Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bible Class in Texas High School 

The school board of Odessa, Texas has approved a Bible class for inclusion in the high school curriculum, to begin next fall (2006).

Supporters of the class frame it as a "history or literature" course, and will use the Bible to teach about middle eastern geography, art appreciation, and other ways in which bibilical teachings have influenced "history and culture." The course would be based on courses designed by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. The course, and others like it, is opposed by People for the American Way and the ACLU.

I took a look at the NCBCPS (that's quite a mouthful of consonants) website, and I hope their curriculum is better designed than their introductory letter. It looks to me like they took the topic headings from the outline of their talking points and simply strung them together along with a "Dear Friend" salutation, and an overly dramatic call to use their program because:
"The world is watching to see if we will be motivated to impact our culture, to deal with the moral crises in our society, and reclaim our families and children."

The world may be watching, but to see if we are going to turn our backs on our long-proclaimed principle of not using government to either inhibit OR endorse any particular religion. If their program is not intended to impart Christian teachings (as they specifically state), then how will this class on literature, history and geography teach children to "deal with the moral crises in our society," and what exactly is currently holding our families and children hostage?

Their discussions of their program describe an effort to impart Christian teachings in the school system. They quote Supreme Court Justice Clark to justify their approach:
It might be well said that one's education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literacy and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.
But the curriculum they describe isn't comparative religion or history of religion. It's religious teaching in disguise. If they feel that not enough people are going to church to learn the tenets of Christianity as this group interprets them, then work on getting more people into the pews, not on moving the pews into the public schools and engaging in religious outreach on the dime of the entire community.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:57 PM