Cynthia Dunbar's SBOE Prayer: “Christian Land Governed by Christian Principles”

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This morning, the SBOE began their session with a prayer. I'll let the Texas Freedom Network take it from here — the video pasted below is theirs, from their post, “Christian Land Governed by Christian Principles“:

Even before the Texas State Board of Education took up its expected debate today over what students will learn about separation about church and state in their social studies classrooms, board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, made her position clear. She offered the board’s opening prayer this morning and removed any doubt about what she and other far-right board members want students to learn: America’s laws and government should be based on the Christian Bible.

The Texas Freedom Network caught video of Dunbar's prayer:

A recent poll by the Texas Freedom Network showed that a “big majority” of Texans favor the separation of church and state:

The May 4-12 statewide poll by the national firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the TFN Education Fund shows that 68 percent of likely Texas voters agree that church-state separation is a key principle of the Constitution. Agreement extends across party lines, with 59 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of political independents believing it is a key principle. (The question wording and poll results are available here.)

In addition, 72 percent of Texas voters – and 78 percent of parents – say that teachers and academic scholars should be responsible for writing curriculum standards and textbook requirements for Texas public schools. Only 19 percent prefer that elected members of a State Board of Education do so.

The Texas Freedom Network has been knocking it out of the park with their ongoing coverage and action on the State Board of Education. What began with a hugely successful rally and has continued with excellent liveblogging and reporting, the Texas Freedom Network has merged sophisticated communication with grassroots activisism that should make any Texan proud.

Previously on BOR:


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. Rump Ranger on

    Good Job
    Kudos to you for hating on Christ. BTW, didn't you make a big deal about no longer being a regular writer for BOR? Or was that just a pledge to stay off Burka?

    • Actually
      I regularly attend St. Louis Catholic Church, where I was baptized, performed my first act of contrition, received my first communion, and was confirmed. I also attended school there from Kindergarten through eight grade, after which I joined the Sunday choir and played guitar for six years.

      But thanks for reading!

  2. Just a thought…
    Perhaps one of the reasons so many of conservative Christians downplay the impact that slavery had on the United States is because the Bible makes no mention that slavery is wrong. In fact, wouldn't you figure that would be one of the ten commandments?

  3. offended
    I am so offended by this prayer i dont even know where to begin.  but since i'm an elder in my (presbyterian) church i'll just smile and know god will ensure she gets her just rewards.

    and vote for Rebecca B-M in District 5

  4. Well…
    The term “separation of church and state” is not included in the Constitution, though many people seem to thing that it is.

    What is in the Constitution simply states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    I for one believe that there should be a clear differentiation between what Thomas Jefferson wrote in a private letter to a Baptist minister and what is written in the governing document of our nation.

    • Guess what else is not in the Constitution…
      “Christian Nation”, “Christian principles”, Jesus”, “Christ”, “Jesus Christ”, “my Savior”, “the Bible”,or even “God”. “Lord” is mentioned only in relation to calendar date: “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”.

      The primary author James Madison was a smart guy that took care of details. If our(second try at) government was set up as “a Christian Land Governed by Christian Principles”, I think he could have written it so, and yet it is not mentioned.

      I'll take Thomas Jefferson's explanation over the zealots' on the SBOE.  Or yours, txgal

      • Declaration
        Yet many of the names used to address the Christian God are written in the Declaration of Independence which precedes the Constitution.

  5. Personally
    I don't understand why anyone would wear a slip instead of a blouse while leading a prayer.  But I'm conservative that way. (I assume that's Dunbar with her back to the camera).

    And then there's this from the TFN link:

    At least she's wearing clothes. It's clear from this video that she would be intolerant of anyone who is not an Evangelical Christian.

    • Is she speaking in tongues?
      What a disingenuous prayer.

      For the believers:

      Matthew 6:5-6.

      “When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

      Why not believe all of it??

      • Well
        It does seem to be a prayer more suitable to an Evangelical Christian's view of the world. Merging politics and this view of the world is very troublesome for the rest of us.  I still wonder why more mainline Christian leaders haven't spoken up louder and more often.  

  6. Historical Prayer
    It seems to me everyone's getting upset because Mrs. Dunbar mentioned her overt opinion in her prayers concerning the founding and basis of this nation. However, she was simply quoting the words of a very liberal judge who stated many of those same words in his prayer 50-some years ago. Is it so upsetting that this woman knows her history and is willing to voice it in prayer? It certainly seems a fitting circumstance to say such things.

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