When an image of a fourth grade “science” test given by Blue Ridge Christian Academy was posted on the Internet in the atheism Reddit, the image quickly went viral. The quiz, dated Feb. 28, was titled “Dinosaurs: Genesis and the Gospel.” The student taking it received a 100% score for “correctly” answering that the Earth is not billions of years old and that dinosaurs lived with humans.
The quiz was based on materials from Answers in Genesis, founded by young earth creationist and evangelist Ken Ham. “In a way, what is happening to this Christian school … should be a warning to all Christians: the atheists want your children,” Ham warned in a commentary on his website. “ They are aggressively trying to demonize and marginalize Christians in their attempts to recruit your children for atheism or secularism.” Ham will be a keynote speaker at the Texas Home School Coalition’s conference in August.
It’s not just home schools and private Christian schools where science is “challenged.” Fundamentalist Christian organizations are constantly trying to have Biblical creationism and so-called Intelligent Design taught in the public schools, as the National Center for Science Education chronicles.
Science isn’t the only target of would-be education reformers. It’s also history – such as the Texas Board of Education’s rewrite of social studies.
An increasing number of public high schools are adopting “the Bible as literature” types of elective courses. Many of these rely on guidelines from the National Council on Bible Curriculum in the Public Schools – a group endorsed by right wing Christian groups and luminaries who think the wall of separation of church and state is a myth. Endorsers include, among others, the Family Research Council, American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, Center for Reclaiming America and David Barton – who penned a book about Thomas Jefferson that was voted “the least credible history book in print“ by George Mason University’s History News Network. The National Council on Bible Curriculum in the Public Schools claims on its website, “To date, our Bible curriculum has been voted into 776 school districts (2,377 high schools) in 38 states. Over 550,000 students have already taken this course nationwide, on the high school campus, during school hours, for credit.” Its textbook is titled, “The Bible in History and Literature.”
What’s behind the push for Christian fundamentalist ideology being taught as “science” and “history?” What are the dangers and what’s the end game?
Joining us for an enlightening show are four experts on the motives and victories of the religious right in reshaping education.
From Talk2Action.org, Bruce Wilson and Rachel Tabachnick will share their insight.
Bruce co-founded Talk2Action.org with journalist Frederick Clarkson. The site covers the intersection of religion and politics. In May 2008, Wilson posted a 3 and 1/2 minute video widely credited in mainstream media with precipitating then-GOP presidential candidate John McCain’s decision to reject his long-sought political endorsement from influential Christian evangelist, Texas megachurch pastor and Christians United For Israel founder John Hagee. Later that year, Wilson and researcher Rachel Tabachnick correctly identified the specific religious tendency which then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is most closely associated with, the New Apostolic Reformation. Wilson’s effort was the first to publicize Palin’s association with Kenyan evangelist Thomas Muthee, a professed witch hunter, and also Palin’s personal friendship with Alaska evangelist Mary Glazier, who heads Sarah Palin’s personal prayer group and also claims, like Muthee, to have used prayer to fight a witch. Muthee and Glazier are top leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation movement, which purports to be the most radical change in Christianity since the Protestant Reformation. NAR leaders advocate forced wealth transfer and the the driving unbelievers from “the land.” He is currently working on his first book.
Rachel Tabachnick is a researcher, writer and speaker on issues pertaining to the impact of the Religious Right on policy and politics in areas including education, economics, environment, and foreign policy. She has provided research to political campaigns from the local to national levels, for both Democratic and Republican candidates, and has spoken at conferences on progressive activism, labor, and the impact of Christian Zionism on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rachel has been interviewed on radio stations across the nation on issues ranging from the privatization of public education to the political impact of the New Apostolic Reformation.
Chris Rodda’s work also appears on Talk2Action.org. She’s well known for her ongoing work in debunking David Barton and other Christian fundamentalists’ versions of American history. Rodda is the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Her books include Liars for Jesus and a number of books (some still being written) in the Debunking David Barton’s Jefferson Lies series. Her work has been published on numerous major media websites and she has been a guest on talk shows throughout the country.
Just like the 4th grader’s Blue Ridge Christian Academy’s “science quiz” posted on the Internet, another story went wild on the Internet this year … when a waitress at Applebee’s was fired for posting a copy of a receipt online. A pastor had written on it, “I give God 10% Why do you get 18,”’ along with a zero in the tip portion of the receipt. Ryan Stollar is the guy who made that one of the most talked about stories in the Internet community this year.
Ryan was homeschooled from K-12 and is very familiar with Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis teachings. He recently started Homeschoolers Anonymous, a site for former conservative Christian homeschoolers to speak out about their experiences. The stories published on his site are so gripping, disturbing and honest that they caught the eye of journalist Michelle Goldberg, who wrote about Homeschoolers Anonymous in an article published at The Daily Beast.
“Homeschoolers Anonymous is made up of a diverse group of people. We don’t really have a ‘thing’ that we all agree on other than this: we have seen or experienced harm within the conservative Christian homeschooling movement and we think those stories should be told. The truth should be known,” Stollar writes.
He spent his high school years as a speech and debate competitor in the HSLDA-created National Christian Forensics and Communications Association and was one of the original student leaders for Communicators for Christ (CFC), now the Institute for Cultural Communicators (ICC). His coaching experiences in homeschool debate include lecturing and training thousands of students across the nation with CFC conferences, at a HSLDA National Leadership Retreat at Liberty University, at Cedarville University, the University of Oregon, the Training Minds Ministry Debate Camp in Colorado, and others.
Ryan has a B.A. in Western philosophy and literature from Gutenberg College in Oregon and a M.A. in Eastern religions from St. John’s College in New Mexico. His graduate essay on the Dao De Jing won him the Eastern Classics Essay Prize from the Graduate Institute at St. John’s College in 2006. His interest in political affairs has taken him many places, from advocating for public transportation on a state level with the New Mexico Public Transportation Association, to helping the Global Education Fund train teachers in Nicaragua, to raising awareness on behalf of public education measures in the state of Oregon.
Cherie McGinn is a retired teacher with 34 years of teaching social studies in Montgomery County, MD, at three of the top high schools in the nation. In the last ten years, she supervised 34 social studies teachers and resources for a long list of elective courses.
Cherie’s specialty was AP (Advanced Placement) European History and Comparative Religions. She has participated in multiple summer seminars with NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) and Council For Basic Education, and became a grant proposal reader for both organizations.
Show Time: Friday night, June 7, 2013, 6 Pacific / 7 Mountain / 8 Central / 9 Eastern (Additional time conversions at the World Time Server).
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