Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bill would require Bible classes in Texas schools

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

A Texas legislator wants to require the state's nearly 1,700 public school districts to teach the Bible as a textbook, "not a worship document."

The House Public Education Committee was set late today to consider a bill by Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, mandating high schools to offer history and literacy courses on the Old and New Testaments. The courses would be elective.


A study by the liberal watchdog group Texas Freedom Network last year identified 25 high schools in the state already offering such courses and said that many have serious problems.

The proposed legislation puts school districts in legal jeopardy, said Kathy Miller, TFN's director, who was joined at a news conference by theologians and clergy members opposed to the bill.

"These courses are often more about the religious beliefs of the teachers rather than true academic studies of the importance of the Bible in history and literature," she said.

More here.

So, this is obviously an attempt by Jesus-Nazis to get some Christianity into the schools under some pseudo-intellectual cloaking. Kind of like the old "teach the controversy" gambit or "intelligent design" when it comes to getting tax payers to fund the religious indoctrination known as creationism. But you know what? I support the bill. The Good Book is so utterly intertwined with the history of Western civilization, it's fair to say that if you don't know the Bible, you don't know the West. Indeed, I'm very fortunate that I had some heavy Bible study when I was in my teens; I feel it's given me great insight when considering how fucked up our culture is.

What really excites me about this, however, is the whole "textbook" angle: public schools are going to have a hard time pulling this off. If this class is really going to be studying the Bible as literature, culture, and philosophy, that means criticism is going to be a huge part, or else it's all going to be a big joke, and therefore worthy of dozens of ACLU lawsuits. That means taking a look at not only contrarian positions, like those of Bertrand Russell and others, but also various sectarian understandings of the Bible, like Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Fundamentalist, Unitarian, and on and on. I just can't see how the schools aren't going to run full steam straight into a brick wall of controversy. Somebody's going to get pissed off and raise hell, no matter what.

My hope is that such controversy will provide a great deal of stimulus for a long overdue discussion of what, exactly, education is, and that, maybe, people are going to wake up to the fact that what we have now is far more about indoctrination than it is about learning. Yeah, I'm being optimistic, but even if there's no discussion about this, the controversy's going to be damned fun to watch.

Hee hee.