2010-03-19

The Texas Board of Education and the Culture Wars

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It was a Sunday afternoon back in 2004, and I was sitting at a BBQ joint somewhere outside of Buffalo, TX. Around me where the majority of the elders of Grace Bible Church in College Station, TX on our way back from the annual Men's Retreat. At the time I considered myself to be both a Republican (now independent) and a Christian (still am), so I easily identified with most of the men around me. In fact, truth be told, we listened to the Bush vs. Kerry debate that Friday night on the way up and were all excited that Bush had seemingly so easily won.

It was within that context that the conversation at lunch swung to the "Liberal agenda", and the way in which it was infecting the minds of children. Most notably in the realm of academia through the teaching of evolution. One middle-aged man with a mustache took center stage and laid out the flaws in evolutionary theory, leaving many at the table nodding in agreement. He then spoke at length at how you could accurately date the Earth to ~6,000 years old by using the Old Testament, supposed holes in the fossil record, that the Earth was created with dinosaur bones already in the ground, etc... He went on to assure his fellow elders that he spent his free-time, away from Dentistry, lobbying the state Board of Education to allow for young-earth Creationism to be taught in schools.

That man's name was Don McElroy.

At this point I should probably back up and state that at the time, I had literally never heard of the "young-earth theory" at the time. Ok I had heard it once, but it was stated by an acquaintance of mine at A&M who had somewhat extreme views on why God created the AIDS virus that I'd rather not repeat, so I didn't take it very seriously. Yet here were the heads of the church to which I was an active member signing on to the theory without question. I was literally speechless.

(I would later learn that this issue had created a rift amongst the church leadership, and most churches I've come across ever since.)

I hadn't heard Don McElroy's name again until earlier this week when I came across this article, informing me that the same man who had left me speechless at that table in East Texas was essentially the catalyst behind the recent flap over rewriting textbooks in Texas. Here he is on his campaign website stating his case:

Our nation is falling under the sway of the ideas of the far-left; the founding principles of our nation are being neglected and forgotten. … But here in Texas, the conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education have the far-left in retreat. In the past two years, while I was privileged to chair the board, we won battles in math class, English class, science class and we are now winning in history class.

I have no problem changing textbooks that contain any sort of bias, be it liberal or otherwise, but this smells like something else. Something a little more personal:
The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation,” McLeroy said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. “But we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.
I feel it's worth pointing out at this point that this man actually was tasked with evaluating history textbooks. A truly frightening thought given the stated criteria above, and that this polarized view of the world offends even many like-minded believers.

But that is besides the point.

My question is simply, is our faith so shallow that we feel as though the Kingdom of God is at stake if a balanced view of the world is allowed to exist in schools? Is the Christian faith somehow diminished if it is not officially adopted by the Federal Government? Will more people profess their faith in Jesus Christ if only we could all agree that this is a Christian nation?

I've met Dr. McElroy and I can tell you that his beliefs, though as far right as they come, are indeed sincere. Here I am simply questioning his methods. As I said before, I strongly support removing any perceived biases from our school system (a utopian ideal if ever there was one I realize), but by voicing his extreme religious and political opinions so loudly in what should essentially be a non-partisan arena, I fear that he is actually working against his own interests in the long run.

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1 comments:

Gloria on 20/3/10 said...

Wow, he could run for governor of this state and win....Oklahoma hates anything Texas until the far right speaks. The whole country is truly watching this spectacle. Praying for level heads to prevail.

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