I really never thought the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) could become any more of a laughing stock than it already is. But I guess I was wrong.
Next week, the SBOE will consider a resolution that criticizes publishers for supposedly promoting anti-Christian/pro-Islamic bias in world history textbooks.
The resolution points to the fact that in certain textbooks, Muslim beliefs and practices receive more lines of text than Christian beliefs and practices. It also claims that these books are replete with “selective disinformation” and “false editorial stereotypes” that are pro-Islam and anti-Christian. And lastly, the resolution warns that if nothing is done, “more discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly, as they are doing now.”
The books that the resolution describes, however, are no longer even used in Texas public schools. In addition, the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) has completed an analysis that proves the resolution’s claims are highly misleading and plainly inaccurate.
According to TFN, the resolution doesn’t take into consideration entire textbook sections that deal with Christianity, including those on the Reformation, Christian influences during the Renaissance and canon law and church reform.
The resolution also grossly exaggerates when it claims these textbooks have ignored atrocities committed by Islamic leaders. For example, one textbook explicitly discusses the massacre of 100,000 Hindu prisoners by a Muslim leader after a 14th-century battle. Islamic societies’ treatment of women and slaves throughout history is also mentioned.
It’s clear that once again, some board members just want to use the Texas education system as a culture war battleground.
Now, the board is at it again.
Board hopeful Randy Rives of Odessa, who just lost his election bid in March, suggested the current resolution. The seven-member ultra-conservative faction quickly backed Rives and asked that the item be placed on the agenda for the Sept. 23-24 meeting in Austin.
“The State Board of Education must enforce basic democratic values of our state and nation,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “The board needs to make a bold statement to publishers that pushing this agenda will not be tolerated in Texas.”
But let’s be real. It’s highly unlikely that textbook publishers have any sort of agenda to discredit Christianity while playing up Islam. Taking into consideration the prior activities of this board, it’s clear who has the agenda here. This is just another Religious Right scare tactic – a chance to push Christian-nation propaganda by adding fuel to the anti-Islam rhetoric currently circulating around the country.