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Teaching the Bible in Texas Classrooms

17.08.2009 (6:17 pm) – Filed under: Education,Religion ::

Sara Story of KLTA reports that a Texas state law that requires all public schools to offer “information relating to the Bible in their curriculum”.  The law was passed 2 years ago and is set to go into effect for the new school year.

For better or worse, some schools have stalled out when it comes to complying with the the law because it is vaguely worded and because the state has refused to provide funding to implement the mandate.

There is also the small matter of parental opposition to contend with as well, to no one’s surprise.  People in the town of Whitehouse, social studies teacher John Keeling looks at the matter this way:

The purpose of a course like this isn’t even really to get kids to believe it, per se, it is just to appreciate the profound impact that it has had on our history and on our government.

That impact is undeniable.  It is difficult to think of an institution that has done more to shape western culture than the Christian church.  Despite the church’s abuses of power and its internal divisions, life as we know it would not have come to exist in its absence.  In many respects the history of the church is the history of Europe and America.  It is important that children understand the underpinnings of their society – regardless of their own backgrounds and creeds – in order to, at a minimum, understand the context in which their world exists.

Given that formal transfer of knowledge in America is, for all intents and purposes, the sole domain of public schools, it therefore does make sense that these historical lessons be delivered by the school system. 

Nevertheless, I feel a vague sense of unease at the state forcing local districts to provide such courses.  It would have been a better idea to have simply opened the door for schools to offer such courses and left the actual decision up to local school boards.

I hesitate for two reasons.  First, who would be teaching the class?  There’s no shortage of qualified instructors.  I strongly suspect that every school in the state has several teachers already on staff who are able to lead such a class.  Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that these teachers would be the ones assigned to do the job.

Second, despite my personal Christian beliefs, it seems to me that this is simply an area in which state government should not involve itself.  Religious homogeneity or the lack of it is a local phenomena.  It therefore seems to make sense to leave to decision to those best able to determine whether such courses would be appreciated. 

Furthermore, the state should, if it feels compelled to mandate additions to the local district’s workload, provide the funding needed to comply with those mandates.  Either that or stay out of the business of micro-managing local schools.  Whenever possibly, it seems wisest to choose the latter option.

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