The Huffington Post covered the research of SMU religious studies expert Mark A. Chancey. A new report by Chancey, “Reading, Writing & Religion II,” found that most of the 60 public school districts in Texas that offer Bible study courses aren’t meeting a 2007 state law mandating that the courses be fair as well as academically and legally sound.
Chancey prepared the report for the Austin-based education watchdog group Texas Freedom Network. His study uncovered bias, factual errors and insufficient curriculum standards in Texas public school Bible courses.
An SMU Religious Studies professor, Chancey recommends the Texas State Board of Education develop Bible course curriculum standards and the Texas Education Agency be allowed funds for a teacher training program.
“As a biblical scholar and especially as a parent, I want our state’s public schools to take the study of the Bible’s influence as seriously as they do the study of science or history,” Chancey told The Dallas Morning News. “Academically, many of these classes lack rigor and substance, and some seem less interested in cultivating religious literacy than in promoting religious beliefs. Their approach puts their school districts in legal jeopardy and their taxpayers in financial jeopardy.”
Chancey, a professor in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has devoted considerable attention to the constitutional, political and academic issues raised by religion courses in public schools.
Students in Texas’ public schools are still learning that the Bible provides scientific evidence that the Earth is 6,000 years old, that astronauts have discovered “a day missing in space in elapsed time” that affirms biblical stories of the sun standing still and moving backwards, and that the United States was founded as a Christian nation based on biblical Christian principles.
As more Texas schools are teaching Bible courses, many still fail to adhere to guidelines outlined in House Bill 1287, passed in 2007 to improve the academic quality of elective Bible courses while protecting the religious freedom of students and families, according to a new report by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. The study covered the state’s 57 districts and three charter schools offering Bible courses in the 2011-12 academic year.
Among the findings from “Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible courses in 2011-2010,” students are being taught:
“The Bible is the written word of God… The Bible is united in content because there is no contradictions in the writing[sic]. The reason for this is because the Bible is written under God’s direction and inspiration.”
“Giving God his rightful place in the national life of this country has provided a rich heritage for all its citizens.”
“Christ’s resurrection was an event that occurred in time and space — that it was, in reality, historical and not mythological (cf. 2 Pet. 1:16).”
“Survival of the Jewish nations [sic] is one of the miracles of history and her greatest agony is yet to come.”
“The first time the Lord gathered his people back was after the Babylonian captivity. The second time the Lord will gather his people back will be at the end of the age.
“Sad to say mainstream anti-God media do not portray these true facts [of Moses and the Red Sea crossing] in the light of faith but prefer to sceptically [sic] doubt such archaeological proofs of the veracity & historicity of the Biblical account, one of the most accurate history books in the world[.]
Students are also reportedly being taught the theology of the “end times” and that they may be living in the last days.
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