Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 199/365 Texas Religious Right Erases Thomas Jefferson

On Friday, March 12, 2010, the Texas Board of Education removed Thomas Jefferson from curriculum standards and textbooks.

They also voted 10-5 to refuse to teach that the United States Constitution prevents the American government from promoting one religion over another.

They also decided not to teach the separation of church and state, as well as to omit all references to "democratic", instead referring to our country as a constitutional republic.

In a state that is largely Hispanic, the Texas Board of Education (and I use that term very, very lightly), also deleted Hispanic names from biographics of influential historical figures.

Lest the reader think "I don't live in Texas...what care I that they parade down the trail to revisionist history?", Texas is the second-largest buyer of school textbooks. Textbook publishers print one version of each textbook, and they print to satisfy the largest buyer.

What is written for Texas is taught everywhere.

Let's look at the accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson (it's cyberspace, I have plenty of virtual paper):

1) Third president of the United States

2) Principal author of the Declaration of Independence

3) Viewed America as a great republic that would lead the way to liberty for the world

4) Favored states rights and a limited federal government

5) Co-founded the Democratic-Republican party (yes, the two started out as siblings in the political arena)

6) First U.S. Secretary of State (under George Washington)

7) Horticulturist (imported many European species, including stock for vineyards)

8) Architect (Monticello, University of Virginia, Virginia State Capitol)

9) Archaeologist (sometimes called the "father of modern archaeology" because of his excavation techniques)

10) Paleontologist

11) Founder of the University of Virginia (not only its architecture, but its curriculum as well)

12) Inventor (rotating book stands, swivel chairs, polygraph (the first copier),automatic doors)

13) Lawyer (graduated with honors and tried hundreds of cases for promenient Virginians)

14) The only president to serve two terms without vetoing a single Congressional bill

15) Consistently ranked as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents by presidential scholars

16) His presidential terms saw not only the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but the Louisiana Purchase

17) Spoke French, read Greek, wrote in Gaelic, and was devoted to his studies, famous for spending up to fifteen hours a day at his various intellectual pursuits.

18) Built and designed Monticello, one of the four World heritage Sites in America, two of which were designed by Jefferson)

19) Enslaved approximately 600 slaves at Monticello - as well as encouraging both Christian and African religious practice among them, and known for having slaves that could both read and write

20)Wrote A Summary View of the Rights of British America in 1774, offering the radical idea that colonists had the natural right to govern themselves.

21) Served as delegate to the Second Continental Congress in 1775.

22) Elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1776 where he drafted 126 bills in three years, including laws to establish freedom of religion, streamline the judicial system, eliminate the death penalty except for murder or treason, and succeeded in passing a law banning the importation of new slaves.

23) Served as Governor of Virginia, and moved the capitol from Williamsburg to Richmond.

24) Appointed to the Congress of the Confederation in 1783 to oversee currency, and recommended the United States use the decimal system.

25) Appointed Minister to France in 1785. While there, he negotiated the U.S. and Prussian foreign trade agreements. In 1789, during the French Revolution, Jefferson sided publicly with the revolutionaries.

26) Jefferson and James Madison anonymously wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which declared that the federal government had no right to exercise powers not specifically delegated to it by the states, i.e. the entire basis for the "states rights" argument.

27) As president, he repealed many federal taxes, and signed a bill banning importation of slaves into the United States.

28) Menber of Benjamin Franklin's American Philosophical Society, also served as its president.

29) Published A Manual of Parliamentary Practice in 1801 that is still in use.

30) Donated his personal library of 6,487 books in 1815 to re-establish the Library of Congress after it was burned by the British in 1814.

Should I go on? 'Cause I can. I have not even begun to touch on Jefferson's accomplishments in this list.

However, since Texas in all it's pseudo-religious intellectualism has decided to erase Thomas Jefferson from the U.S. history textbooks, let us ask who, pray tell, are they replacing him with?

And the winner is....... John Calvin.

So let us look at John Calvin (for those backsliders of you not sufficiently versed in ultra-conservative religious dogma):

John Calvin was raised Catholic, but as a young adult lapsed big time. He lived in the 1500's which was a dangerous time for heretics (the Catholic Church tended to burn it's opponents).

Calvin wrote his own book of his religious views,"Institutes of the Christian Religion". He basically wanted a society controlled by the clergy (him), a theocracy.

His opponents, the Libertines, wanted a society controlled by the magistrates (the law).
Short-term, the Libertines won, and Calvin fled.

It took Calvin 14 years to consolidate his power in Geneva, Switzerland, but he eventually returned and imposed his views on both church and society. He believed all authority came from scripture, immediately banned music from church services, and only allowing the singing of psalms.

During this time, Calvin drew up the Ecclesiastical Ordinances, which set up the structure of his church: preacher, elder and deacon. At the same time, the consistory was established, i.e. a group of preachers that judged others. Every sin was now a crime. Lewd singing was punished by piercing the tongue. No work or pleasure on Sundays, mandatory church attendance, no extravagance in dress, and blasphemy was punishable by death. At one point Calvin shut down the taverns, and required every public meal to be preceded by prayer.

Calvin's code literally mandated all aspects of every individual's life, with no allowance for personal privacy.

Enter Michael Servetus in 1553, Spanish scholar and phsyician, and an individual in total disagreement with John Calvin. The remnants of the Libertines backed Servetus in an unsuccessful effort to be rid of Calvin.

Servetus was burned slowly at the stake (the slowly part was a request of John Calvin's), on a pyre built of his own books.

Calvinism was based around the absolute power and supremacy of God.

But here's the interesting part:

In Calvin’s view, Man, who is corrupt, is confronted by God who has predestined some for eternal salvation (the Elect) while the others would suffer everlasting damnation (the Reprobates).

In other words: you might have led what you might have considered a perfectly good life that was true to God but if you were predestined to be a Reprobate you remained one because for all your qualities you were inherently corrupt and God would know this even if you did not. However, a Reprobate by behaving decently could achieve an inner conviction of salvation.

But an Elect could never fall from grace.

Somehow I'm thinking Calvin saw himself as an Elect.

From 1531 until his death in 1564, John Calvin managed to turn Geneva Switzerland into a religious police state, and he alone was solely responsible for the execution and burnings of thousands of people he deemed heretics during his regime.

He particularily singled out women, pointed to independant or educated women as witches, and summarily burning them at the stake.

If this is the person that the Texas Board of Education thinks is a suitable substitute for Thomas Jefferson, we should all be fearful. What exactly are they contemplating for our future?

Anyone got a match?


  1. That is very, very scary. Though I have to point out one thing: "Lewd singing was punished by piercing the tongue." -- Seems like that one still exists, though it isn't deemed a punishment, but just happens to go hand in hand. ;P (says she who JUST took out her tongue ring the other week)
    I vote to just go ahead an give Texas back to Mexico.

  2. Found your blog when reading The Pioneer Woman's chicken pizza recipe. 365 days in the Capitol intrigued me.
    I am outraged at the arrogance of the Texas Board of Education. You can't rewrite American History! I saw this story yesterday and I couldn't believe the arrogance of the Christain Conservative man (a dentist) that they interviewed who was apparently the spearhead for this. And shame on the textbook writers for cow-towing to such irresponsible information.
    I'm an Adams/Jefferson fan--Love the "love/hate" relationship these two had with each other, and love even more that they corresponded late in their lives--even dying on the same day (July 4). Just had to comment that you reached me with this post.

  3. "Servetus was burned slowly at the stake (the slowly part was a request of John Calvin's), on a pyre built of his own books."

    see why I won't send the damned things out?

  4. This is not only sad but just plain WRONG! I live in Texas and we've been made aware the textbook wars were raging via the local news. However, none of the news reports ventured into the details other than to say new textbooks were up for adoption. Thankfully, my children are grown and no longer part of this seeming propaganda mill.

    I must say I agree with the person who made the comment that we might as well give Texas back to Mexico. To live in this state and see firsthand how MY life has been mandated to change to accommodate those from south of the Rio Grande is a travesty. For example: a major road in the downtown area which has been called the same name practically since the founding of the city is all of the sudden "suggested" to be renamed Cesar Chavez Blvd. Who the heck is Chavez and WHY rename one of Dallas' oldest streets after someone barely known? Those of us who speak only English are nearly looked down upon for not having learned Spanish in an effort to make our Spanish-speaking "guests" feel more welcomed and more comfortable by conversing with them in THEIR native tongue. Rubbish!!

    Texas is going to w[h]ell in a handbasket and it gets worse every day. Picture a disturbed mound of ants... that is what the southern border of Texas is like... practically an open flood gate. Those of us with conservative viewpoints see it as a greed factor only. Most of these "guests" don't own homes and deal strictly on a cash basis. The businesses and retailers see someone come in with a wad of cash and they are going to take it regardless of the country or origin, native langueage, etc.

    So much for my soapbox. Sorry. At times I am ashamed to admit I live in Texas.

  5. Cesar Chavez was a union organizer for migrant workers -he was the one who organized the grape boycott back in the 1970's that brought the various agricultural corporations around to providing more humane living conditions and wages for migrant workers. I remember not eating green grapes for years because of the boycott. Having said that, I thought he did most of his work in California, but maybe he worked in Texas too.

  6. First, I love your title. For nearly 6,575 days I, too, resided in the moonshine capitol of the world albeit in the neighboring bluegrass of Kentucky once an integral section of your rolling Virginia.

    Second, revisionist history (or what I call 'make it sound like ya want it to then believe it gal'darn it') is what is bringing our country to its proverbial knees.

    Keep telling it like it is. Your voice is needed. Cheers!

  7. There's another Moonshine Capitol? SSSHHHH! Don't tell Franklin County! But I suppose if there is it's definitely in Kentucky!