Texas Board of Ed: Textbooks Are Anti-Christian

Stack of textbooks with apple and symbol of Islam with Texas flag CBS/IStockphoto

Texas' State Board of Education - following a long history of throwing itself into "culture war" issues - is set to vote Friday on a resolution calling on textbook publishers to limit what they print about Islam in world history books.

The resolution cites world history books no longer used in Texas schools that it says devoted more lines of text to Islamic beliefs and practices than Christian beliefs and practices.

"Diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts," reads a draft of the resolution, which would not be binding on future boards that will choose the state's next generation of social studies texts.

The measure was first suggested to the board this summer by Odessa businessman Randy Rives, who lost his Republican primary bid for a seat on the panel earlier this year.

The conservative-leaning and heavily evangelical Christian board pushed the item to a vote.

Board member Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, suggested the issue may be moot because none of the books cited by Rives still are being used in Texas, having been replaced in 2003, and said Rives "might want to go back and get newer copies of the books."

Don McLeroy, who is serving the final months of his term after also losing in the GOP primary, said he believes even current textbooks still reflect an anti-Christian bias.

"The biggest problem I saw was their overreach not to be 'ethnocentric,"' McLeroy said of an Advanced Placement world history book approved in 2003 and still in use. "It's a very, very, very, very biased book. Christianity didn't even make it in the table of contents."

McLeroy is one of the most outspoken of a group of board members who have pushed several conservative requirements for social study textbooks used in Texas, including that teachers cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers.

"It's that great idea. That radical idea of Judeo-Christianity, that man is created in the image of God. So if you have world history books that downplay Christianity - Judeo-Christianity - and it doesn't even make it in the table of contents, I think there's a great concern," McLeroy said.

Some educators fear the debate might lead to a revision of history. "I was a social studies teacher, and, I'm sorry. History is what it is. It happened," Gayle Fallon of the Houston Federation of Teachers told CBS affiliate KHOU.

Fallon said the claim that books devote more lines to Islam that Christianity is baseless anyway.

"I've talked to the history teachers. They say there's nothing there," Fallon said. "A textbook should not proselytize for any side. It should present fact. And, from what we've seen of the text, they present fact."

In the board's official resolution, members cite textbook passages that call Christian Crusaders "invaders" and "violent attackers," while claiming Muslims were "empire builders."

Kathy Miller, spokeswoman for the Texas Freedom Network, a religious freedom group, called the resolution "another example of board members putting politics ahead of just educating our kids."

"Once again, without consulting any real experts, the board's politicians are manufacturing a bogus controversy," Miller said. No textbooks cited in the resolution are still being used in Texas schools, she told The Dallas Morning news for a Wednesday story.

The resolution concludes by warning publishers the "State Board of Education will look to reject future prejudicial social studies submissions that continue to offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world's major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage space-wise and by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others."
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