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Though it’s really not that surprising, the Texas State Senate passed a bill requiring all public schools in the state of Texas to offer an elective course on the bible and its influence on culture. Now, I am generally in favor of such a class, at least one that treats the bible as just another text, and not the divine revelation of god. I completely agree with having a class that shows how the bible was supposedly passed down throughout history and gives the scholarly consensus of the accuracy of the translations, where the books came from, and why the certain books were chosen. Because it is in this that I think maybe some of the kids will see how inaccurate translations are and how pretty much the entire bible is not based on historical fact.
Unfortunately this is Texas we are talking about. The problem with the bill (HB 1287) is that it really doesn’t set many overall standards for how the individual schools are going to handle this. It leaves it up to the individual districts to govern the curriculum. The major problem with this is that some of the small schools that don’t have many students and have one church in that town that literally everyone goes to may abuse this and use the class to continue to preach to the students on the taxpayer’s dime. It should not be much of a problem in the larger schools, but Texas isn’t exactly a bastion of free thought.
Another problem is that they do not specify one or a list of translations that the classes are supposed to use. If you are teaching a class on the historical influence of the bible then each student should be required to have at least a copy of the King James Version of the bible, since it was used for such a long period of time, and maybe an English translation of the Latin Vulgate. Some translations are indeed superior to others, but, they have not been used for a very long period of time and there do not have much historical impact (i.e. the NIV, etc.).
I’m sure that the ACLU is already researching a lawsuit against this bill, but I disagree with this. Let them have the bible classes as long as they are taught without proselytizing. If some school abuses it and then they find out, yes, by all means bring a lawsuit against that district, but don’t punish all of them. I’m going to reiterate what I heard on The Non-Prophets yesterday by saying that I would not be surprised if the first person to bring a lawsuit against this bill is actually a fundamentalist Christian. I know that there are some very conservative congregations that teach the King James Version of the bible as god’s completely literal English translation of the scriptures, even though it is one of the worst. We all know how completely and totally sane some of these right wingers are and if their version of the bible is not completely taught from I would not be the least bit surprised that they would bring a lawsuit against this or at least pitch a huge fit.
Well Texas, the ball is in your court, don’t screw this up (though you probably will).
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