Back in March we posted a story about Kelly Kohls, head of the Warren County Tea Party and President of the Springboro School Board, who was bringing her own brand of Tea Party crazy to the small town of Springboro, Ohio. You’ll be sad to hear that things have gotten much, much worse since we last checked in.
Quick recap: Kohls is the one who helped initiate the politically motivated investigation of a school superintendent in a neighboring district. She preaches fiscal responsibility, rails against school levies and overpaid teachers, all while personally declaring bankruptcy with debts nearing $1 million dollars. (because – yay! – personal responsibility)
Since we posted that story back in March, Kohls has been making news for pushing a plan to introduce Creationism into the curriculum at Springboro schools.
And this week we found out the school system is planning to offer summer courses on the US Constitution organized by a guy with ties to a white supremacist group.
In an email sent on June 24, 2013, families of Springboro School children were invited to “attend the highly acclaimed Constitution Course presented by the Institute On The Constitution,” a group founded by Michael Peroutka , a former Constitution Party presidential candidate who the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) called an “active white supremacist and secessionist sympathizer.”
“Peroutka is an active member of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate, secessionist organization labeled an ‘explicitly racist’ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)”, says HRC.
But it gets worse.
The flyer advertising the course invites attendees to learn about their “Godly American heritage and birthright” and how to use “the founding documents” to “restore and retain your freedoms.”
The class is clearly not a typical American history lesson, but instead an express trip on the Christian revisionist crazy train, and the choice of instructors confirms this suspicion: John Eidsmoe and David Barton, two Christian Nationalists who believe the US was founded by Christians for Christians and should be that way again, will be leading the discussion.
The Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi described Eidsmoe as “a crackpot Christian extremist professor” who is “a frequent contributor to John Birch Society publications” and “once opined that he could imagine Jesus carrying an M16.”
Right Wing Watch identifies Eidsmoe as a “Christian Reconstructionist” who is “cited by Michele Bachmann as her mentor and major influence” and also the author of a book about Christopher Columbus that describes “the discovery, exploration and settlement of the Western Hemisphere” as “the unfolding of God’s plan for the human race.”
In 2010 Eidsmoe told a crowd of fellow conservatives that “that it was Alabama’s ’constitutional right to secede,’ and that ‘Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood the Constitution better than did Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster.’”
David Barton is the author of books like “The Myth of Separation”, in which he argues that the separation of church and state is “inaccurate myth” and “Christians were the ones who were intended to hold public office and that Jews and members of other sects were not.”
He also serves on the Board of Advisors of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools and the Providence Foundation, described by The Nation as “a group that promotes the idea that biblical law should be instituted in America.”
According to the New York Times, Barton’s latest book,”The Jefferson Lies”, was voted “the least credible history book in print” by readers of the History News Network. A month later the publisher stopped distributing the book after Christian conservative scholars challenged the “facts” presented in the book. The same set of Christian scholars admits Barton’s books and videos contain “embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims.”
Barton has a BA in religious education from Oral Roberts University but otherwise has no formal education experience in History or in the US Constitution.
Last year Ohio’s GOP-led General Assembly passed a law requiring schools to teach the “founding documents”. Is this the type of course we’re going to find schools implementing in response to that new law? Courses developed by a group with ties to white supremacists? Course materials developed by men who believe Christian law should be implemented in the US and who actively and aggressively promote revisionist “history” that even Christian conservative scholars call “highly misleading”?
With Kasich’s hand-picked, Hitler misquoting, Tea Party favorite Debe Terhar leading the Ohio State Board of Education, and people like Kohls in charge of their local school boards, that becomes a very real – and very dangerous possibility.