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Columnist Backs Off Criticism of Christian Textbook

A Dallas newspaper columnist apologized for comparing publishers of Christian-school textbooks to people that American soldiers are fighting in Iraq, calling his earlier comment “unnecessarily provocative.”

Steve Blow, a metro columnist in the Dallas Morning News and a self-described Southern Baptist, wrote in his March 5 column of being appalled by student workbooks that portray liberals as godless and conservatives as following the will of God.

After hearing from a concerned mom about politically charged lessons from Accelerated Christian Education, a Florida company that publishes Christian curriculum for church schools and home schools, Blow said he ordered sets of American and Texas history workbooks from ACE.

“The booklets are designed for individual, self-paced work,” Blow reported. “For the most part, they offer a straightforward, rather dry, dates-and-names approach to history.”

But there were “some definite quirks,” he said. The correct answer to a question about “the single most important event in American history” is the Great Awakening, a religious revival. The “most marked development in modern Texas,” according to the text, is “the growth of church schools.”

Explaining the re-election of Bill Clinton, the publisher says, “To some Americans, a healthy economy is more important than the moral fiber of their country.”

Jimmy Carter is described as someone who “claimed to be a Believer.”

The American history workbook claims “there is simply no true scientific support for the theory” of evolution, he said, and goes further by setting up a choice between evolution and God.

“Both cannot be right. Is it logical to trust Darwin or God? It is odd that whenever given the choice of accepting the Bible or some man-written book, the liberals always reject the Bible and accept the other book.”

Blow said private schools can teach anything they want, but he questioned “when does education become indoctrination?” and “when does it begin to affect us all?”

Blow said he tried to discuss educational philosophy with officials from ACE, but after they heard his questions, he got “a polite decline.”

“I’m sure they’re nice, well-intentioned folks and all that,” he concluded. “But a question comes to mind: If they teach that God is only on their side, how is that different from those we fight in Iraq?”

A week and a half later Blow said he regretted writing that final paragraph. “I think it was unnecessarily provocative,” he said.

“To be honest, I wrestled with that paragraph,” he confessed. “In hindsight, I wish I had wrestled a little longer.”

“One of the things that grieve me most these days is the nastiness that creeps into most every debate,” he said. “I’m afraid I added fuel to the fire.”

“I don’t know how we ended up so polarized, so angry and emotional over issues of the day. But I sure wish we could creep back toward civility and respect,” Blow continued. “We’ve got to resist this temptation to demonize those we disagree with. That’s how a teacher ends up comparing the president to Hitler. That’s how Pat Robertson comes to label Muslim extremists as ‘satanic.'”

Though he didn’t intend it, Blow said he feared the paragraph came off as equating Christian conservatives with murdering terrorists. In hindsight, he said he wished he had softened the paragraph to say, “If they teach that God is only on their side, isn’t that some of what we’re fighting in Iraq?”

“Maybe the difference is subtle, but the distinction is important,” he said. “I don’t want to demonize others. But I stand by my belief that portraying political opponents as godless is a dangerous road to go down.”

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.