No, a 7th grader in Katy, TX was not “Forced To Deny God Is Real Or Take Failing Grade,” but that didn’t stop hardline conservatives in government and media from exploiting an ill-informed headline.
It had all the trappings of the perfect conservative boogie man, including well, that it wasn’t real. But for opportunistic culture warriors it opened another front in the “War on Christianity.” It wasn’t just government infringing on religious freedom, but it was public schools indoctrinating children that God was a “myth.”
In reality, it was a class assignment meant to encourage, brace yourself… “critical thinking.” You may remember that the Texas GOP’s platform actually rejects teaching “critical thinking skills.” Students were given several statements to identify as fact, opinion, or common assertion. The district did apologize for including the “ill conceived” question in reference to God, but the teacher never forced the student to say God is not real, nor did she threaten to fail her.
Facts are boring so it’s no surprise that without verifying the incident that Texas’ top Elected Officials Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton jumped at the chance to praise the 12 year old for “defending her faith in God.” Those were Paxton’s words and since his felony indictment he has spent a LOT of time campaigning in churches across the state.
Governor Abbott invited the 7th grader to the Governor’s mansion, presumably in a tit for tat response to the President inviting Ahmed the clock kid to the White House.
The GOP held half a dozen or so hearings on Benghazi and are still unsure what they believe, yet they were happy to take the testimony of a 7th grader as Gospel. Now that the school district has brought some clarity to the situation — that the assignment was not for a grade — will these leaders apologize, or correct the record? Likely not. Even though the situation has brought great personal grief to the teacher, also a Christian, the incident has already served its purpose and an apology would distract from the vilification of the public school system.
What is obvious here is that Republicans and conservatives, especially in Texas, will do anything or say anything to establish Christian supremacy and tear down any wall between church and state.
If it was about “Religious Freedom” over Christian supremacy here are a couple of stories from just this week they can RAGE on. The very next story by the same Houston reporter who broke this was about the “Church of Lucifer” being vandalized before its grand opening. “…it’s been easy to find. It’s been the one with Christian protesters on the front sidewalk. And, as of Thursday, it’s the building with the large Pecan tree branch on its roof courtesy of a chainsaw-wielding vandal.”
And in SETX, where Paxton and Abbott have celebrated public school cheerleaders for using Bible verses on football banners, Atheists who sponsored a stretch of highway through the state’s Adopt a Highway program, had their official signs vandalized as well. Culture warriors love to use the term “Islamic terrorism,” but we may have to introduce a new phrase — Christian Evandalism.
Also, let’s not forget that by March 2015 had already been a very rough year to be a Muslim in Texas. Maybe they could use some institutional support from their government leaders? Yeah, don’t hold your breath.