July 22, 2008

Bible Classes Ok'd in Texas Public High Schools

Uh-oh, get ready to ramp up the religious persecution and name-calling from all sides of the pew, the Texas State Board of Education gave final approval on Friday to establishing Bible classes in public high schools, "rejecting calls to draw specific teaching guidelines and warnings that it could lead to constitutional problems in the classroom."

These classes will be taught as electives (3% of schools districts offered Bible courses during the 05-06 school year according to the Texas Freedom Network) and the guidelines simply require that there will be religious neutrality and will not endorse or disfavor one religion. This of course is a very broad definition of what is and isn't allowed, leaving the door open to prejudice problems. Ed Brayton, on his trip to Netroots Nation in Austin, says he found at least one school in Texas which "has a Bible course that teaches Hamitic racism." For those of us outside the know, this is the claim that Ham was cursed by Noah and that the descendants of Ham (read: all black people) are therefore intended by God to be slaves. Technically I don't think that breaks the guidelines of promoting one religion over another, but it definitely promotes something that was supposed to be erased from our public education long ago, racism (and in the name of religion, wow these guys must have missed the "do unto others" talk in that big ol' book).

Get ready for the lawsuits to start flying. The ACLU is going to have a field day taking some naive teachers and school districts to court, and as I detailed in my posts last week concerning Louisiana's dip into the religious public education swamp someone is going to have to pay for these lawsuits. That someone will the be the taxpaying citizens of that school district, so I think it would be in the best interest of those who pay taxes to fund education to demand that strict guidelines detailing what is and is not allowed by law.

Here's one of my favorite quotes on the whole situation by Jonathan Saenz, a spokesman for the Free Market Foundation (via the Daily Texan). "It's important to remember that there's no way to guarantee that anything anyone does in a school will be constitutional...The other side is almost demanding some assurance and guarantee that nothing will happen that will be unconstitutional, and that's impossible."

You make a good point Jonathan, let's just throw out the guidelines on lethal force by police officers because it would be impossible to guarantee an officer won't cross the line into unauthorized force. What a childish argument, and one that leaves the burden of defining constitutionality with the courts, courts that cost a lot of money and will bleed dry the already suffering bank account of our state's education system.

Taken in concert with the shady practice of 11th-hour changes to the English curricula guidelines, severing ties to the National Association of State School Boards, and the upcoming vote to allow intelligent design into our state's classrooms and you have a good picture of how this state board operates. The driving motives behind these people are not the education that the students will receive or how to better prepare them for life outside of the home shelter, but simply injecting their dogmas into each and every subject they can.

Go forth and spread the good news, plant the seed and it will flourish, become fishers of men, speak to all nations of the world. Those are all from the Bible about spreading the word and works of christianity (as written by the creator himself, if you like) and nowhere does it say invade the politics and enslave the people to your beliefs. Get ready for it because it is coming.

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