Fortunately, that segment was confined to just a brief minute of air time. Much worse is the wholesale rewriting of history occurring in Texas as a result of the State Board of Education’s approval of new textbooks that raise Moses to the level of a Founding Father, according to articles on Patheos and Right Wing Watch. I have not seen the textbooks and cannot confirm Pantheos’s claims, but the New York Times reported that dissenting board members did raise questions about the inclusion of Moses in the U.S. history and government curriculum.
According to the Texas Freedom Network, “the new textbooks also include passages that suggest Moses influenced the writing of the Constitution and that the roots of democracy can be found in the Old Testament.” The Daily Beast quotes Southern Methodist University department chair Kathleen Wellman as saying that the books depict Moses as an honorary Founding Father.
We all know that the Constitution is routinely depicted as the Third Testament among Christian conservatives, who have suggested that it was divinely inspired.
- You shall have no other gods before Me. – NO; there is no mention of God, and the First Amendment and religious test clause permit other gods.
- You shall not make idols. – NO; permitted under the First Amendment.
- You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain. – NO; permitted under the First Amendment.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. NO; even the statutory laws about this at the local level have largely been overturned.
- Honor your father and your mother. NO; no mention at all.
- You shall not murder. NO; the Constitution allows for making laws about murder but sets no demand for federal murder statutes.
- You shall not commit adultery. NO; see above—and the local laws have largely been repealed or are unenforceable.
- You shall not steal. NO; again, the Constitution allows for such laws but does not demand them. You might stretch the high crime of “bribery” to fit this, though.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. NO; perjury is a crime but not a Constitutional offense.
- You shall not covet. NO; covet all you want.
We could look at the rest of the Law, but I have a feeling nobody would try making the case that the Constitution has much to say about mixed fibers, cross-breeding animals, etc. In fact, the one place where the Law and the Constitution are closest is the place where later generations struck it out by amendment: in endorsing slavery of people considered non-members of the citizenry.
The claim that modern democracy emerges from the Old Testament—a book devoted to patriarchs, Judges, and Kings—rather than from the ancient Athenians, the Roman Republic, and Enlightenment Europe comes to us from a tortured argument based on 1 Samuel 8. There, God initially refuses the call to appoint a monarch, and accedes only when the people “vote” for a monarchy. If you care about the whole of the argument, you can read a 1976 version of it here.
Evaluating bad claims is important because bad ideas keep popping up in unexpected places, from an innocuous show about sugar to your children’s social studies book.
So that’s why I’m going to finish out today’s blog post with an advertisement, just like the ones recently running on Wikipedia and in the Mozilla Firefox browser.
On December 1, the bill for this website comes due. For the past two years, since 2012, you have enjoyed the benefits of premium website performance due to the generous donations of readers like you, which allowed me to purchase a two-year Weebly Pro subscription. This Weebly level allows me more control over the website and a wider range of web tools to help maximize the user experience.
If everyone who reads this blog gave just $1 using the convenient donation button on the right side of the page, I would—well, I’d be in a new income bracket. A lot of people read this blog. Realistically, I’m looking to raise the money to fund the website for the next two years. Money raised through donations is used to pay for professional level web service, domain registration fees, and research materials to support the site and this blog.
Won’t you consider donating a few dollars to help defray the costs of running my website? The IndieGoGo campaign to raise $20,000 to send David Childress in search of the Ark of the Covenant raised just $75. Surely my generous readers can do better than that!