I don’t believe I’ve ever had such an extensive post here devoted as much as this one is to the antics of Cynthia Dunbar. Hence, it’s tempting to use something like “Dumb and Dunbar” as the title of this post. (Is it really possible that nobody has used that title before?)
I can’t do that though, because I can see that Cynthia Noland Dunbar, Esq., is anything but dumb. In the chicanery discussed here, in fact, she’s wicked clever — quite literally — and wicked in ways that reveal dangers lurking ahead for education in Texas, and in the nation generally. The message of this post: if she walks like a lame duck, and quacks like a lame duck, that’s no doubt because she is, in fact, a lame duck; but that’s no reason to stop taking her seriously.
The week after lame duck Cynthia Dunbar’s blasphemous “invocation” at the beginning of the meeting in which the Texas SBOE adopted its outrageous changes to the state’s Social Studies standards, a “News and Events” item on the website of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University (where she’s been teaching now) shamelessly proclaims how she was using God as part of a hoax aimed at “making a mockery” of “the liberal media and organizations that blasted me [Dunbar] for saying ‘Christian land governed by Christian principles.’”
But it’s not they who should feel mocked, but rather decent, honest Christians, and the God in whom they have their faith.
As I previously posted in a string of comments on this blog
Here’s a link to a blog post with video of the “prayer” that [Ed Darrell is] referring to.
I was listening to the feed while she delivered this “invocation,” and I was shocked. It was not even in the form of an invocation — with all the “I believe this”s and “I believe that”s. Turns out, it’s from a 1954 Prayer Breakfast speech by Earl Warren.
This was not a prayer, but a political stunt in the form of prayer. Mrs. Dunbar pressed God into her service as a tool for her political chicanery. This, from a Judeo-Christian point of view, is a form of blasphemy.
Dunbar’s ungodly politicking in the guise of “prayer” continues beyond the venue of SBOE meetings, for example in this Prayer Day performance:
In the official Catechism of the Catholic Church (the faith in which I was brought up), the different forms of prayer, as found in the Bible, are elaborated:
The forms of prayer revealed in the apostolic and canonical Scriptures remain normative for Christian prayer.
- I. Blessing and Adoration
- II. Prayer of Petition
- III. Prayer of Intercession
- IV. Prayer of Thanksgiving
- V. Prayer of Praise
The same — or very similar — formulations are found in many Protestant sources, as well.
“Political stunts” and “political grandstanding” are not recognized as forms of prayer — except in Dunbar’s brand of post-Christian zealotry — they are, rather, just political stunts and grandstanding in the dishonest guise of prayer — indeed, in a mockery of Christian prayer.
Consider what Jesus had to say concerning prayer, as related in Luke 18: 10-14 (this time, I’ll use the Protestant New Living Translation™):
10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector.” * * *
14 I tell you, [the tax collector], not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Dunbar pulls a trick move here, however, for overcoming what Luke’s Gospel tells us about prayer. Whereas the Pharisee, in his prayer, loudly and publicly proclaims his lack of sin, Dunbar, in hers, no less loudly and publicly proclaims that she’s a sinner — but this is just her new post-Christian way of claiming the same kind of righteousness and, beyond that, claiming that her politics are the politics of God, that her thoughts are the thoughts of God, and that her own work is God’s own work. What need is there for prayers of worship, when ones God is just she whom one sees in mirrors?
So, should we charitably consider Dunbar to be profoundly “challenged” when it comes to prayer — hence, perhaps, deserving of our sympathies, and perhaps even of our prayers?
Such questions are not the concern of this blog, which is concerned, rather, with matters of curriculum.
The purpose of this blog post is to raise concerns about curriculum — concerns that are underscored by Dunbar’s antics as a lame duck education policy maker.
No longer concerned with re-election, Dunbar now feels free to “take a new trip on the extremism train,” as reported and discussed @ TFN.
Dunbar lets it all hang out in an interview on “The American View” Radio Program, which describes itself as
… a weekly, one-hour, nationally syndicated program [that] addresses current events and issues from the perspective that America’s roots stem from God, the traditional family and a Constitutional Republic.
… This fast-moving program … features hard-hitting interviews from a non-partisan, principled perspective.
By “non-partisan,” they apparently mean not committed to the mainstream of either the Democratic or Republican party in the U.S. They apparently do not recognize their own more extreme form of partisanship.
You can listen to the entire interview here:
… or you can download it from this link: “Dunbar: A Christian Lady With Zeal and Knowledge”
(Note: This is a 44-minute audio that you can also download from the link on the website for the radio program. The file linked here is half the size of that one (5MB@16kbps, vs. 10MB@32kbps). Also, the audio in the file here is “normalized” so that Dunbar’s speaking via telephone is raised to about the same level as that of the in-studio interviewer.)
Several salient points are quoted and commented on in TFN’s post on this interview. Some of these are included in these audio clips from the program:
Eugenie Scott — “worshiper of science” — “her name is Legion”
4½ min. audio clip:
At one point the interviewer, John Lofton, asks Dunbar to comment on this exchange between her and Eugenie Scott of NCSE:
Lofton has a lot of fun in his characterization of Eugenie Scott, as follows:
Now, this “Eugenie Scott” lady is … she’s a worshiper of science — she is a science worshiper — I forget the name of the group … it doesn’t matter… her name is Legion … her name is Legion.
“What’s with this ‘name is Legion’ business, anyway,” you might be wondering — with perhaps some suspicion that he’s spouting some kind of unintelligible nonsense. But for those conversant in the tongues spoken amongst themselves by Dunbar, Lofton, and their audience, it is a clear invocation of this exchange between Jesus and one (while yet a legion of) man-possessing demon(s):
Mark 5:9 (KJV) – And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
While Lofton (and Dunbar, in her reaction) may be flirting with the suggestion that Scott, NCSE, and the community of scientists are now threatening a demonic possession of the minds of school children, the more precise notion being asserted here is that the particular identities of “this Eugenie Scott lady” and her organization are not important, insofar as they can be taken as representing the “Legion” of like-minded spirits who are threatening to posses the minds of students and school graduates.
Lofton’s initial more substantive point with the Scott-Dunbar interchange is to to ridicule as “stupid” Scott’s position that the consensus within the scientific community should be taught in science classes. (See my previous post here on Dunbar & Scott on Arber — scientific consensus vs. scientific knowledge? on Dunbar’s posturing on this.)
From there, the interviewer jumps to Scott’s statement that the science classroom should not be hijacked as a venue for waging Culture Wars. Lofton counters with a quotation from John Dunphy that is near and dear to the hearts of anti-humanists:
I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers that correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being …
The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new — the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with the promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of ‘love thy neighbor’ will finally be achieved.
In the course of her response, Dunbar says that
We’re the only ones who don’t end up proselytizing for converts … When I talked to her [Scott], umh, and actually going back, I mean that’s John Dewey’s viewpoint when you were talking about humanism being propagated within the public education system, I mean they weren’t covert about it; they were very clear …
I don’t know what Scott said that Dunbar is interpreting as going along with Dumphy on the proper use of classrooms (it would have been good of Dunbar to be more specific about what Scott actually said), but it is disingenuous, at best, to represent Dunphy as speaking here for humanists in general on the proper use of classrooms, and it should be noted that Genie’s own position puts her at odds with “new atheists” such as PZ Myers who contend that teaching science entails teaching against religious faith (see, for example, my post on Mooney & the “new atheists”: another round).
In another segment, Dunbar explains that THE Biblical World-View is one that controls all aspects of life, such that those who testified that their lives are based on the Bible, but that they support teaching natural science, simply do not understand that they have been taken over by the alternative worldview. The framework that insists that these are the only possibilities — a totalizing Theistic worldview or a totalizing anti-Theistic world view — is the framework that she and her SBOE colleagues have tried to impose — while arguing that, since they want students to learn about “both sides,” hence they are not imposing their own view. But this framework is their own view — a view based on their religious beliefs — and hence, a religious view that they insist be taught in public schools. People who don’t share those beliefs — including intensely religious people — don’t see these rival totalitarian belief systems as the only possibilities. This one is 1 min., 42 sec.:
Note how Dunbar’s notion of THE Biblical View accords with the posturing of the program itself as “THE AMERICAN VIEW” radio program. In the intro to this interview, the host trumpets the claim that this show presents THE one, true, American View — one that he claims dates back to the views held by this country since the early 1600’s (?).
Of course, Lofton and Dunbar are claiming that these views are not just their own beliefs or preferences, but rather that they are the truth, which is why they should be taught in public schools. But listen to Dunbar’s explanation of the “only one definition of truth,” that “it’s not a thing, it’s a Person” (45 seconds):
So anybody who claims to be a Christian, but supports science teaching that seeks any other “truth” but hers, is just confused — they don’t understand that they cannot be really Christians.
And the people who think Jefferson’s Danbury letter supports “separation of church and state” are simply ignorant, and liars to boot (3 minutes):
I wonder if she counts George Washington as one of the ignorant liars who have claimed that the Constitution was meant to protect the non-religious, as well as the religious? See Encore quote of the moment: George Washington on religious freedom at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.
I’m starting to feel that if anybody is still reading this post, they might be thinking that I’m giving way too much space, time, and attention to a couple of whack-jobs. Although I meant to save the video below for a later post, I think I need to add it now as just one example showing why we need to know about this discourse, which usually is kept out of sight from the general public, but keeps swirling in those circles that emerge from time to time, as in the SBOE decisions, in ways that threaten great damage to the common weal.
This 38-second video shows a GOP candidate for Congress denying that the “Separation of Church and State” dates back to Jefferson’s Danbury letter, and insisting that the phrase itself actually “came out of Adolf Hitler’s mouth”:
I will do a separate post later with this video clip, with background on this example, along with comments on persisting concerns over future developments with SBOE and elsewhere. For now, this is an example of what can pass for truth among people for whom programs like Lofton’s radio show, and like Glenn Beck’s radio and TV programs, etc., provide their daily fare of “information.”
Here’s Dunbar on the Jefferson/Calvin/Enlightenment issue (3 min.):
“I’m very disconcerting [sic],” says Dunbar, about ignorance concerning “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” (2:20):
She doesn’t seem to be aware of Jefferson’s categorical rejection of Blackstone’s beliefs on such matters.
Also note how the use of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the clip above is another instance of the same kind of stunt that Dunbar tried to pull with Earl Warren’s speech as her “invocation” at the SBOE meeting.
Could she or Lofton actually think that King believed anything like the line that they are pushing?
Lofton contends that Americans had no use for Enlightenment, or even Philosophy, for that matter (2:40):
Dunbar explains the importance of what they’re doing insofar as Texas can drive the agenda for textbooks nationwide.
Theocracy : Godly Rule :: Democracy : Rule by Demons (yuk! yuk!)
In the clip above, Dunbar also complains about the ignorance of Americans saying that we live in a Democracy. She says the idea of a “democratic republic” is “basically illogical … it’s a misnomer.”At the end of this clip, Lofton and Dunbar yuk it up over what his grandson said about democracy and demons.
This answer to her nonsense was laid out pretty well during the hearings in Austin in terms of transformation over the centuries making our system progressively more democratic, while retaining a republican form a government. A couple telling points were overlooked, I think. One is the Seventeenth Amendment, which actually changed our form of government by having members of the U.S. Senate elected by the people of the States, not by the state legislators. Today’s champions of “Republic, not Democracy” are advocating the repeal of that amendment, which seems to concede that it marks a transition that has taken place.
The other missed point concerns the Constitutional significance of the Civil War. Consider this 22-second clip of Lofton:
I’m guessing that by “Constitutional Wars,” Lofton means that Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are “unconstitutional wars” in the sense that they have been prosecuted in violation of the Constitution. But the Revolution and the Civil War are “Constitutional Wars” in the more profound sense that these are the wars that brought about fundamental developments in our National Constitution: the Revolution, in leading to our founding Constitution, and the Civil War, as leading to our “Second Constitution,” through the framing and ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The issues were profound enough to bring us to a very bloody war. The outcome was a revamping of our system, from which we emerged as a more democratic nation than we were under the Constitution of the Federalists.
In an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Dunbar is asked about whether there is any way that the actions by the SBOE on the Social Standards could be undone after the elections. She says “no,” that they are locked in place for the next ten years, and the next cycle of textbook adoptions. (You can see the interview below.)
Vodpod videos no longer available.
I am posting this article because I think that she is wrong. There’s a lot that needs doing, and that can be done, to undo the damage that she and her lame-duck colleagues have helped to bring about. I’ll continue working and writing about that. For now, I just want to call attention to the continuing thrum, thrum, thrumming of this discourse over channels that we don’t usually even know about, but which provide the only sources of information for people who can sometimes even get their candidates for Congress nominated in low-turnout primary elections.
Let’s all stay tuned …
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