State of Belief: Teaching the bible at public schools in Texas

Religious radio State of Belief with Rev. Welton Gaddy interviewed SMU religious studies expert Mark A. Chancey for its program “Teaching the bible at public schools in Texas,” which aired March 11.

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.

Listen to the interview.

EXCERPT:

By Jonathan Craig
State of Belief

The Texas Freedom Network Education fund has released a new report taking a closer look at biblical religious teaching in the state’s public schools. The author of the report, Dr. Mark Chancey joins Welton to discuss the implications of his findings. Dr. Chancey is Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Listen to the interview.

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