The irrefutable Jefferson: Texas Board of Education decides to revise history & downplays Jefferson's influence in the founding of our nation

The irrefutable Jefferson

Updated: 07/04/2010 09:05:57 AM EDT

Sunday July 4, 2010

PITTSFIELD

Thomas Jefferson, until this year, was revered in American history textbooks as the Founding Father who wrote the Declaration of Independence. His document is the reason we celebrate the fourth of July as this country's independence day. This is a holiday to remind Americans about the history and significance of that document.

But earlier this year, religious conservative members of the Texas Board of Education decided to push for a revision of this history by downplaying Jefferson's influence in the founding of our nation because the notion of the "separation of church and state" has been traced to him. These religious rightists believe this country was founded as a Christian nation and decided to make their point by revising American history in their public school text books. The effect of this kind of revision of American history would be to celebrate the founding of this country as a religious event rather than the secular event it is.

One does not have to be an American history scholar to understand that the American Revolution was not fought as a religious war against anti-Christian forces or an Antichrist. It occurred as a reluctant solution to a struggle by colonists against an imperial British government. The leaders of the Revolution considered this rebellion a secular matter. Their goal was to establish the colonies as free and independent states concerned with matters of this world and the new land in which they existed, rather than establish a Christian nation.

Now that's just weird. Glad I don't live in Texas...

[quote="Black_Knight, post:1, topic:204250"]
Now that's just weird. Glad I don't live in Texas...

[/quote]

There are those who want the United States to become a theocracy, and this decision is a first step in trying to see that come about.:(

Rich, Black Knight,

I’m glad that agregious abuse of power by the Texas State Board of Education is coming to light. However, it is not the first step in a movement toward establishing a Theocracy in the USA. This movement has been around for a long time and is more commonly referred to as dominionism. If you search google using that term or dominionist. Unfortunately, it is supported by many Catholics. IMHO, it’s an unfortunate outgrowth of the influence of evangelicals on our Church. They mistakenly believe that our Republic was formed as a religious exercise. I think however, that too often the debate is framed as a battle between those that fear and love God and those who reject religion all together. It forces many, including good and well intentioned Catholics, in to the first camp. I am a part of neither. It is because I value my proud standing as a Catholic that I fear these dominionist. They are virulently anti-catholic. They take great care, however, to hide this part of their ethos in order to attract many Catholics in to supporting their cause.

The reason that the Founding Fathers believed in and supported a Seperation of Church and State is because of the radical religious elements within the colonies. I think it’s inaccurate to say that the doctrine of seperation can be traced to Jefferson. The FF as a whole were disciples of the French Enlightenment. I know. Try and put whatever anti-Franco feelings aside for a moment. A fundemental tenent of the French Enlightenment was that Governements should operate independently of the Church. Now, they were reacting to the power and influence that the Catholic Papacy was exerting on European governements (Monarchies) up to that time. In fact, the original colonists were largely members of “sects” of protestantism that grew out of the Reformation. A revolt against the Catholic Church of sorts. I use the term sects not to insult my protestant brothers and sisters. I just couldn’t think of a better term. My apologies. One of the fundemental lines of attack that the Dominionist movement uses are quotes from many of the leaders of the colonial period. We should remember that there are some 150 years seperating Plymouth and the First Continental Congress. The first laws passed in the Colonies that codified a seperation were passed to restrain the sometimes draconian efforts of the early leaders of the colonies to impose their religious beliefs on the populace. The Salem Witch Trials is just one example. The purpose of these laws (in Maryland I believe) was to ensure freedom of reigion not reduce it. If these dominionist are successful at establishing a Theocratic State, they will most assuredly move quickly and decisively to eliminate the Catholic Church. I support a seperation of Church and State not because I lack faith and the courage of my convictions. I support it because I want to preserve my Right to be Catholic openly and proudly.

[quote="Black_Knight, post:1, topic:204250"]
Now that's just weird. Glad I don't live in Texas...

[/quote]

Beats living where they base their opinions on editorials written by Yankee lawyers.

FYI - Thomas Jefferson has not been yanked from school curriculum, as many articles reported. He was yanked in the* World* History section from the list of influential philosophers. Thomas Aquinas was also added. His previous exclusion was ridiculous, being arguably the greatest mind and influentual philosopher in all the Middle Ages.

I don't know about others, but when I was in school, World History focused on the World, not the U.S. Jefferson was a great man and one of the top founding fathers, but as far as influencing philosphy, he could not even get his separation of Church and State written into the Constitution of his own country.

[quote="pnewton, post:4, topic:204250"]
Beats living where they base their opinions on editorials written by Yankee lawyers.

FYI - Thomas Jefferson has not been yanked from school curriculum, as many articles reported. He was yanked in the* World* History section from the list of influential philosophers. Thomas Aquinas was also added. His previous exclusion was ridiculous, being arguably the greatest mind and influentual philosopher in all the Middle Ages.

I don't know about others, but when I was in school, World History focused on the World, not the U.S. Jefferson was a great man and one of the top founding fathers, but as far as influencing philosphy, he could not even get his separation of Church and State written into the Constitution of his own country.

[/quote]

Thank you for pointing this out! And, it is worth adding, one of the reasons Jefferson isn't being covered in this section of the curriculum is that he is covered thoroughly in TWO other years in the Social Studies/History curriculum. The "deletions" that have gotting so much press were mostly eliminations of redundancies in order to give the curriculum more breadth.

[quote="pnewton, post:4, topic:204250"]
Beats living where they base their opinions on editorials written by Yankee lawyers.

FYI - Thomas Jefferson has not been yanked from school curriculum, as many articles reported. He was yanked in the* World* History section from the list of influential philosophers. Thomas Aquinas was also added. His previous exclusion was ridiculous, being arguably the greatest mind and influential philosopher in all the Middle Ages.

[/quote]

Enlightenment figures made a lot of freeing the human mind from the grip of the Church and its supposed "Dark" ages but he was just rediscovering the path Aquinas had blazed:

By nature all men are equal in liberty, but not in other endowments.

If to provide itself with a king belongs to the right of a given multitude, it is not unjust that the king be deposed or have his power reduced by that same multitude if, becoming a tyrant, he abuses his royal power.

The whole "Christian nation" theory is problematic; many of the Founders were deists, others like Washington were lukewarm Episcopalians or belonged to other established state churches. Many thought religion was necessary for public morality but might be classified as Christians INO.

The Founders surely esteemed tolerance more than modern fundies seem to.

The Texas Board of Education has been an embarrassment to the state for years. In this last round, they also talked about removing any reference to the slave trade, instead wanting to call it the "Atlantic Triangle Trade," or something like that. But that was too much even for those -]bozos/-]. Sorry, those esteemed members of the Board.

(note to self: next confession, failings in charity)

[quote="didymus, post:6, topic:204250"]

The whole "Christian nation" theory is problematic; many of the Founders were deists, others like Washington were lukewarm Episcopalians or belonged to other established state churches. Many thought religion was necessary for public morality but might be classified as Christians INO.

[/quote]

Exactly, which is why I do not buy the OP's editorial spin that this change was about religious fundamentalism. Again, the change was made in the World History curriculum. The Texas revolution was very important. I even read one book that listed the battle of San Jacinto as one of the ten most pivotal battles in the history of the world. Yet this subject was not covered in American *History , except with a casual mention and no study on any persons involved. Why? Because it was covered in depth in *Texas History. Admittedly, this was a ways back.

FYI - The Dark Ages weren't all that dark. Humanism won the day in the Renaissance and much of that previous era is colored by that philosophy.

[quote="Big_Ro, post:3, topic:204250"]
The reason that the Founding Fathers believed in and supported a Seperation of Church and State.

[/quote]

They never believed that; they believed in not promoting one religion/denomination as the official state church. People blow way out of proportion one sentence in a private letter Jefferson wrote and act like it is law.

I once toured an antebellum plantation in Virginia. The tour guide referred to “family servants”.

[quote="Black_Knight, post:1, topic:204250"]
Glad I don't live in Texas...

[/quote]

I am glad I live in Texas. Texas is one of the greatest states in the Union.

http://img807.imageshack.us/img807/7205/sanjacintoflag.jpg
Battle of San Jacinto Flag

http://img291.imageshack.us/img291/8544/comeandtakeitflagwithca.gif
Battle of Gonzales Flag

Texas Independence 1836!!!!!!!!!

On theocracy, I wonder if you would call the government of Heaven a theocracy? And what about the government of the Catholic Church? America, of course, is not a theocracy. Catholics are called to go and baptize all nations ... to render unto God what is God's, and to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. That said, "separation of Church and State" can be taken way too far.

On Thomas Jefferson ... He's still mentioned in the textbooks? And accurately? Okay.

On St. Thomas Aquinas ... He's now mentioned in the textbooks? It's about time.

On PC talk when it comes to the history of slavery in America, once when I was looking for a bed and breakfast to stay at in Virginia, one of the websites advertised a plantation type of place where you could sleep in a wooden bed "hand-carved by Negro slaves." I chose somewhere else to stay, feeling that really it would be better and more respectful for such a bed to be on exhibit in a historical museum for educational purposes rather than rented out at profit for strangers to sleep in.

~~ the phoenix

[quote="Black_Knight, post:1, topic:204250"]
Now that's just weird. Glad I don't live in Texas...

[/quote]

This story is not true. Jefferson role as a founder was expanded -he was taken out of the philosopher section making room for, among others , Thomas Aquinas.

[quote="Beau_Ouiville, post:10, topic:204250"]
I once toured an antebellum plantation in Virginia. The tour guide referred to "family servants".

[/quote]

Robert E Lee could not bring himslef to say "slavery" He refered to it as the "peculiar institution"

I noticed the author doesn't cite a source and never expands on just what he means by open-ended subjective terms like "downplaying". Is there any evidence that what he says is true, or are we all just supposed to blindly take his word for it?

Yes, it is! Along with the other 49 great states. :wink:

As a matter of historical fact, America entered into the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797 which included in part the following statement: "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion " I wonder if the Texas Board would consider inserting this item in their textbooks?

Probably not, since the treaty goes on to read in Article 11.

as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Wow…I never saw that anywhere before. Still, though I’m happy to see some clarification, one wonders why they didn’t just add the world history and maintain the philosophy. I mean, after all, Jefferson wasn’t exactly without merit there as well. :shrug:

The drafting of this treaty began during George Washington’s presidency. The final draft was read in full in the Senate where it was approved unanimously and then signed by Washington’s successor, President John Adams. The full text of the treaty was also published in three American newspapers in Philadelphia and New York. The American diplomat who authored this treaty was a close friend of Jefferson.

Seems to have been widely broadcast and without controversy. I somehow doubt such would be the case today. :eek:

Since we are on the subject of Mr. Jefferson, I have found some quotes of his that may spark some further discussion on this 4th of July. They follow…

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.

This next one I find pretty interesting, though they all are thought provoking IMO.

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

Here’s another one that speaks of that.

“Our Liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Currie 1786

What do we think of this today? Do we agree or disagree? Would the majority of people do so? :hmmm:

This one certainly might have some bearing on what we have just heard from the SCOTUS.

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

Personally I kinda like this one.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

:thumbsup:

It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.

Well. there’s a statement that might not sit well with some of us. Like those folks in the news lately who are working to prevent a Muslim Mosque being built in their community.

[LIST]
]Murfreesboro, Tennessee Mosque Plan Draws Criticism from Residents *
*]Murfreesboro mosque opponents pack commission meeting | tennessean **
*]Murfreesboro mosque debate turns ugly
[/LIST]
This one is another favorite of mine.

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.

And finally, these last two certainly give me some pause.

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

I think Mr. Jefferson certainly gives us lots to think about and discuss on this 4th of July.

Happy Independence Day Everyone! http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h244/corona_stellarum/Smilies/36.png

The changes made in Texas will be in textbooks all across the country, so it doesn’t really matter.

[quote="Big_Ro, post:3, topic:204250"]

However, it is not the first step in a movement toward establishing a Theocracy in the USA. This movement has been around for a long time and is more commonly referred to as dominionism. If you search google using that term or dominionist. Unfortunately, it is supported by many Catholics. IMHO, it's an unfortunate outgrowth of the influence of evangelicals on our Church. They mistakenly believe that our Republic was formed as a religious exercise. I think however, that too often the debate is framed as a battle between those that fear and love God and those who reject religion all together. It forces many, including good and well intentioned Catholics, in to the first camp. I am a part of neither. It is because I value my proud standing as a Catholic that I fear these dominionist. They are virulently anti-catholic. They take great care, however, to hide this part of their ethos in order to attract many Catholics in to supporting their cause.

[/quote]

I highly doubt this had anything to do with this. Although I do not doubt the existence of these "dominionist", something tells me it's not as widespread as you seem to make it out to be.

The reason that the Founding Fathers believed in and supported a Seperation of Church and State is because of the radical religious elements within the colonies.

I always though the reason they supported seperation of Church and state was because they did not want the state forming a central religion as it did in their previous country?

Where can you not be Catholic, openly and proudly? There are quite a few Catholics in Texas, the Catholic Church is growing in Oklahoma especially with the influx of hispanics. I'm by no means a historical expert, but the people in small town American who have never met or been exposed to Catholics and their traditions are just downright ignorant of it, not that they fear it or hate it. They just don't know anything about it, they are comfortable with their protestant religions and have very little understanding of anything else outside of what they were born and raised in. My wife's Catholic, the first in my family they don't even bring it up, but they don't treat her any differently over it.

Sorry I was unclear but that was precisely my point – each “revolution” is motivated to paint the ancien regime in the worst light. So the Church fostered intellectual development, science, rationalism (within proper bounds), universities for centuries. Then comes the Reformation and “Enlightenment” saying “We’ve freed ourselves from all those popish limitations that were holding us back.”

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