Religion Being Taught In Texas SchoolsBy Jobsanger
Other representatives tried to make the bill a little better before it became law. They said the class should be on the Bible as literature (and not a religious class promoting christianity). They also made the class voluntary, and said the State Board of Education should pass some strict guidelines on how the class would be taught, and said teachers should be trained on how to teach the class. If that was what happened, it might not have been so bad (although I still opposed the bill at that time because I suspected that those intentions, that it would be taught as literature, would not be carried out).
Now it looks like I was right all along. The Bible class in many of Texas' high schools is being taught as a religion class (promoting christianity above other religions), and there is little or no oversight on how the classes are being taught. That is because the legislature refused to provide any funds for the training of those teaching the class, and the fundamentalist-leaning State Board of Education refused to pass any strict guidelines on how the class should be taught. The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund recently did a survey on these Bible classes in Texas high schools, and what they found was pretty shocking (except for those of us who expected this to be the result of that bad law). Here is some of what they found:
- Instructional material in two school districts teach that racial diversity today can be traced back to Noah’s sons, a long-discredited claim that has been a foundational component of some forms of racism.
- Religious bias is common, with most courses taught from a Protestant — often a conservative Protestant — perspective. One course, for example, assumes Christians will at some point be “raptured.” Materials include a Venn diagram showing the pros and cons of theories that posit the rapture before the returning Jesus’ 1,000-year reign and those that place it afterward. In many courses, the perspectives of Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews are often left out.
- Anti-Jewish bias — intentional or not — is not uncommon. Some courses even portray Judaism as a flawed and incomplete religion that has been replaced by Christianity.
- Many courses suggest or openly claim that the Bible is literally true. “The Bible is the written word of God,” students are told in one PowerPoint presentation. Some courses go so far as to suggest that the Bible can be used to verify events in history. One district, for example, teaches students that the Bible’s historical claims are largely beyond question by listing biblical events side by side with historical developments from around the globe.
- Course materials in numerous classes are designed to evangelize rather than provide an objective study of the Bible’s influence. A book in one district makes its purpose clear in the preface: “May this study be of value to you. May you fully come to believe that ‘Jesus is the Christ, the son of God.’ And may you have ‘life in His name.’”
- A number of courses teach students that the Bible proves Earth is just 6,000 years old.
- Students are taught that the United States is a Christian nation founded on the Christian biblical principles taught in their classrooms.
- Academic rigor is so poor that many courses rely mostly on memorization of Bible verses and factoids from Bible stories rather than teaching students how to analyze what they are studying. One district relies heavily on Bible cartoons from Hanna-Barbera for its high school class. Students in another district spend two days watching what lesson plans describe a “the historic documentary Ancient Aliens,” which presents “a new interpretation of angelic beings described as extraterrestrials.”
Something needs to be done about this. The classes should be outlawed, or at the very least it should be mandated that these not be religion classes. The classes as they are being taught are a clear violation of the United States Constitution -- because it is a government entity (the public school) that is teaching a class that promotes the christian religion above all other religions. That amounts to making christianity a state-sponsored religion.
And making matters even worse, this teaching of christianity in the public schools is being done with tax dollars that come from people who do not accept or believe in the christian religion (both those who follow other religions and those who don't believe in religion at all). This is just wrong. I have no problem with christianity being taught in the church or the home, but it should never be taught in our public schools -- and tax dollars should never be involved in the teaching of any religion.
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