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Monday, September 18, 2006

Your Tax Dollars at Work -- Teaching Students to be Christians

I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!

--Jerry Falwell

I suppose Falwell would say that turning public schools into christian institutions would be almost as good. And some headway is being made in that direction. On the 13th, The Houston Chronicle reported that a move to use the Bible as a study tool has become what every critic said it would be -- a way to indoctrinate children on the public dime.

Public school students don't need to go to church on Sunday for a strong dose of religion — in some cases, according to a new study, they merely show up for class.

A yearlong investigation by the Austin-based Texas Freedom Network found that the majority of Bible courses offered as electives in the state's high schools are devotional and sectarian in nature and not academic, as required by a host of rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court on down.

"With a few notable exceptions," the study, titled 'Reading, Writing and Religion,' states, "The public school courses currently taught in Texas often fail to meet minimal academic standards for teacher qualifications; curriculum, and academic rigor; promote one faith perspective over all others; and push an ideological agenda that is hostile to religious freedom, science and public education."

Some of the findings of the study:

--The vast majority of Texas Bible courses, despite their titles, do not teach about the Bible in a historical or literary context, as required under state law. Instead, the electives tend to be explicitly devotional in nature and reflect an almost exclusively Christian (usually Protestant) perspective.
--The Bible is often presented as being divinely inspired and biblical stories treated as literal history.
--Most Bible courses in Texas are taught by teachers who have no academic training in biblical, religious or theological studies and, it appears, little familiarity with separation of church-state issues. Some districts bring in local clergy to teach their Bible courses and fund them with private money.

This isn't a new problem. In 1997 the Lee County School District in Florida began offering elective "Bible history" courses to high school students. People For the American Way reported that, " of the Bible Curriculum Committee members characterized those on the Committee who he felt were not enthusiastic supporters of the course as 'Jews ... and others who you wondered if they had any religion at all.'"

Kind of gives you a feel for what kind of wonderful loving christians we're talking about here, doesn't it?

"He was also quoted as saying 'they should appoint Christians to review a Christian curriculum. I wondered from the very beginning why Jews and others, I don't know what they were, were on the committee,'" PFAW reported. Finally, the Committee adopted a curriculum based on that developed by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS), a religious right group [for info on these guys, click here].

The course turned out to be pretty much what you'd expect. A PFAW study of Florida schools found 'the courses are framed and taught from Christian perspectives,' 'the Bible is used as a history textbook [i.e., literally true],' and 'students are assumed to be Christian and the Bible is taught accordingly.'

Some test questions from across the state:

"If you had a Jewish friend who wanted to know if Jesus might be the expectant [sic] Messiah, which book [of the Gospels] would you give him?"

"Compose an explanation of who Jesus is for someone who has never heard of Him."

"Why is it hard for a non-Christian to understand things about God?"

"What is Jesus Christ's relationship to God, to creation, and to you?"

And, my favorite, from a lesson taught at Levy County on John 8, "Who, according to Jesus, is the father of the Jews? The devil."

To refer back to the Chronicle article, Bible courses that 'are devotional and sectarian in nature and not academic' have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States on several occasions.

You see what happened in 1962. They took prayer out of the schools. The next year the Supreme Court ordered Bible reading taken from the schools. And then progressing, liberals, most of them atheistic educators, have pushed to remove all religion from the lives of children...The people who wrote the "Humanist Manifesto" and their pupils and their disciples are in charge of education in America today.

--Pat Robertson

Looks like you guys are working hard (and illegally) to change that, Pat. And you're getting people who don't believe to pay for it.

That's pretty damned close to theft.


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1 comment:

Ban_Hypocrisy said...

So what's the big deal? Orthodox Jews have taken over a school board in Long Island. Muslims are influencing curricula all over California. So what if Christians are making their mark in Texas?

Who says any of them is wrong? Whoever says it is wrong is also using his own morality to assert his own claim of moral superiority, and that's no different than another religion. So what?