Education to Form a More Perfect Union

Education to Form a More Perfect Union

Education to Form a More Perfect Union

September 18, 2020

Perhaps the only silver lining to public schools going virtual out of an irrational fear of the coronavirus is that many parents are finally taking a closer look at what their children are learning. And it's not pretty. Mary Hasson, an attorney, education expert, and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said in an interview on Washington Watch that parents "are realizing their kids have embraced this view of America as a toxic country, a place that's 'fundamentally unjust.'"

Materials that supplement curricula are coming "almost exclusively from progressive organizations." The Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance, Planned Parenthood's radical sex education, and the 1619 project -- that's what kids are being taught in classrooms and much of it paid for by taxpayers. At the same time, children are not learning American history.

As usual, President Trump has not been afraid to meet the political correctness of the Left head-on. He announced plans to establish "a national commission to promote patriotic education" called "the 1776 Commission." This new initiative, which will be placed in the Department of Education, comes not a moment too soon.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos joined me on Washington Watch yesterday to discuss the announcement. "Too many young people today have very little knowledge or understanding of history, and of how their government is constructed, and what the original Founders had in mind," she said. The National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed only 15 percent of middle schoolers have a reasonable knowledge of U.S. history, while one in four have below a basic understanding.

The effort to drive a wedge between children and the beliefs of their parents has been nearly a decade in the making, according to Hasson, at least in conservative areas of the country. A third of college freshmen are atheist, agnostic, or profess no religious belief, and 40 percent say they plan to join protests and demonstrations.

Secretary DeVos said we're seeing "the downstream implications of that ignorance [of U.S. history] in some of our major cities across the country today." Indeed, what started as protests against police brutality and racial discrimination have quickly devolved into riots aimed at destroying American history. This summer, often violent protests have targeted President Abraham Lincoln, President Ulysses Grant, and both black and white abolitionists, not to mention George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Historical monuments help us remember our history -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Secretary DeVos continued, "we have to learn from history so that we learn what not to do and what to do in the future." It goes both ways.

The Trump administration's 1776 project will aim to teach schoolchildren about the values that actually inspired our founding. The Declaration of Independence talks about inalienable rights given by God. The Constitution outlines a system of limited government and separated powers designed to protect against the vices of human nature. This is really what America is all about. Secretary DeVos added that our "more perfect union" is a goal to strive for. The phrase itself "indicates a progression," she said. "It's a process, not an event."

The good news is, after years of progressive dominance over education, President Trump is seeking to move the needle back towards sanity. "We're going to see a lot more attention paid to really preparing the next generation in a way that we've neglected for too long," said Secretary DeVos. There's no cause more worthwhile than teaching the next generation about our -- and their -- history.

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Pentagon Cleans Up Its Religious Liberty Act

September 18, 2020

This week, in a strong show of support for religious liberty, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) issued new guidance protecting military service members from being punished for expressing their religious views. Following an executive order President Trump signed his first year in office, the DOD's announcement on its update of DOD Instruction 1300.17 (which contains the guidance) is very good news. In addition to setting forth a robust standard for religious liberty in the military, the updated guidance forbids service members from requiring chaplains to "perform any rite, ritual, or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain..."

Yesterday on the Washington Watch, Representative Jim Banks from the 3rd District of Indiana joined Tony to discuss what the DOD's guidance will mean for religious freedom in the military. Banks, who served during the Afghan War and remains a member of the House Armed Services Committee, praised the new guidance as "fundamental."

Referencing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the federal statute sets forth a high bar for the government to meet if it wants to infringe on religious liberty, and the guidance also provides protections for those seeking accommodations from the military to exercise their religious freedom. In addition, the guidance clarifies that "you can't violate the religious freedom of a chaplain," as Banks summarized for listeners.

Banks voiced what many people probably are thinking in reaction to this -- it seems crazy that something so clearly protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution would have to be stated explicitly in policy. But Banks continued with the stories of multiple military chaplains who have been punished for expressing their religious beliefs through mediums as innocuous as Facebook posts and book recommendations, proving the necessity of the DOD's guidance and the executive order which preceded it.

Banks applauded President Trump specifically for his administration's track record on religious liberty.

"It's important, and it's one of the reasons that many of us supported this president to begin with," Banks told Tony. "He's kept his word and fought to protect the religious freedom of not just every American, but in this case of our service members."

Mike Berry, General Counsel for First Liberty Institute, who worked hard to ensure this new guidance protected religious freedom in the military, shared Banks' sentiments in a statement he made on the DOD's new guidance.

"We still have a lot of work to do, but this new guidance is a huge step in the right direction for America's brave service members, for whom faith is an essential element of their life and duty," he said. "Since the days of the Revolutionary War, religious freedom has been a force multiplier for our military. We applaud our commander-in-chief, President Trump, and Secretary Esper for ensuring that religious liberty is alive and well in our armed forces."

Our own executive vice president, retired Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin, who has served our nation as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and has worked tirelessly to restore religious freedom in the military was equally supportive:

"The recently-updated religious freedom guidance from the Pentagon is a welcome development both for our military and the cause of religious freedom. Thanks to President Trump's prioritization of this issue, we are finally seeing protections for religious freedom in our military clearly outlined in DOD policy -- as they should be. Those fighting to protect our Constitution and way of life must absolutely be able to exercise the same rights they are fighting to protect for the rest of us. This is crucial both to our freedom as individuals and our nation's future."

As Rep. Banks urged listeners on Washington Watch, we should not underestimate the significance of this policy. And as a former member of the military, he knows what he's talking about.

"I can tell you from my own personal experience serving in Afghanistan, the role of our chaplains is important," he told Tony. "It matters."

Despite the pushback the Trump administration has received from the Department of Defense, which retains many holdovers from the Obama administration, this new guidance indicates that the DOD may be heading in the right direction. Banks hopes that four more years with President Trump as commander-in-chief will bring further victories for religious liberty, which is why he considers Trump "the best president of my lifetime."

An Unprecedented Summit in Unprecedented Times

September 18, 2020

Our nation is enduring a time of great crisis. The direction our country is headed hangs in the balance as the November elections approach. As believers, voting our values has never been more critical.

With unprecedented times comes an unprecedented 15th annual Values Voter Summit. For the first time ever, VVS will be held entirely virtual. For four consecutive nights beginning September 22 and ending September 25, the Summit will be held from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ET. Anyone can view VVS for free by registering for a digital pass.

In his 2016 VVS speech, Vice President Mike Pence described the Summit as "the greatest gathering of conservative pro-family Americans in the nation." This year's speaker lineup only bolsters this statement. President Donald Trump headlines an array of elected leaders that will include Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Jody Hice, Rep. Mike Johnson, House Whip Steve Scalise, Rep. Ann Wagner, and Rep. Mark Walker along with administration officials like Secretary Mike Pompeo and USAID Administrator John Barsa.

Other featured speakers include FRC Board Chair Michele Bachmann and Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell along with Abby Johnson, Eric Metaxas, Gary Bauer, Dr. Albert Mohler, Benjamin Watson, James Robison, Scott Rasmussen, Andrew Wommack, Tim Wildmon, Melissa Ohden, and more.

Praying for our nation, voting for our values, and standing for our freedoms has never been more important. Register now and be a part of the 2020 Values Voter Summit.

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.