Aug 16, 2013 by Sarah Jones
‘Celebrate Freedom Week’ is more than it seems on the surface. It’s really the brainchild of Rick Green, a former Texas state representative with strong ties to discredited writer David Barton.
Kansas schoolchildren will take part in “Celebrate Freedom Week” next month thanks to a recently-passed bill intended, its authors say, to celebrate the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Sounds innocuous enough—who could possibly object to a celebration of the Constitution?
But Celebrate Freedom Week is more than it seems on the surface. It’s really the brainchild of Rick Green, a former Texas state representative with strong ties to discredited writer David Barton. As Green’s website proudly declares, he successfully pushed to get the same legislation passed in Texas. It remains one of his only legislative successes.
As we reported in 2006, Green lost his seat after a mere two terms in the Texas House—shortly after being named one of the 10 worst state lawmakers by Texas Monthly. A true snake oil salesman, Green earned this dubious distinction after he filmed an infomercial in the state Capitol for vitamins that would “supercharge your brain.”
Now he’s brought his traveling legislative carnival to Kansas. Like Barton, Green peddles ‘Christian nation’ dogma disguised as history. The model legislation he proposes forbids the “censorship” of the Founding Fathers’ religious beliefs—a not- so-subtle way to slip Religious Right revisionism into public classrooms.
Green makes it clear on his website that he’s bought into Barton’s phony “history.” He’s appeared on WallBuilders Radio since 2005 and even produced a series of television episodes with Barton that lauded America’s “biblical foundations.”
Kansas Rep. John Bradford, who co-sponsored the legislation, told reporters that the goal is to encourage patriotism in schoolchildren. “I have pride and I want to instill that pride in all the kids in the neighborhood,” he said.
Patriotism is one thing; Christian nationalism is quite another. The Kansas House of Representatives passed Green’s model legislation with only one minor adjustment: Students will not be expected to recite the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence. It’s no mystery why Green’s model legislation included that requirement. That sentence includes Thomas Jefferson’s famous reference to the Creator as the source of our “inalienable rights.”
But even with this adjustment there’s cause for concern. Micheline Burger of the Mainstream Coalition called the bill “unconstitutional” and pointed to Green’s ties to David Barton as evidence. She’s absolutely correct to be concerned.
This bill isn’t the only attempt to push religion in Kansas schools. The Wichita Eagle reported that conservative lawmakers are also advancing bills that would force teachers to include perspectives on global warming and other scientific subjects that would contradict prevailing scientific views. Legislators are also trying to block Common Core standards on reading and math, calling it an “unfunded mandate.”
That’s right. In Kansas, mandated standards on reading and math are unacceptable, but mandated instruction in David Barton’s warped version of American history is welcomed with open arms.
Green and his supporters in Kansas don’t really want to celebrate our Constitution. This legislation is intended to mandate the indoctrination of American schoolchildren—to tell them that, contrary to what their textbooks might say, the Founding Fathers always intended for government to advance Christianity.
That’s a direct violation of the same Constitution Green claims to love so much. At Americans United, we routinely oppose fundamentalist attempts to insert religion into public classrooms, whether the topic is biology or American history. Students should learn facts, not dogma, when they’re at school.
Green, Barton and the Kansas representatives responsible for passing this legislation could do with a lesson on the Constitution themselves.
Americans United represents members and supporters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We come from different religious, political and philosophical viewpoints, but we share a common commitment to church-state separation and individual freedom.