Alex Blaze

Kentucky might OK the Bible being taught in public schools

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 22, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: abstinence only education, Christian beliefs, education policy, Kentucky, religion, Senate, Texas

The Kentucky Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to put the Bible in schools:

The proposal would allow schools the option to offer Bible classes as a social studies credit, according to the Associated Press.

Democratic Sen. David Boswell, the chief sponsor of the bill, said the Bible lessons would be based on literature, art, cultural, and social aspects, and therefore the classes would be constitutionally sound.

I absolutely agree that the Bible can be used appropriately as a historical, cultural, and literary text in schools, and the Constitution agrees.

But such a law leaves the doors wide open for abuse by teachers who don't care all too much about the religious autonomy of their students. As that study last year that focused on what actually gets taught in abstinence-only education found out, when such a controversial issue so close to right-wingers hearts gets legitimized by the state and put in schools, some teachers won't think twice about how to construct a curriculum that respects the various backgrounds students are coming from. Instead, the rightwinger lightbulb goes off in their head and they say "Now I can finally teach the Truth!"

Considering the very next quotation in the above-linked article, it's fairly obvious that not even all the senators are backing the Bible as a sociological text:

Sen. Julian Carroll told the members of the committee that passing the measure was the moral thing to do.

"We took the Bible out of our schools, but we put nothing back," Carroll said. "When we took the Bible out of the schools, we also unfortunately took out that portion of the Bible which relates to life skills, which relates to value systems. And so our students these days do not have the full opportunity, in my judgment, to be taught those life skills and value judgments that keep them out of our penitentiaries ..."

Makes sense. It's not like a Christian ever broke the law.

This comes after the Texas Board of Education decided to rewrite history:

McLeroy moved that Margaret Sanger, the birth-control pioneer, be included because she "and her followers promoted eugenics," that language be inserted about Ronald Reagan's "leadership in restoring national confidence" following Jimmy Carter's presidency and that students be instructed to "describe the causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association." The injection of partisan politics into education went so far that at one point another Republican board member burst out in seemingly embarrassed exasperation, "Guys, you're rewriting history now!" Nevertheless, most of McLeroy's proposed amendments passed by a show of hands.

Finally, the board considered an amendment to require students to evaluate the contributions of significant Americans. The names proposed included Thurgood Marshall, Billy Graham, Newt Gingrich, William F. Buckley Jr., Hillary Rodham Clinton and Edward Kennedy. All passed muster except Kennedy, who was voted down.

The right's far ahead of the left when it comes to education. Remember, these are the folks who don't want the majority of America to be education, doesn't want the majority of America to have the skills needed to critically evaluate their own political and economic position in society, thinks history and reality itself should be rewritten with a conservative bias, and who believe that common, small-t truth is less important than Godly, big-T Truth.

Does anyone trust them to teach the Bible in schools in a way that's fair and objective, let alone comparative and in context? Well, no, and they're making it clear that's not even their intent. I foresee ACLU lawsuits should this pass the full legislature.

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No I don't trust the right to teach a Bible class properly.

At the high school level, I would only be comfortable with this if they taught other religious texts in the same classroom as well.

My other issue is with the translation. For historical reasons, for example, I would only favor the KJV as opposed to modern translations (many of which seem to have more to do with conservative ideology than accurate translation).

Actually, many modern translations (like the New Revised Standard Version) are much more open-minded, use some inclusive language, and offer good critical material for really understand where the Bible came from, it's different cultural streams, etc.
I'd LOVE to teach Bible in High School! But I wouldn't last as long as most pastoral prayers.
They want THEIR Bibliolatry taught in schools.

Well...I was thinking less of the inclusive language standpoint and more so about the fact that this is being taught from a social studies POV.

From a social studies and a literary POV, I would teach the KJV. again, I wouldn't teach it like the fundies, but the KJV does make for wonderful reading and it is important for English and American Literature.

Although, I would follow up on one thing you mentioned and include some supplementary critical material.

The zombie Antichrists of the world continue to push obsolete pseudoreligion on the innocent minds of the nation. These spiritually bankrupt hypocritical ideologues have no place nor right to be heard, much less any right to make decisions on such matters. No human governmental system has any rights or powers except those granted by the universal government of god, which has long since set its hand and face against all forms of fundamentalism, but especially against the parasitic antichristian sects that dare to claim to speak for or in the name of Jesus, who is god and whom they know not.

As someone that went to school in Kentucky, I would say that no, I don't trust them to teach objective religion courses. Frankly, teaching the Bible as a Social Studies course, even if absent religious context, is biased because it is the Government sanctioning one religion over the others. If they were to approve a World Religions course I'd be OK with it. However, even if that were the case, in most of Kentucky that class would be used as a platform to openly bash other religions and present Chrisitianity as the one, "true" religion.

But this is Kentucky we're speaking of. Their schools have many other issues to deal with, including large-scale racism and constantly being ranked in the bottom of the country for performance. There is no reason this proposal should even be considered until larger issues are fixed.

I say let them teach the Bible. I can't wait to see how they incorporate Pentateuchal criticism and the Documentary Hypothesis as well as debates in biblical scholarship such as whether or not the Israelites were actually monotheistic, themes of child sacrifice, whether or not God had a consort, the debates over whether or not a united monarchy existed as well as the collapse of the archaeological methods that were recently used to "prove" that the Bible was true. Oh wait...that's NOT what they have in mind?

Kentucky allows teaching about Greek Mythology, after it had run its course of believability.

The Bible should have to wait, too.

If "The Bible" is the lecture portion of the course, I suppose "snake handling" must be the lab...or is it a prerequisite?