehumanist.com/arts_entertain...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here's another installment of Carl Coon’s ongoing “A Short History of Evolution”...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Five Non-Magic Words: “How Can I Help You?” Advancing the Humanist Chaplaincy h...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia C...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new affiliate, Deltona Humanist, to the American Humani...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Idaho Humanists, check out this Summer Day Camp for Kids! For more information...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out Executive Director Roy Speckhardt's new Huffpost article, Pandora's Bo...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Freedom from Religion in Kazakhstan: An Interview with Atheist Blogger Aleksand...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Today is A. Philip Randolph's 125th birthday. He was the American Humanist Assoc...

8 days ago