On 20 May 2010, the Texas Board of Education approved new standards for the history, social sciences and economics curricula in public schools. The sharply-divided Board split on party lines to approve changes which play down the separation of church and state and remove its great advocate Thomas Jefferson from a list of political philosophers to be studied (replacing him with 16th century French theologian John Calvin, who taught that civil government is divinely ordained). The new standards remove reference to the Enlightenment, specify the dating system of BC/AD (Before Christ / Anno Domini) rather than the now more widely-used BCE/CE (Before the Common Era / Common Era), and replace descriptions of America as a ‘democratic society’ with ‘constitutional republic’. They also suggest that the McCarthyist witch hunts were justified, downplay the civil rights movement and add study of the Moral Majority, National Rifle Association, Heritage Foundation and Contract with America.
If the departure of former President George W. Bush was expected to signal an end to religious right influence in the American public sphere, these changes give pause for thought.