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Our favorite religion reporter at The Wall Street Journal, Suzanne Sataline, writes about how teaching the Bible in public school is (*big gasp*) causing a debate in Texas.

The text used in Odessa high schools, developed by the nonprofit National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, represents as fact that the Bible was a “foundational text” in the framing of the U.S., that the King James Bible “remains one of the…most-loved books in the history of the world,” and that “the sun went black” when Jesus was crucified. Critics say that such statements represent the views of some believers, not necessarily scholars.

Seeing as it’s wrong on all three counts, it seems like we should stop teaching that material in a place of real education… but that may be tough. The Council’s founder, Elizabeth Ridenour, “says that nearly 400 districts have adopted the National Council curriculum since 1992.”
There’s some competition, though, for those of us who see the importance of the Bible as a work of literature:

A competing multidenominational curriculum is offered by the Bible Literacy Project, a nonprofit group that gathered a board of scholars to write a student text that discusses the Bible’s books and their influence on Shakespeare, poetry, art and music. Available for the past year, the textbook has mostly received praise from scholars and critics. Charles Stetson, the project’s founder, says it has been adopted by 83 school districts in 30 states.

That seems like it’s covering exactly what everyone wants a Bible class to cover: Its influence. This curriculum is not getting into how factually accurate (or inaccurate) the Bible is. It leaves that for the home.
Of course, it’s the first curriculum that seems to be winning right now. It’s no surprise why, either…

John Waggoner… says he is pleased that several members of the National Council advisory board are prominent evangelical Christians who, like him, believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. “We feel like their ideals are along the same lines of ours,” he says.

It’s amazing how many people manage to mention their religion’s inerrancy even while on paper they say how this curriculum is not religious at all.
They need to remember that while Religious Literacy is vital to a complete education, Religious Dogma is a detriment.
Time magazine also write about this subject a couple months ago.
(thanks to TX Atheist for the link)

[tags]atheist, atheism, Wall Street Journal, Suzanne Sataline, Bible, Texas, Odessa, National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, King James Bible, Jesus, Elizabeth Ridenour, Bible Literacy Project, Charles Stetson, John Waggoner, Christian, Religious Literacy, Time magazine, TX Atheist[/tags]