The nonprofit Americans United for Separation of Church and State is calling out one of the oldest public charter schools in Arizona for using two books from crank and Glenn Beck favorite Cleon Skousen that promote racism and a Christian nationalist interpretation of American history, reports the Arizona Republic.
The school, Heritage Academy, is apparently using two of Skousen's most popular books, "The 5,000 Year Leap" and "The Making of America," in an attempt to educate its student body of the ways in which America was actually founded by hardcore Jerry Falwell-style Christian conservatives.
This is not the same thing as trying to indoctrinate children, however, claims Earl Taylor, the school's founder and principal. "Our purpose is not to convert students to different religious views," Taylor promised. "It is to show them that religion influenced what the Founders did.”
Worse still, some parts of the Skousen books being given to Heritage Academy's students — and presented as textbooks, rather than historical documents — also depict American slavery in a racist and risibly sympathetic light.
According to legal scholar Garret Epps, “parts of [Skousen's] major textbook ... present a systematically racist view of the Civil War" with a “long description of slavery in the book" arguing that slavery was "beneficial to African-Americans and that Southern racism was caused by the ‘intrusion’ of Northern abolitionists and advocates of equality for the freed slaves."
In one of the books, Skousen approvingly includes an essay in which the author argues that "if [African-American children] ran naked it was generally from choice, and when the white boys had to put on shoes and go away to school they were likely to envy the freedom of their colored playmates."
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is calling on Taylor to drop both books from the school's curriculum. He has thus far refused.