Texas Debates Adding Religion to U.S. History Curriculum

The Texas Board of Education is debating whether to modify its American history curriculum to acknowledge the influence that religion had on the country's founding.

Supporters of amplifying the religious aspects of U.S. history in Texas public schools argue that it is simply telling the truth about how America was founded.

Peter Marshall, an evangelical minister and president of Peter Marshall Ministries, is one of six experts appointed by the Texas Board of Education to review the state's social studies curriculum.

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Marshall says the "foremost problem" he sees with the current curriculum is that it does not give enough credit to "the biblical motivations of America's settlers and founders."

"Our children need to know the truth about how our country got started," Marshall said to

"You never read about how the founding fathers were nearly all Christian believers and that it is their biblical world view that shaped the way they thought and achieved what they did," he said.

Other experts argue that students must understand that the religious faith of the country's founders was a big influence on the formation of the Constitution.

However, the American Humanist Association fought back with an open letter to the Texas State Board of Education on Thursday urging it not to rewrite the state's social studies curriculum in a way where the United States would be taught as having a Christian heritage.

"A troubling trend has developed over the past few years by religious conservatives to revise history in order to portray the United States as a Christian nation," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, in a statement.

"But the United States government is secular and our society is made up of people from all faiths and non-faith. It's dishonest and inaccurate to teach our kids anything else."

The current debate has attracted national attention because the decision of the Texas Board of Education is expected to affect school curriculums beyond its borders. As the second largest school system in the nation, behind California, a decision to expand the role that religion played in U.S. history could affect the textbooks used by schools nationwide. Major textbook publishers, experts explained, would likely modify their books to reflect the needs of one of their biggest clients.

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