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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Teaching Kids to be Christian on the Public Dime

This has come up before. The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is a group that says it advocates using the Bible as a teaching tool in history and social studies. That wouldn't be an extremely controversial proposal -- most americans are christian, so studying the american people could include references to the Bible. Martin Luther King, jr., for example, referred to the book often. Wouldn't it be helpful to look at his references?

That's NCBCPS's argument, but the reality is that they want to use public tax dollars to teach kids to be christian. A lot of people aren't going to be too happy with that; something a Michigan School District is finding that out the hard way.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

A Michigan public school district is under pressure to provide a constitutionally suspect and factually flawed Bible course to its high school students.

The curriculum being pushed by a parent in Howell, Mich., is the product of a North Carolina-based group called the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. The Council was founded in 1993 and has peddled its curriculum relentlessly nationwide. Its Web site argues that public schools are failing students by not focusing their attentions on the Bible. “The Bible,” the Council maintains (inaccurately), “was the foundation and blueprint for our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, our educational system, and our entire history until the last 20 or 30 years.”

The Howell Board of Education is set to meet this evening to discuss the issue. Board members should withstand political pressure and reject the Council’s Bible course, which is suited for some Sunday school sessions, but not the public schools. In fact, in the late 1990s, a federal judge barred a Ft. Myers, Fla., school from using the curriculum. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich in Gibson v. Lee County concluded that the course improperly sought to teach New Testament stories, such as the resurrection of Jesus, as secular history.

Howell Board of Education members seem, ironically, ignorant of history. The Florida case was a fiasco for the board members who'd pushed the curriculum. The two members backing it found themselves out of a job by the time it was all over. The whole thing became a mix of anti-semitism, zealotry, and so-called 'christian' intolerance.

And no wonder. People For the American Way gives a rundown of NCBCPS's members and founders. It's a rogue's gallery of christian right jihadists. There's D. James Kennedy, who's called public schools 'godless' and has a history of hate speech toward lesbians and gays. Howard Phillips and Rus Walton are fun -- as christian reconstructionists, they advocate governing by biblical principles (i.e., theocracy), which would include a sort of christian version of Sharia law. Blasphemy, adultery, and juvenile delinquency would get you the death penalty. Sweet bunch of fellas.

NCBCPS President Elizabeth Ridenour admitted that the goal of her group was to proselytize in schools, telling a radio show interviewer, "We're just trying to expose the kids to the biblical Christian worldview..."

Other problems with the curriculum is that it just plain isn't true. It refers to the First Amendment separation of church and state as a 'myth.' It tells students that the Bible is "the most reliable source for history we have." Students are taught that the creation myth and the flood are "historical fact." An exam asks, "Why is it hard for a non-Christian to understand things about God?" and "What is Jesus Christ's relationship to God, to creation, and to you?" They're told "Who, according to Jesus, is the father of the jews? The devil" -- I won't even hazard a guess as to what misinterpreted verse that refers to.

In short, these people are bigoted, fanatical, and crazier than a cork anchor. Who in their right mind would look at all of this and think, "Yup, this is just fine for public tax dollars"? Here's hoping the Howell Board of Education isn't crazy enough to go for this. We shouldn't be teaching children that God wants them to hate.

Our public schools shouldn't become the christian answer to wahabiist madrasas.


UPDATE: Good news...

Americans United:

A Michigan school district yesterday evening decided to forgo a controversial Bible course authored by a Religious Right group.

At a public meeting, the Howell Public Schools Board of Education considered but did not vote on a Bible elective being pushed by a parent and Religious Right activists. Wendy Day, a Howell school board member, made a motion to adopt the Bible course, but couldn’t get a second from any of the board’s six other members.

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1 comment:

Jay said...

You wrote: They're told "Who, according to Jesus, is the father of the jews? The devil" -- I won't even hazard a guess as to what misinterpreted verse that refers to.

It's a (messed up, I'd say) interpretation of the latter half of the 8th chapter of John's Gospel, particularly verses 31-47.