Texas Freedom Network
|Legal status||501(c)4 Educational Organization|
|Purpose||Religious Freedom, Civil Liberties|
|Affiliations||Texas Freedom Network Education Fund|
The Texas Freedom Network (TFN) is a Texas organization formed to protect religious freedom, defend civil liberties, and strengthen public schools in the State of Texas. Their activism takes the form of grassroots organizing to counter the activities of the Christian right in the state, providing an alternative media perspective on issues, training people to identify and oppose the Christian Right's activities, promote tolerance of other people's religious freedom, and providing policy alternatives. It was formed in 1996 by Cecile Richards. As of the late 1990s, it had fewer than three thousand contributors and only three full-time staff, but had been relatively successful in its media efforts and has been credited for making it more difficult for the Christian Right to get its message out uncontested. By 2004 it had 19,000 members.
Leadership and direction
Under Richards' leadership the organization focused mainly on education, but under the leadership of Samantha Smoot (1998-2004) it broadened its focus to include hate crimes and gay rights. As of February 2009, Kathy Miller is the president.
The TFN has opposed the attempts of Don McLeroy and other religious conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education to mandate that Texas high schools offer Bible classes and change history textbook standards, arguing that many of the proposed changes violate religious freedom and the separation of church and state. TFN has also closely followed the activities of the Board of Education and activists on other education issues, such as the teaching of evolution in public schools.
Bible study curricula
In 2005 TFN criticized the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools curriculum for promoting a fundamentalist Christian view and violating religious freedom. It commissioned a report by Southern Methodist University biblical scholar Mark A. Chancey, which found:
a blatant sectarian bias, distortions of history and science, numerous factual errors, poor sourcing reveal a curriculum that is clearly inappropriate for the 1,000 public schools the NCBCPS claims use its materials.
In a survey commissioned by TFN, "94% of Texas scientists indicated that claimed "weaknesses" are not valid scientific objections to evolution (with 87% saying that they “strongly disagree” that such weaknesses should be considered valid)."
- In February 2009 a TFN-funded study conducted by two Texas State University researchers, titled Just Say Don't Know: Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools found that in many cases, students are given misleading and inaccurate information about the risks associated with sex.
- Rozell, Mark (1997). God at the Grass Roots, 1996. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 45–46. ISBN 0-8476-8611-6.
- Green, John (2000). Prayers in the Precincts. Washington: Georgetown University Press. p. 53. ISBN 0-87840-775-8.
- Smoot Steps Down, Rachel Proctor May, The Austin Chronicle, October 15, 2004
- Study: Texas schools flunking sex ed, Laura Heinauer, Salt Lake City Tribune, 25 February 2009
- "Watchdog group attacks school Bible study". USA Today. 2005-08-01. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
- Brick, Michael (2009-03-27). "Defeat and Some Success for Texas Evolution Foes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
- Watchdog group attacks school Bible study, USA Today
- Executive Summary, The Bible and Public Schools: Report on the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, Mark A. Chancey
- EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM & PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Surveying What Texas Scientists Think about Educating Our Kids in the 21st Century, Texas Freedom Network
- 8 link is broken
- Texas Freedom Network- Official