Brazen religious indoctrination
(quoting first 126 words of the Declaration of Independence)When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature's God entitle them, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among them is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
(It is from this section that students are to recite by memory under state law.)
The principles set forth here and subsequently secured in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights include:
1. There is a fixed moral law derived from God and nature
2. There is a Creator
3. The Creator gives to man certain unalienable rights
4. Government exists primarily to protect God-given rights to every individual
5. Below God-given rights and moral law, government is directed by the consent of the government
Students must also understand the Framers' very explicit (and very frequent) definition of inalienable rights as being those rights given by God to every individual, independent of any government anywhere . . . . These fundamental five precepts of American government must be thoroughly understood by students, but they are not currently addressed in the TEKS.
Telling students that god is the source of their human rights is brazen religious indoctrination, especially when at the same time ignoring other sources and bases of those rights. For example, it can be argued purely on the basis of logic -- without any reference to a god at all -- that there is no good reason to deny someone a right when exercise of that right would not infringe upon the rights of others. Indeed, determining whether or not the rights of others are infringed upon provides a basis for determining what should be a right and what should not, whereas deciding what rights should be considered god-given is arbitrary. Also, I said in a previous post,
Marshall [another fundy crackpot chosen as one of the 6 experts] and Barton are just plain wrong -- there is nothing in the Constitution that says that it is based on religion, nor is there anything in the Constitution that links that document to the Declaration of Independence, which does have religious references. One would think that if the Founders wanted people to think that the Constitution is based on the bible, the Constitution would say that it is based on the bible. . . . . . . . . .Marshall and Barton are putting words in the mouths of the Founders, viewing the Constitution as a document inspired by and based on religion when the Constitution itself does not have anything that supports that view. Furthermore, IMO the principles of liberty and democracy should be regarded as universal and not particularly based on the US Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, regardless of whether or not those documents are derived from religious beliefs. It is a myth that the Declaration of Independence originated the ideas of liberty and democracy. I assert that the American Revolution's purpose was not to establish a new form of government -- the governments that the colonies had after independence were not that much different from the governments they had before independence, the only real difference being that the colonies were independent of Britain. The American Revolution was primarily just the result of the harsh so-named "Intolerable Acts," which Britain enacted in response to the Boston Tea Party.
BTW, here is Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney's interpretation of those first 126 words of the Constitution, from the Dred Scott decision:
The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole human family, and if they were used in a similar instrument at this day would be so understood. But it is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration, for if the language, as understood in that day, would embrace them, the conduct of the distinguished men who framed the Declaration of Independence would have been utterly and flagrantly inconsistent with the principles they asserted, and instead of the sympathy of mankind to which they so confidently appealed, they would have deserved and received universal rebuke and reprobation.
So one of the things that the Declaration of Independence has done hss been to expose the hypocrisy of people like Justice Taney -- and some of the Founders themselves.
As for the statement, "It is from this section that students are to recite by memory under state law," I could find no such requirement in the current 5th-grade Texas social studies TEKS, and I see no reason why there should be such a requirement.
Barton's TEKS review says (page 12-13),
The Dual Documents of American Government. The TEKS should stipulate (but currently do not) that the Declaration of Independence is symbiotic with the Constitution rather than a separate unrelated document . . . . Only in recent years have the Declaration and the Constitution wrongly been viewed as independent rather than inseparable and interdependent documents.
Obviously, Barton's main reason for trying to link the Constitution to the Declaration of Independence is that the latter document refers to a "creator," "divine providence," etc. whereas the former document does not. He is not fooling anybody. Would our Constitution be any less valid if there had been no American Revolution and no Declaration of Independence?
Barton said (page 12),
Significantly, the Constitution directly attaches itself to the Declaration by dating itself from the year of the Declaration of Independence rather than from 1787, the year of its writing
Barton is really desperate here in his efforts to attach the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution. The Constitution only mentions (in the signature section) that the constitutional convention adopted the Constitution in the twelfth year of the independence of the USA -- the Declaration of Independence itself is not even mentioned. Also, I don't know what David Barton means about the Constitution "dating itself" -- the signature section gives the date of the Constitution's adoption by the constitutional convention, Sept. 17, 1987:
Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.
I am surprised that Barton has not seized upon the conventional statement "year of our Lord" as evidence that the Constitution is based upon the word of god.
Also, Barton's TEK review did not say where the above dates are stated in the Constitution -- I had to find the location myself. He also did not give a reference for a quote of a Supreme Court opinion. This TEKS review is very poorly documented.
Barton said (page 12),
In fact, to this day every federal law passed by Congress as well as every presidential act is dated not to the Constitution but to the Declaration
Barton is really talking through his hat here. I have read a lot of federal laws and none are dated to either the Constitution or the Declaration. And I am aware of just one constitutional provision that is dated to the adoption of the Constitution, and that is the 20-year ban on federal interference with slave importation, the first clause of Sec. 9 of Article I:
The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight . . . .
Barton says (page 12),
Additionally, the admission of territories as States into the United States was typically predicated on an assurance by the state that its constitution would violate neither the Constitution nor the principles of the Declaration.
As usual, Barton provides no reference to back up this statement. It is hard to imagine something constitutional that would violate the Declaration.
One state, Utah, did have difficulty in getting admitted, and the reason was polygamy -- Utah was not admitted until its constitution banned polygamy. But polygamy does not violate the US Constitution, so here a state was denied admission because of something that did not violate the US Constitution. So the US government has expected more than just adherence to the US Constitution (and maybe the Declaration) as a condition for admission.
David Barton clearly has an ax to grind here: the indoctrination of Texas students in his religious beliefs. I am no big fan of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, but here is a good AUSCS article about David Barton.
Also, Barton's TEKS review has various trivia and dogmas, e.g., "Nowhere in the TEKS is definition given to who constitutes a Founding Father, and the current definition is dramatically different from the historic definition" (page 13); "Missing in the TEKS is any identification that the government of America is a constitutional republic" (page 14); "Also, completely absent from the TEKS is any mention of the Electoral College system and its benefits -- how it allows small states to have a voice, thus preserving the bicameral nature of America's constitutional government, allowing both the people and the states to have a voice in the selection of a president" (page 21 -- this statement ignores the many criticisms of the Electoral College system). David Barton is basically saying that the way social studies is being taught now is completely wrong and that he wants social studies to be taught his way.
It is too bad that there aren't any members of the Texas board of education who support balance in evolution education without also supporting crackpots like David Barton. It doesn't have to be that way. And it is especially annoying when all supporters of balance in evolution education are lumped together with the likes of David Barton.