Bills Requiring Public Schools to Teach the Bible Are Flooding State Legislatures – Some Are Becoming Law
In 1963 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that teaching the Bible in public schools was unconstitutional.
56 years later right wing religious extremists are still trying to find ways to get the Bible taught in public schools.
And now they’re succeeding.
According to the civil rights organization Americans United, there is a “coordinated attempt by the Religious Right to enshrine Christian nationalism in our schools, in our communities and in our government,” and teaching the Bible is a part of that attempt.
Also part of that attempt: President Donald Trump.
Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2019
Conservative lawmakers across the country are embracing this attempt, sponsoring bills that mandate the creation of required or elective courses in public schools to teach the Bible, or finding other means to inject religion – especially the Christian religion – into taxpayer-funded curriculums.
Since January of this year alone there have been bills mandating the creation of Bible study or instruction bills in at least 14 states, including Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Florida, West Virginia, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, West Virginia, Texas, Indiana, Washington, and Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s bill is listed as “emergency” legislation.
Some of the bills, like Georgia’s, have passed and been signed in to law as recently as Monday. Some have failed or died in committee. There are still many Bible instruction bills active and awaiting hearings, votes, and governors’ signatures.
Some states have filed multiple bills with the same or similar intent: get the Bible – and religion – into as many classrooms as possible.
While some of the bills direct the creation of “elective” Bible study classes, other states, like Texas, make clear Bible instruction would be required. Some legislation is careful to mask the Bible classes as instruction in history, others are more overt in their direction and intention.
Alabama’s SB 14 allows “elective courses” of Bible study, but overtly opens the door to displaying the Bible and other “artifacts, monuments, symbols, and texts related to the study of the Bible and religious history if displaying these items is appropriate to the overall educational purpose of the course.”
That bill will be reviewed by the Alabama House Education Policy Committee Wednesday afternoon.
Also up for review on Wednesday is the Missouri Senate’s Concurrent Resolution 13, which, among other objectives, would, “Require that all world literature courses include a three-week session on wisdom literature from the Bible, as has been done for three thousand years.”
The resolution cleverly claims that “forty studies have documented a correlation between improved school grades for children and the teaching of the biblical character of love, integrity, compassion, and self-discipline.”
Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist documents how Republican state Senator Ed Emery, sponsor of Missouri’s resolution, is “full of it,” and the Senator’s similar claims about another Bible bill he sponsored were disproven. He also reports that Sen. Emery is the “head of the Missouri Prayer Caucus Network, which is affiliated with the group known for promoting the Christian Right’s Project Blitz. Their goal is to shove Christianity into our public institutions (including public schools).”
West Virginia’s SB 234 would “require all schools provide an elective course on Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible or New Testament of the Bible,” while HB 2742 would “make available elective courses of instruction in all schools located within this state on the history of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.”
New York Assembly Bill 6315 would “teach students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy.”
The text is almost exactly the same Virginia’s SB 1502, which died in committee, and almost the same as Georgia’s SB 83, which GOP Gov. Brian Kemp signed in to law Monday.
Texas’ SB 2090 makes “Bible instruction” part of “the required English language arts curriculum for public school students.”
Mississippi’s HB 1403 died in committee but had it passed would “require school districts to offer a secular program of education to high school students which includes elective courses relating to religion, Hebrew scriptures and the Bible.”
North Dakota’s SB 2136 failed to pass, but would have offered elective Bible instruction and allowed portions of those classes to replace social studies requirements for graduation.
Image by Paul Keller via Flickr and a CC license
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MAGA Christian Nationalist Plans to Mobilize GOP Voters in 17 Counties ‘Where Demonic Strongholds Have Corrupt Control’
Earlier this year, Christian nationalist MAGA cultist Lance Wallnau announced that he intended to launch a tour heading into the 2024 elections that he claimed will break the “demonic strongholds” in various states that are supposedly preventing Republicans from winning elections.
Through this tour, Wallnau intends to raise up thousands of “patriots,” “grassroots saints,” and “intercessors” in swing states to who will “see the Republican Party shaken to the core” by ensuring that former President Donald Trump is returned to the White House.
During a livestream on his Facebook page last week, Wallnau announced that he has “identified 17 [counties] where demonic strongholds have corrupt control over the voting” and it is these counties that he intends to target.
“We’re going to mobilize,” Wallnau declared. “Before we’re done, the states are going to be mobilized. The awakened saints aren’t just going to be running around doing Facebook posts and incantations and proclamations; we’re actually going to be mobilizing the churches, mobilizing the businesses, mobilizing the legislators, mobilizing the independent media—people just like you guys—we’re going to be mobilizing in the intercessory warriors.”
“Out of 3,143 counties in the United States, we’ve identified 17 where demonic strongholds have corrupt control over the voting and over the machinery,” he continued. “We’re actually going to focus our precinct strategy on those 17 counties. We’re going to go with the [revival] tent, we’re going to go with signs, wonders, miracles, deliverance, Holy Ghost anointing, and the fire of God into seven swing states, hitting 17 counties.”
Wallnau has not yet revealed precisely which counties he plans to target, but he did post a chart on his Twitter page recently laying out 14 counties that he claims “will determine the future of America in 2024.”
Wallnau is an avowed Christian nationalist who was treated as an insider by the Trump White House and who has used his potion of influence to relentlessly promote Seven Mountains Dominionism, a theology connected to right-wing political ideology that teaches that Christians are to “do whatever is necessary” to take control of the seven main “mountains” that shape our culture—education, government, media, business, arts and entertainment, family, and religion—in order to implement the will of God throughout the nation and the world.
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
DeSantis Tells Evangelicals He Wants to ‘Improve’ Supreme Court So Justices Reflect ‘Gold Standard’ of Clarence Thomas
Speaking before a welcoming crowd of national evangelical broadcasters one Tuesday, Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis declared Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is the “gold standard for jurisprudence” and the next president could have the opportunity to create a 7-2 conservative majority that would last for a quarter century.
DeSantis, who will formally announce his 2024 presidential run on Wednesday with Twitter owner Elon Musk, appeared to be perfecting his stump speech as he delivered his 30-minute remarks before the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, which just happened to be hosting its 2023 annual convention in Orlando.
Merely hinting at his impending presidential candidacy announcement, DeSantis at one point in his lengthy speech said, “the U.S. Supreme Court with some of the recent appointments is in a much better spot than it’s been in a long time. But I think if you look over, you know, the next two presidential terms, there is a good chance that you could be called upon to seek replacements for Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito, and the issue with that is you can’t really do better than those two. They are the gold standard for jurisprudence.”
Justices Thomas and Alito are seen as the most far-right extremists on the Supreme Court today. Justice Thomas is at the center of what many legal experts see as a two-decade old corruption scandal involving possibly millions of dollars.
READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene Slammed for Paying $100,000 for Kevin McCarthy’s Cherry Chapstick as US ‘Teeters on Default’
“And so you got to make sure that we’re appointing people who are going to be as close to that standard as possible,” he declared. “If you replace a Clarence Thomas with somebody like a [John] Roberts or somebody like that, then you’re going to actually see the court move to the left. And you can’t do that. I also think if you, if you look over those eight years, you very well could be called upon to replace Chief Justice John Roberts, and perhaps even someone like Justice Sotomayor.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor is rated the most left-leaning of all the current Supreme Court Justices. She is 68.
“So it is possible that in those eight years, we’d have the opportunity to fortify justices Scalia [sic] and Thomas Alito, and in Thomas, as well as actually make improvements with those others and if you were able to do that, you would have a seven to two conservative majority on the Supreme Court that would last a quarter-century. So this is big stuff very important that that that gets done right.
RELATED: ‘Could Shoot Somebody on Fifth Avenue’: Clarence Thomas’ Corruption Is Indefensible. Here’s Who’s Defending Him.
Watch DeSantis’ speech below or at this link (video begins at 11:48 mark).
‘Cult’: Some of the Most ‘Shocking’ Things Producers Discovered for New Duggar Documentary
The latest installment of the Duggar family’s life story is about to be screened in an Amazon documentary, coming two years after family member Josh Duggar was found guilty of possession of child pornography.
As he serves more than 12 years in prison, “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets” walks through the issues that stemmed from Josh and the links the family – made famous in the TLC reality series“19 Kids and Counting” – has to a radical religious sect that People Magazine characterized as “concerning.”
The documentary outlines the controversial Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) church and the ways in which the church shaped the family’s decisions and behavior.
“There are so many thousands of families that have been hurt by this and have not had a voice, not for lack of trying, for many, many, many years,” said Olivia Crist, one of the executive producers. “I mean, hope, the takeaway is really hearing the survivors, hearing what they’ve been through. And then, I think also for people still in, trapped in a fundamentalist or IBLP group, that hopefully this is a chance for them to say, ‘Hey, it is possible to get out and that they’re not alone.'”
“Josh Duggar is really the tip of the iceberg in this group,” she confessed in the documentary.
Prior to Josh’s arrest, he confessed to molesting young girls. Among those were his sisters Jill Duggar Dillary and Jessa Duggar Seewald.
Crist revealed that Josh grew up “in a system that is inherently abusive and [has a] lack of sex education.” That kind of environment, she explained, “breeds abuse” by blocking children from any other adults in their lives.
“I think throughout the show, we see that in so many different areas,” she told People. “And systems like this, that’s, unfortunately, how they’re set up with this authoritarian [notion of] ‘men have all the control and women and children have to be submissive to that control’ — I think that is just a recipe for absolute disaster.”
In March, Jinger (Duggar) Vuolo released a tell-all book about the “darker side” of growing up in the family and the church. She described it as an “unhealthy version” of Christianity.
“I was just so crippled with fear, and I didn’t know why,” she told The New York Times in an interview.
Amy (Duggar) King similarly has attacked her aunt and uncle for protecting their son Josh, despite knowing he was a predator.
“I don’t think anyone would make the mistake of assuming I support my cousin,” Amy wrote to People in May 2022. “I’m struggling to even find the words to express how angry I am. I’m angry at my cousin. I am deeply disappointed in him as a person. … But let me tell you I am furious at the family that looked the other way and still today, refuse to hold him accountable.”
Crist also revealed Jill “was hesitant” to tell her story. “I won’t speak for her fully on that. But yes, I think at the end of the day we’re just really honored and humbled that they trusted us with their stories.”
Calling it a “cult,” Crist said that the documentary goes into a lot of abuse that happens under the guise of a church. She noted that they researched just “how far and wide the IBLP ideology went.”
“It went into our police system. It went into the military. And I think also, just how far and wide, like I said, the ideology spread,” she said. “You can speak to a family who is part of IBLP Australia or part of IBLP and live in Tennessee and you’re going to see the same exact thing happen in terms of really just this pandemic of abuse that Gothard’s teachings inhabit.”
Another executive producer, Julia Willoughby Nason, said she found it “shocking” while listening “to survivor stories.” Talking to People, she thinks “the far-reaching quality of this ideology was extremely shocking to me, especially how it’s so ingrained in our modern-day culture present day with the political stakes of our human rights at play here.”
“I feel like being a woman in this culture, whether I’m coming from a place of a high control system as IBLP or coming from not that place, just inherently being a woman, I could identify with the themes of abuse and trauma that we’re going through these people’s lifelines,” she added.
There were so many things that they discovered that they had to start editing. It’s a four-part series, but she explained the IBLP has been around since the 1960s, and there’s room for future episodes.
“There’s certainly a lot more we could say,” Crist explained. “And I think, too, where we land, the last episode is a jumping-off point for this larger political conversation, is also something that is of interest of further exploring.”
Nason isn’t merely an EP on the project, her documentaries frequently focus on “exposing the underbelly of systems of control.” Her work includes a Trayvon Martin documentary and one about the fake concert/scam Fyre, and she’s currently at work on a mini-series about the Murdaugh murders.
“But one of the things I want to highlight is really the educational neglect that happened to a lot of these children is really astonishing. Their education was not sufficient,” Crist also. “There are organizations out there — the Coalition for Responsible Homeschooling is one great one — that are doing really good work to advocate for the rights of children.”
The trailer for the documentary reveals that the Duggars are only the tip of the IBLP plan that involves training them in political engagement, sending their children into the halls of Congress, and to intern in the White House.
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