In recent years, when conservative activists have tried to slip creationism into science textbooks adopted by Texas' State Board of Education, they have dressed it up as "intelligent design," or explained the need to teach the "weaknesses" of the theory of evolution. A Trojan horse, perhaps, and one that's been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, but it's at least a tacit acknowledgment that teaching Genesis as science in public schools amounts to an unconstitutional establishment of religion by the state.
You'll get no such rhetorical niceties from the Republicans aiming to become Texas' next lieutenant governor. At a debate in Waco on Thursday, the Texas Tribune and The Dallas Morning News report that all four expressed support for teaching biblical creationism in public schools.
Here's current Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst:
I believe that in fairness we need to expose students to both sides of this. That's why I've supported including in our textbooks the discussion of the biblical account of life and creation, and I understand there are a lot of people who disagree with me, and believe in evolution.
And State Senator Dan Patrick:
Our students ... must really be confused. They go to Sunday School on Sunday and then they go into school on Monday and we tell them they can't talk about God. I'm sick and tired of a minority in our country who want us to turn our back on God.
And Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples:
As a Christian, certainly creationism should be taught.
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Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson didn't explicitly endorse creationism, the Tribune reports, but tackled political correctness on religious issues more generally.
Show me where that's in the Constitution, because it's not in the Constitution. I see nothing wrong with standing up at least for a moment of silence, let those who wish to pray pray in their own faith. I see nothing wrong with having a prayer before a high school football game.
On a positive note, the lieutenant governor has no direct say in what Texas school children are taught.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.