Bias Lies Religion Vouchers

Rebecca Klein: Christian Textbooks Echo Trump Rhetoric

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Rebecca Klein, education editor of Huffington Post, reviewed the textbooks written for and used in Christian schools and found that they repeated the lies of Trump and the far-right. Because of vouchers, many of these Christian schools receive public funds.

Klein wrote:

Christian textbooks used in thousands of schools around the country teach that President Barack Obama helped spur destructive Black Lives Matter protests, that the Democrats’ choice of 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton reflected their focus on identity politics, and that President Donald Trump is the “fighter” Republicans want, a HuffPost analysis has found.

The analysis, which focused on three popular textbooks from two major publishers of Christian educational materials ― Abeka and BJU Press ― looked at how the books teach the Trump era of politics. We found that all three are characterized by a skewed version of history and a sense that the country is experiencing an urgent moral decline that can only be fixed by conservative Christian policies. Language used in the books overlaps with the rhetoric of Christian nationalism, often with overtones of nativism, militarism and racism as well. 

Scholars say textbooks like these, with their alternate versions of history and emphasis on Christian national identity, represent one small part of the conditions that lead to events like last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, an episode that was permeated with the symbols of Christian nationalism. Before storming the Capitol, some groups prayed in the name of Jesus and asked for divine protection. They flew Christian and “Jesus 2020” flags and pointed to Trump’s presidency as the will of God. The linkage between Christian beliefs and the violent attack on Congress has since pushed evangelical leaders to confront their own relationship with Trump and their support for the rioters...

Representatives from BJU Press and Abeka did not respond to inquiries about how many schools use their products. However, a 2017 HuffPost investigation found that about one-third of Christian schools participating in private school choice programs used a curriculum created by these two publishers or a similar company called Accelerated Christian Education, amounting to around 2,400 schools. The number of schools using these company’s products that do not participate in a voucher program likely amounts to thousands more. (Voucher programs allow students to use taxpayer funds to attend private schools.) 

HuffPost’s previous investigation of these textbooks found that they also dismiss evolution as junk science, characterize Nelson Mandela as a “marxist agitator” who helped drive South Africa to “radical affirmative action,” and suggest that Satan hatched the idea of modern psychology. Many of the schools that use these books also ban LGBTQ students and families, and the books repeatedly condemn homosexuality. At one point in an Abeka textbook, slavery is described in purely economic terms, saying that “slaves seemed to be better investments than indentured servants.”

“I absolutely thought of these textbooks when watching what played out last week,” Wellman said. “It’s the anti-science culture, anti-elite, the identification of Christianity with military culture.”

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