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Willamette Law Professor Weighs in on Social Studies Curriculum

Willamette Law Professor Steven K. Green flew to Texas last week to provide his expertise on a contentious education issue: the role of Christianity in American history classes.

Green, a national expert on church and state issues, testified before the Texas State Board of Education on behalf of the Texas Freedom Network. The board was considering a new social studies curriculum that included proposals to emphasize the religious influences on the nation's founding principles.

Multiple newspapers and blogs quoted Green, who also directs Willamette's Center for Religion, Law and Democracy. He argued that the curriculum proposals were "inaccurate and unwarranted."

"I fully support exposing children to the religious influences of our nation's history. Religion has played a very important ideological and institutional role in the nation's government," Green testified. "However, there is a crucial pedagogical and legal difference between the academic study of our religious past and exposure of children to misleading religious truth claims, particularly if they're for the purpose of instilling religious devotion."

The new standards would dictate what Texas K-12 students learn in class and could affect textbooks used by schools nationwide. The Board of Education delayed its decision on the curriculum until May.

Read more about Green's testimony in The Christian Post. Green also was quoted by the Baptist Standard and in a blog by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

01-20-2010