GOP bill would force Michigan schools to teach "Christian foundations" of U.S.
State Rep. Joseph Fox wants to force Christian revisionist history on public school students
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A Republican lawmaker in Michigan is attempting to pass legislation requiring public schools to lie to children and tell them about the “Christian foundations of the United States.”
Thankfully, the Democrats who control the legislature aren’t going to let him get away with it.
Rep. Joseph Fox is a first-term legislator who has used his campaign Facebook page to repeatedly promote religion, saying things like Jesus “is not dead, HE IS RISEN!” and that Jesus “defeated death, sin, and Satan.” His campaign website boasts that Fox was a “Christian School Administrator and Teacher for 25 years” and that he has been a “Pastor and Missionary,” as if those are qualifications for writing laws.
His only legislative accomplishments—and I use that word loosely—involve filing a bill to hurt transgender students and passing a resolution declaring the first week of April as “Holy Week in the state of Michigan.”
Now he has filed House Bill 4672, which would order public schools to teach revisionist Christian history:
The board of a school district or intermediate school district or board of directors of a public school academy shall ensure that, in each United States history and civics course offered to pupils enrolled in the school district, intermediate school district, or public school academy, the Christian foundations of the United States are taught. This teaching must include, but is not limited to, information concerning how the pilgrims emigrated because of persecution and how that influenced the ideals and fundamentals behind early communities, and how, as these communities were formed, the communities cultivated democratic forms of government and Christian ethics simultaneously for the prosperity and safety of the commonwealth.
What “Christian ethics” did they cultivate? He never says.
Which “Christian foundations” are we talking about? He never says.
He told the Detroit News, however, that his objective was very clear: He wanted to shift the narrative from those pesky historical accounts connecting our nation’s founding with slavery to something that makes his Christian tribe look better:
In a Friday statement, Fox, a first-term lawmaker and retired Christian school teacher, said there were "narratives" that attempted to "categorically shift the focus of instruction about the colonial era."
Among the "narratives," Fox mentioned the 1619 Project, an initiative of The New York Times Magazine that "aims to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative," according to the project.
You can’t talk about the literal foundations of our country without discussing the role of slavery. You can, however, ignore conservative Christianity because the founders made it clear that an important aspect of evading religious persecution was the idea of religious neutrality by the government. There’s a reason Jesus doesn’t show up in the founding documents.
If Christianity played any role in our founding, it was used as justification to uphold slavery and prevent large swaths of the country from voting. And, hey, if Fox wants to make sure this history of his religion is taught in every classroom, I’m all for it.
Fox seems to have been brainwashed by Christian pseudo-historian David Barton, who has spent his career spreading misinformation about the founders’ supposed Christian leanings.
He went on to say church/state separation was a hoax before openly admitting he’s a bit of a theocrat himself:
In an interview, Fox said said the separation of church and state is not specifically mentioned U.S. and Michigan Constitution. He said he doesn't believe in the separation as it is usually taught.
"The church has abdicated its authority many times in relation to the state," Fox said.
Fox said in a sense, he is theocratic. God is in charge of the government, he said of his belief system.
Those are words you expect to hear in an Islamic dictatorship, not a secular democracy. The people who claim the Constitution doesn’t mention church/state separation have never read the First Amendment, much less seen how courts have interpreted it for several decades.
He hasn’t read the state constitution either, apparently, since Article I § 4 is about as explicit a defense of church/state separation as you will ever see:
Every person shall be at liberty to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. No person shall be compelled to attend, or, against his consent, to contribute to the erection or support of any place of religious worship, or to pay tithes, taxes or other rates for the support of any minister of the gospel or teacher of religion. No money shall be appropriated or drawn from the treasury for the benefit of any religious sect or society, theological or religious seminary; nor shall property belonging to the state be appropriated for any such purpose. The civil and political rights, privileges and capacities of no person shall be diminished or enlarged on account of his religious belief.
If you’re trying to find the exact phrase “separation of church and state,” you won’t find it. If you’re looking for the underlying principle, though, it’s in both documents.
The good news here is that Democrats control the state government, and they’re effectively laughing off this garbage bill:
Michigan Democratic lawmakers, who control the legislative agenda in the Senate and House, criticized Fox's bill. Rep. Matt Koleszar, D-Plymouth, the chairman of the House Education Committee, tweeted that his panel was focused on advancing legislation that "actually benefits Michigan students."
"We will not take up unconstitutional bills written by people who oppose a well-rounded education in favor of religious indoctrination," Koleszar added.
Of Fox's bill, Rep. Noah Arbit, D-West Bloomfield, tweeted, "This Jewish member of the majority party says: Over my dead body."
That’s the benefit of having thoughtful people in charge. Mindless bills like Fox’s can be filed but they won’t be taken seriously. Students in Michigan won’t have to sacrifice their education to fulfill the theocratic fantasies of Republicans.
Incidentally, the bill has several GOP sponsors, including Matt Maddock, Rachelle Smit, James DeSana, Angela Rigas, Gina Johnsen, Nancy DeBoer, Neil Friske, Luke Meerman, and Josh Schriver.
Not a single one of them cares about Michigan students getting a strong, comprehensive, secular education. The GOP loves to scare people with words like “indoctrination” and “grooming,” but these are the very people perpetuating both ideas. If it’s in the name of Jesus, they’ll let anything slide.
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