Center for Inquiry Raises Concerns over Civics Textbook

For Immediate Release: April 8, 2008
Contact: Thomas Donnelly, Communications - (207) 358-9785

(Amherst, New York) –The Center for Inquiry (CFI), an international think tank promoting science and secularism,  released a 25-page report today detailing what it calls “egregious errors” sufficient enough to warrant “immediate correction,” in a widely used civics textbook found in many secondary schools around the country, including advanced placement courses. CFI believes that the textbook American Government: Institutions and Policies, 10th edition, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006) contains inaccurate and misleading statements, in particular in its analysis of global warming and certain constitutional law issues. In response, CFI’s legal experts have analyzed the textbook and prepared a critique that sets forth recommended changes.  

Derek Araujo, a lawyer and executive director for CFI’s New York office, spearheaded the textbook review project. Araujo stated that he was “surprised and dismayed that a textbook used in advanced placement courses would contain clearly erroneous statements about significant issues, such as global warming and school prayer.” Araujo recruited leading scientists, including Stuart D. Jordan from NASA, to provide their assessment of the book’s treatment of global warming.

CFI’s critique focuses on six areas: the science of global warming; the legality of school prayer; the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas; the alleged influence of the religious concept of “original sin” on the structure of the Constitution; the meaning of the Establishment Clause; and the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear a case (what lawyers refer to as the denial of a writ of certiorari).

Ronald A. Lindsay, CFI’s general counsel, characterized the errors as “significant and inexcusable. For a civics textbook to state—as this book does—that the Supreme Court will not allow students to pray in schools betrays either a serious misunderstanding of the law or a willingness to have the textbook serve as a propaganda vehicle for the Religious Right.”

CFI maintains that it is very important for civics students to obtain accurate information about our Constitution, our legal system and public policy issues, and that instructional material should be objective and free of ideological bias.

The textbook critique was researched and written by Araujo, Lindsay, and Jordan. A downloadable PDF copy of the full report is available below.

The Center for Inquiry is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization, comprising the Council for Secular Humanism, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), and the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER). Headquartered in Amherst, New York, the Center for Inquiry strives to promote rational thinking in all aspects of life. The organization’s Web site can be found at .  

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at