Since I am a blogger who often states my opposition to religious fundamentalists’ attempts to subvert and consume secular societies’ freedoms, my regular readers (vast crowd that they are) might expect that I would condemn this action as contrary to the separation of church and state. Well, maybe so, maybe not. Depending on the context, I have no initial problem with it. Schools must be free to include relevant material in the curriculum, even if it is politically “objectionable” to some. Christianity’s influence makes it a necessary part of studies in philosophy, history, and social science. The objective examination of the Bible can contribute to students’ education in those disciplines.
However, if a public school tries to proselytize any religion, be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Shamanism, or whatever, then that would be a violation of the 1st amendment. Private religious schools can design curricula around their religious beliefs, and church bible-study classes exist for that purpose. But public schools are funded by tax dollars from people who are many things besides Christian. That’s why we who support the American constitution are so enthusiastically opposed to Christian fundamentalists’ constant, insidious attempts to sneak their religion into our classrooms.
So that leaves us with the question: What classes do they want to use the Bible as a textbook?
"The bill creates two courses, the History and Literature of the Old Testament Era and the History and Literature of the New Testament Era, that can be offered as electives… it requires that the Bible itself, not a textbook, be the core material used."Judging by their titles, these courses’ objectivity is arguable. To me, they sound entirely religious in nature and appear to fail the public-school litmus test. To define the periods they examine as the “new testament era” and the “old testament era” is to define them entirely in biblical terms. Honestly, would one expect these classes to include a review of all the history and literature of those “eras”? From all over the world? From China? From the Americas? Rome? Greece? Egypt? Mesopotamia? Doubtful. More likely, the only “history” explored in the classes will be “history” as taken from the Bible, which is not history at all, and the only “literature” will be the bible itself. At least they got the literature part right.
It’s obvious that these two classes are another thinly-veiled attempt to use (non-Christian) taxpayers’ money to proselytize fundamentalists’ literal interpretation of the Bible. And that’s too bad, because they had a golden opportunity to show how their religious texts could be used for real education in a relevant way, and instead they’re just finding more ways to legislate their religious dogma through deceptive word-play. A pity, but at least they’re consistent.