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Republican lawmakers submit bill to require teaching of the “Christian foundations” of the United States

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Some Michigan legislators want to require history classes to teach lessons about the “Christian foundations” of the United States.

Introduced Thursday, House Bill 4672 would amend state law to require United States history and civics courses to teach "how the pilgrims emigrated because of persecution."

Teachers would also be required to explain to students how the Pilgrims “cultivated democratic forms of government and Christian ethics.”

Rep. Joseph Fox (R-Freemont) is the lead sponsor of the bill. Fox spent 25 years in Christian education as a teacher and principal.

Fox worries Christianity’s role in U.S. history is being “downsized” or “not taught.”

“That is something I would very much like to avoid,” said Fox, “is having things thrown down the memory-hole or left out of the picture.”

Tamara Shreiner is an Associate Professor of History/Social Studies Education and the director of the Michigan Council for History Education.

She says Michigan fifth graders already learn about economic, political, cultural, and religious causes of migration to colonial North America, making the legislation “redundant.”

Shreiner’s concerned the legislation would require teaching “grand, simplistic narratives,” which she describes as a disservice to Michigan students.

HB 4672 has been referred to the state House Education Committee.

Rep. Fox does not expect his legislation will move through the Democratic-controlled state legislature during this term. But he is hopeful its chances will improve if Republicans regain control the Michigan Legislature.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.