Ohio Board Of Education Member Calls For Religious Takeover Of Education

Mark Smith, Ohio Board of Education member, with Ralph Reed (from the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Flickr feed)
Mark Smith, Ohio Board of Education member, with Ralph Reed (from the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Flickr feed)

A member of the Ohio Board of Education made a breathtaking clarion call at this weekend’s Road to Majority Conference, sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition. He openly called for his fellow fundamentalists to take over our schools.

Mark Smith is the president of Ohio Christian University, a small holiness-affiliated school south of the state capital of Columbus. Last year, he was appointed to the state board of education by Governor John Kasich. He’s also a religious right activist; he is president of the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Ohio chapter. On Friday night, Smith outlined his blueprint for using the school system to restore “faith values in America”–a speech that could have easily be given by David Barton.


As Smith sees it, this country went off the rails when it tried to “deny the source of truth”–the Bible. He claimed, as Barton has on numerous occasions, that “truth concepts like liberty, freedom, personal responsibility, law, justice, and hope” came directly from the Bible, and that all of our country’s doctrines and documents are based on “biblical truth.” He sees the desire for equality as another problem, since “equality and liberty are diametrically opposed.”

So what’s Smith’s solution? He wants his compatriots to make a concerted effort to take over their local school systems.

“I call on us to stand and to bring about change in a failed educational system that opposes freedom, capitalism, and personal responsibility, and that wastes billions of dollars on experiments on our children. It’s fine for us to take back our school system, and every one of you should be running for school boards, getting involved in the Department of Education, in the state board of education ? and you should take it back as Faith and Freedom members, that is the hope for America.”

Sound familiar? Back in the 1980s and 1990s, we saw a wave of religious-right activists elbow their way onto local school boards. Under their influence, school boards across the country began pushing such religious right shibboleths as “intelligent design” and the idea that America is a Christian nation. So how did that turn out? Well, as I mentioned in May, the religious right is losing the battle for the young–badly.


Back in the 1990s, Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed infamously said, “I want to be invisible. I want to do guerrilla warfare.” Reed is now the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Although he bills it as a 21st-century version of the Christian Coalition, there’s one big difference between what he’s doing now and what he did then–he isn’t even trying to hide his extremism anymore.

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Edited/Published by JA

Darrell Lucus.jpg Darrell Lucus is a radical-lefty Jesus-lover who has been blogging for change for a decade. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.