In Texas, Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment lose to Thomas Aquinas!

Last week the Texas Freedom Network live blogged the Texas State Board of Education and bore witness to Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment going right down Orwell’s memory hole:

9:27 – The board is taking up remaining amendments on the high school world history course.

9:30 – Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with “the writings of”) and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson’s ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don’t buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar’s problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.

9:40 – We’re just picking ourselves up off the floor.

And so am I. Unbelievable. Thomas Aquinas over Thomas Jefferson?

I mean, seriously.

thomas jefferson

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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6 Responses to In Texas, Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment lose to Thomas Aquinas!

  1. Boy. It seems you have more serious, and urgent problems to deal with than the damn “New” Atheists.
    Focus Santi. Focus.
    🙂 (smiling to avoid crying as we used to say here down south)

  2. santitafarella says:


    Alas, I agree.


  3. Gunlord says:

    You know, reading this, beyond everything else I have to wonder what the Catholics make of it all. Wikipedia may be lying to me (as it does more often than not) but I’m pretty sure Texas has a very sizable Catholic population. How in God’s name would all those Catholics take well to having John Calvin listed as an ‘influence’ on the American Revolution? I can see them being happy about Aquinas, but Calvin? Jeez.

    That said, about the “New Atheists,” if I was one of those guys, I’d spend more time writing letters to politicians in Texas than I would, say, killing crackers and posting pictures of my trash on the Internet, as I believe Santi can attest. 😉

  4. Why does it have to be and/or? Surely they can fit a little of Aquinas in without dropping Jefferson. Jefferson is of less interest outside the US, but is still notable and given this is a US state we’re talking about it’s rather strange.

  5. Pingback: Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University students visit a science museum with their young earth creationist professors « Prometheus Unbound

  6. santitafarella says:


    That’s a funny thought: John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas: the true founders of the American idea and nation!

    And Noah’s flood deposited the dinosaurs (some with human saddles on their backs) 6000 years ago.

    Oh, and just for kicks: the first humans came, not out of Africa, but out of a garden in Mesopotamia.

    And lets have a federally funded expedition to the mountains of Turkey to search for Noah’s ark.

    I mean, if we’re going to reject the judgment of expert scientists and historians, let’s just go for it!


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