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T imp TEXAS server SEPTEMBER 17, 1993 VOLUME 85, No. 18 FEATURES Tracking Resegregation By Carol Countryman 1-6 Dragon Slayers in Round Rock By Scott Henson 10 Tests Tax Students By Cynthia .Greenwood 12 DEPARTMENTS Editotials: School Battles; Judicial Redistricting; Newsroom Diversity; Death Watch 3-5 Molly Ivins 14 Books and the Culture Battleground Book review by Louis Dubose 15 All That Matters Book review by James Hoggard 17 The Color Line Revisited Book reviews by Chandler Davidson 18 Barton Springs Eternal . Book review by Robert Bryce 20 Afterword Looking for the Disappeared By Jennifer Harbury 22 Political Intelligence 24 Cover illustration by Michael Alexander in June of 1988, when Texas Republicans II convened in Houston, I arrived at the convention center early Sunday morning. Televangelist Pat Robertson controlled a third of the state delegation and it seemed that among his followers there was as much time given over to praying as there was to caucusing. When they did caucus, however, they worked and talked and debated with great intensity. But what I remember most was their passion, often expressed as old-fashioned intolerant Christian hatred. These people might have known themselves, but they didn’t love their enemies. At the top of their enemies list were abortionists and homosexuals, and considerable time was given over to speeches vilifying both groups. Because my editorial intern and I had followed this faction Since before the beginning of the conventidn, we decided to extend our coverage to the prayer breakfast, although we were no longer so naive as to expect a homily and a continental breakfast. Instead of a continental breakfast, we were handed a styrofoam cup of coffee and a doughnut and directed to the only open seats, on the east side of an auditorium where several thousand had gathered. A 17-piece band played a rocking hymn and the congregants were standing and swaying, eyes closed, arms extended. And there, dressed in a black-on-red polka dot dress, eyes closed, arms extended, was Reagan Cabinet member Eli7abeth Dole, who eloquently told of being saved. So instead of a homily, there was a personal testimonial. As the band played its recessional, my intern, a bright college student from San Antonio, said that when these people take over the country we will truly learn the meaning of intolerance. Adlai Stevenson had found “Saint Paul appealing and Saint Peale appalling”; this young woman found St. Elizabeth and her congregants disturbing. Two years later, when Pat Robertson’s political hurricane had pretty much played Republican Party convened in Fort Worth, the fundamental Christians had decided that their time had not yet arrived. There had to be a change in tactics, a more catecumenicatapproach. At the convention center, a middle-aged man wearing a CIA button \(Christians In Action of the Texas Grassroots faithful would quietly work their way into leadership positions. He was talking about seizing power within Christian churches. That same model has become the signature mark of the secular politics of the Religious Right, whose “stealth candidates,” studying the organizational manuals of Robert Simonds’ Citizens for Excellence in Education and Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition much, like left organizers read Saul Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals are winning school board elections. A sure sign that the Religious Right is organized in a community, Scott Henson writes on page 10 of this issue, is an increase in attempts to remove books from school libraries. This, of course, is a tradition as old as organized Christianity itself. By the time demographics converted Constantine and the catecumens had seized control of the machinery of state in the fourth century, most of the “heretical” texts the teachings of those followers of Christ who did not agree with the Church of Rome were either burned, or like the Gnostic Gospels unearthed in 1945 at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt, buried. The assault on texts that fundamental Christians deem unacceptable continues at an alarming rate, according to Attacks on the Freedom to Learn, People For the American Way’s 1992-93 report on censorship. Three hundred ninety-five attempts at censorship were documented by PFAW during the 92-93 school year. The five states with the highest cent of the time. The motives for censors today are not too different than they were in the third and fourth centuries: Religious objection was the most common motive in censorship challenges during the past school year. The most frequently challenged books last _ year include Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Katherine Paterson’s The Bridge to Terabithia, which my 12-year-old daughter tells me is a fine children’s novel. “Pumsy in Pursuit of Excellence” and “Developing Understanding of Self and Others,” two self-esteem programs, are also on the Top 10 list. In extreme cases, challenges extend to words, such as in Grand Saline, where parents requested that “ominous” and “shaman” be stricken from the district’s vocabulary lists. The objectors in Grand Saline, a group of parents and community members affiliated with the conservative Eagle Forum, are also defendants in a slander suit, after calling one teacher a “Devil worshipper” a “communist,” and the “antiChrist.” Censorship does not only occur in rural enclaves in Deep East Texas, though. In Irving, a school board member described a banned sex education program as “good bonfire material”; in College Station, Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is under attack but remains on the elementary school library shelf; and in Austin, Citizens for Excellence in Education, acting in concert with other Religious Right groups, blocked the adoption of a comprehensive sex and health education program for the district’s schools. And although most censorship attempts are organized by conservative groups, some assaults on the First Amendment come from the left, where works like Tom Sawyer, Sounder,’ LittleHouse on the Prairie and Of Mice and Men have come under attack. I never made it into the Christian Caucus’ smoke filled rooms at the 1988 Houston Convention. But I suspect that some strategist there was telling the faithful something like, “Don’t pray. Organize!” Those of us who value a secular society and a truly catholic education had better pursue that same course. L.D. EDITORIALS Beware the Schools THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3