Bible Classes in Texas Labeled as 'Unconstitutional' After Controversial Study

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By Myles Collier, Christian Post Contributor
June 4, 2013|11:25 am

A Bible study class that is offered at a Texas high school was deemed unconstitutional after a previous study suggested the course promoted one religion over another.

The class in question was offered at Sonora High in Sonora, Texas, and that particular class was highlighted in a study that was published in January by Mark Chancey, a religious studies professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

He claimed that the class in question was an example of how Texas schools provided unconstitutional Bible instruction supposedly violating the First Amendment by endorsing one religion over another.

"These classes too often promote religious values that aren't appropriate academically," Chancey previously said of the study. "Public funds are being used to promote some religious views over others."

The class in question is a Bible study course that is an elective at the school and currently has four students enrolled. The instructor, Clyde Dukes, has been a preacher at a local church for more than 30 years.

Texas passed a law in 2007 that required high schools to include a portion of educational time regarding the influence of the Bible and other religious literature. Chancy, however, maintains that the course offered at Sonora High suggests how students can apply the Bible to their lives while excluding discussion regarding other religions.

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Guidelines for House Bill 1287, state that Bible elective courses may be made available in public schools insofar as they offer an objective look regarding religion, while also being primarily focused on the Bible's cultural and historical influence.

There have been some objections to the guidelines of the course that mainly deal with providing effective training for staff and also developing a state wide rubric showing how school districts should approach the subject of teaching religion in schools.

There are 60 school districts in the state that offer standalone Bible courses and Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at Washington's Newseum, stated that those guidelines have yet to be implemented leading to inconsistent teaching within those courses throughout the state, as reported by Bloomberg News.

But some feel that the general hostility towards Christians is what is driving this issue and what originally spurred the study.

Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, a watchdog group for biblical, Judeo-Christian values and religious freedom in Texas, told Fox News Austin that he believes the results of the study were skewed due to liberal bias, and that the law allowing for Bible classes is being used correctly.

"The law is very clear in how you are supposed to teach these things, the Supreme Court has even said its constitutional to do it, but you have to look at this complaint from this left wing group from the lens of the bias that they already bring to this issue, they're very hostile to people of religious beliefs particularly Christianity so it's no surprise that they will be hostile to anything related to the Bible in public schools," Saenz said of the study.

 

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