Constitutional Illiteracy: Texas Orders All Schools To Teach “Bible Literacy”

Texas140px-Family-bibleTexas legislators have continued their battle to add religious training in public schools. The state has a new law that requires that Texas public schools incorporate Bible literacy into the curriculum — though it offers no guidelines or instructions in how to do so.

Various schools are now offering special elective classes on the Bible while others are incorporating Biblical passages into regular classes. This is made all the more difficult, of course, by the separation of Church and State. The legislators did not order literacy on the Qu’ran or Torah.

A litigator might suspect that the lack of instructions is an effort to diminish any vulnerability to a challenge. The optional aspect of course certainly would help in that regard. I have long stated that schools could teach about theology and that such a course could be educational rather than sectarian. It would have to incorporate a wide array of religious texts as well as an understanding of agnostic and atheist views. It is clear that these legislators did not have such a course in mind.

The provision requires that the curriculum include “religious literature, including the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and New Testament, and its impact on history and literature.” The use of “include” will likely be used to suggest that other faiths could be represented in the classes, though the express reference to the Judeo-Christian text makes it mandatory as opposed to discretionary for other faiths.” It is more specific in this portion of the law:

(1) an elective course on the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and its impact and an elective course on the New Testament and its impact; or
(2) an elective course that combines the courses described by Subdivision (1).
(b) The purpose of a course under this section is to:
(1) teach students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy; and
(2) familiarize students with, as applicable:
(A) the contents of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament;
(B) the history of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament;
(C) the literary style and structure of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament; and
(D) the influence of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament on law, history, government, literature, art, music, customs, morals, values, and culture.
(c) A student may not be required to use a specific translation as the sole text of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament and may use as the basic textbook a different translation of the Hebrew Scriptures or New Testament from that chosen by the board of trustees of the student’s school district or the student’s teacher.
(d) A course offered under this section shall follow applicable law and all federal and state guidelines in maintaining religious neutrality and accommodating the diverse religious views, traditions, and perspectives of students in their school district. A course under this section shall not endorse, favor, or promote, or disfavor or show hostility toward, any particular religion or nonreligious faith or religious perspective. Nothing in this statute is intended to violate any provision of the United States Constitution or federal law, the Texas Constitution or any state law, or any rules or guidelines provided by the United States Department of Education or the Texas Education Agency.

It may not “intend[] to violate any provision of the United States Constitution or federal law” but civil libertarians would beg to differ on the ability of a state to require courses on the Bible.

The University of Texas has created a seminar to teach how to teach Biblical passages. They can go to various sites on how to teach Bible literacy.

Obviously, for civil libertarians, such programs smack of a certain Talibanization of education. It is certainly not as extreme. However, it is highly questionable from a constitutional standpoint to have a legislature order the teaching of a single religious text in an act of sectarian favoritism. It has schools struggling to satisfy the law and hopefully civil libertarian lawyers scrambling to challenge the law.

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48 thoughts on “Constitutional Illiteracy: Texas Orders All Schools To Teach “Bible Literacy””

  1. George,

    This would require too much thought. Don’t you know according to some Texans. Jesus spoke English.

  2. George They won’t be discussing the history of the Catholic Church because Catholics aren’t true Christians in Texas.

  3. I have an additional section for the new law in Texas:

    – Discuss how the state has used religion to manipulate the populace since the time of Christ;

    – Discuss Julius Caesar and his coronation as pontifex maximus, head of church and state;

    – Discuss the consolidation of power under Constantine in the name of Christianity in 325 AD;

    – Discuss the Catholic church’s 300 year retroactive naming of pope’s back to the time of Christ, when indeed there was no such institution historically;

    – Discuss the history of the King James Bible, the translation process (60 committees) and how the King had language that challenged the state’s power scrubbed from original text and had concepts bolstered that enforced his belief in the divine right of kings, something King James fervently advocated and wrote about in his work, The Trew Law of Free Monarchies.

    I mean, if we’re going to learn about the BIBLE, let’s really learn. Not some “preferred” history.

    I also wonder how Christians reconcile that fact that the man who put the fist Bible together, in any formal sort of way, Constantine, and who also served as pope, was also a notorious homosexual. Did he go to heaven? Hmmm?

  4. Byron,

    Are Tri-Delts hot in Texas? They seem to be hot everywhere else. The upside down delta is the universal sign for …..
    I always thought that they were HOT. I was never in a Fraternity, but I can assure you that the Sororities I was in, they were all HOT. I have no issue with an upside down delt or a sideways delt.

    What does this mean? Is it a Texas conspiracy to dominate the male of the species through mind control, as everyone knows we think with our….
    As we age the (most of us) the brain take over, once again.
    Brains are such an important requirement for an education, has the entire state lost theirs?

    Well W went to an Ivy League School, you tell me.

  5. Buddha,

    Ok, I was just hoping for incineration upon re-entry. Fiberglass works well. When it get heated up it burns too.

  6. The only issue I have with duct tape is that it’s hard to make a 100% efficient seal with it. Genes are tiny. I want to minimize contamination. How about we meet in the middle and use fiberglass?

  7. Buddha,

    I was thinking maybe Duct Tape. The main staple of any real red neck tool box. But how much tape would be needed to secure them for at least 11,000 feet. I am sure the G-Force would render them conscienceless, however that does not appear to be a problem thus far.

    You take all of the Bushes that are natural born too. I am not sure if this applies to the wifes side of the family.

  8. AY:

    Are Tri-Delts hot in Texas? They seem to be hot everywhere else. The upside down delta is the universal sign for …..

    What does this mean? Is it a Texas conspiracy to dominate the male of the species through mind control, as everyone knows we think with our….

    Brains are such an important requirement for an education, has the entire state lost theirs?

  9. This is obviously unconstitutional.

    However, maybe it could have one benefit before the cease and desist order. If these kids actually read the bible, maybe they would form a more complete picture of Christianity. Personally, I don’t think any of these evangelicals have even read the thing. Their preachers tell them passages, quoted out of context, while ignoring whole other ones.

    If you actually read the thing, you would have to conclude that you cannot be Christian and be a capitalist (i.e. have no worldly possessions). That the Jews committed the most horrible acts of genocide against the Canaanites. That the four Gospels completely contradict each other on key points of the myth (sorry, story. Oh sorry, historic timeline lol). Who found the tomb anyway? They are told Mary Magdalene in Sunday school, but each Gospel has a different version (to name just one instance).

    Nahhh, on second thought. Any teacher that directed the “students” to any such passages or ideas would be hung on a fence.

  10. It’s a deal, but only if we can encase the entire Bush clan in Lucite to prevent their genes from further corrupting the species. I’d hold out for launching the whole lot toward the sun atop I shiny rocket, but hey, that’s just extravagance for the sake of poetic justice.

    This deal would have to include non-Texas Bush’s too like that sneering twaddle-head Billy who works for that stupid entertainment show and the ignorant little party girl getting the morning show TV job for her, her . . . why and how exactly did she land a TV job? It certainly wasn’t either brains or skill. And she looks enough like Dad to make me hate her on sight. Good purchase, boys. She’ll last 6 mos. or year once you see her Q scores unless Daddy is underwriting her salary and your ad revenue shortfalls. She’s going to be as popular as dysentery.

    But I digress.

    It is a deal with the Lucite Proviso.

  11. Buddha,

    Ok, but we keep Rear Adm Bobby Inman and you take the Bushes, the whole lot of them.

    I do think that the Ghosts of Austin past will visit you this All Hollowed Eve. Speak Evil of any city in Texas but Austin and the Tri-Delts I tell you. And I will recall they spell which hast been cast.

  12. Texas.

    Don’t submit to their jurisdiction. They’ve collectively gone insane. Waaaay ahead of the curve.

    Sorry AY. It’s crap like this that makes me write off the whole state – some days even Austin (sorry boys and girls).

    Awful and evil is just about right.

    It is becoming apparent that the best way to deal with Texas and Texan business is avoidance.

    Since the theocratic fascists don’t comprehend anything as having value unless it’s money or has “Jesus Approved! ©” stamped on it, let’s all just make a concerted effort to not do business with or purchase products from Texas based companies and see how well they like that.

  13. puzzling 1, September 8, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Sounds like Texas wants school districts to shift a good chunk of their budgets from textbooks and technology to lawyers and litigation.
    From my perspective you make this sound awful and evil. However, cha ching. You have some loser and some winners. School districts are known to pay the bills submitted. Cha Ching.

  14. Sounds like Texas wants school districts to shift a good chunk of their budgets from textbooks and technology to lawyers and litigation.

  15. Jay,

    When we close the borders no one will be allowed in or out. Should you not wait until W get back and Kay Bailey resigns to run against Perry before we forced to secede? Right Concept, Bad Execution. Oh and we have had our share with Killer Keller.

  16. Instead of waiting for Texas to voluntarily secede, can’t we just vote to kick them out?

  17. Suffice it to say that Texas has some explaining to do.
    Start splaining. Hum, Texas is home to a divisive Southern Baptist convocation. If you ain’t for em you is again em. I have a family friend that does not go to church and has a child that is in theater. The practice could not happen on Sunday but rather on Labor Day.

    Maybe you have heard about the controversy of Rent? It could not be performed at the High School but had to be played at SMU. Yeah Baby, way ahead of the times.

  18. I will be less polite than Prof. Turley. This latest abuse of the Constitution from our old friend, Texas is disgusting. The separation of Church and State just ended in Texas and the American Taliban is just around the corner. Texas should secede from the Nation for the good of the rest of us. How this will ever pass Constitutional muster is beyond me, but I will leave that question to some of the bigger brains on this site. Suffice it to say that Texas has some explaining to do.

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