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Some Texas Public Schools' Bible Courses Are Biased, Study Finds

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  • An empty classroom is seen in this undated file photo.
    (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
    An empty classroom is seen in this undated file photo.
By Katherine Weber, Christian Post Reporter
January 17, 2013|4:48 pm

A recent study released by an education watchdog group has found that there is fault with the way Bible classes are taught in Texas, with many schools showing favoritism toward Protestantism over Roman Catholicism and other faiths.

Mark Chancey, a professor of Religious Studies at Dallas-based Southern Methodist University, conducted the study, released Wednesday, in accordance with the Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog group which monitors religious liberties as well as the public education system in Texas.

The study found that out of the 60 Texas public schools offering Bible classes, at least one third of them are not meeting the state requirements to remain unbiased and academically sound.

As Chancey told The Associated Press, the primary issue behind the Bible classes is that many of them offer a biased view of religion favoring conservative Protestantism, and fail to properly address Roman Catholicism, Judaism, or mainstream Protestantism.

Chancey affirms that the teaching of Judaism is especially problematic, saying, "At a basic level, students are often being taught to experience Judaism only through Christian eyes."

"The bottom line is that [public schools] are not supposed to promote any particular religious view over other religious views, nor can they promote religion or non-religion over the other," Chancey told the Austin-American Statesman.

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As Chancey told Fox News Austin, the main issue is that teachers are not being provided by the state with proper guidelines or resources, and therefore they "often fall back either on their own religious background or popular culture and that's exactly what the law's safe guards intended to prevent."

One issue, as listed in the study, published online, was that "a number of courses and their instructional materials incorporate pseudo-scholarship, including claims that the Bible provides scientific proof of a 6,000-year-old Earth [young Earth creationism] and that the United States was founded as a Christian nation based on biblical Christian principles."

"At least one district's Bible course includes materials suggesting that the origins of racial diversity among humans today can be traced back to a curse placed on Noah's son in the biblical story of the flood. Such claims have long been a foundational component of some forms of racism," the study adds.

Additional criticism includes the lack of standardization among Bible classes throughout the state, the use of textbooks originally designed for Sunday School, and the failure to distinguish between history and science when teaching the Bible.

"If the Bible and the study of the Bible isn't getting the respect it deserves, and the faith of our students is not getting the respect it deserves in these classes, this is instruction that should be taking place in congregations and at home and not at our public schools," Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, said in a statement regarding 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 are 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.

In 2007, the Texas State Legislature passed a law that allows Bible classes to be taught in public schools. The law included guidelines on how to teach the courses, but teachers reportedly did not receive proper training.

Guidelines for the law, House Bill 1287, state that Bible elective courses may be made available in public schools as long as they took an impartial approach to religion and focused primarily on the Bible's cultural and historical influence.

The Texas Freedom Network has now reportedly called on the Texas Legislature to provide funding for training courses so that teachers may be better prepared.

Additionally, the watchdog group advised the State Board of Education to implement more specific guidelines for educators to follow when teaching religion courses so that the classes may be homogenized throughout the state.

 

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