New TFNEF Report: Texas Public School Bible Classes Teach Races Come from Noah’s Sons, Biblical Literalism, 6000-year-old Earth

In 2007 the Texas Legislature passed a law encouraging the state’s public schools to teach about the influence of the Bible in history and literature. Schools can do that either by weaving such instruction into existing social studies and literature courses, or they can create full courses about the Bible. Today the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released a report, authored by a religious studies professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, that examines what students are learning in the 57 school districts and three charter schools that teach Bible courses. Examples from Texas public schools:

  • Instructional material in two school districts teach that racial diversity today can be traced back to Noah’s sons, a long-discredited claim that has been a foundational component of some forms of racism.
  • Religious bias is common, with most courses taught from a Protestant — often a conservative Protestant — perspective. One course, for example, assumes Christians will at some point be “raptured.” Materials include a Venn diagram showing the pros and cons of theories that posit the rapture before the returning Jesus’ 1,000-year reign and those that place it afterward. In many courses, the perspectives of Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews are often left out.
  • Anti-Jewish bias — intentional or not — is not uncommon. Some courses even portray Judaism as a flawed and incomplete religion that has been replaced by Christianity.
  • Many courses suggest or openly claim that the Bible is literally true. “The Bible is the written word of God,” students are told in one PowerPoint presentation. Some courses go so far as to suggest that the Bible can be used to verify events in history. One district, for example, teaches students that the Bible’s historical claims are largely beyond question by listing biblical events side by side with historical developments from around the globe.
  • Course materials in numerous classes are designed to evangelize rather than provide an objective study of the Bible’s influence. A book in one district makes its purpose clear in the preface: “May this study be of value to you. May you fully come to believe that ‘Jesus is the Christ, the son of God.’ And may you have ‘life in His name.'”
  • A number of courses teach students that the Bible proves Earth is just 6,000 years old.
  • Students are taught that the United States is a Christian nation founded on the Christian biblical principles taught in their classrooms.
  • Academic rigor is so poor that many courses rely mostly on memorization of Bible verses and factoids from Bible stories rather than teaching students how to analyze what they are studying. One district relies heavily on Bible cartoons from Hanna-Barbera for its high school class. Students in another district spend two days watching what lesson plans describe a “the historic documentary Ancient Aliens,” which presents “a new interpretation of angelic beings described as extraterrestrials.”

How could such courses have gone so wrong? The 2007 law included numerous guidelines designed to help public schools create academically rigorous and constitutionally appropriate courses. But the Legislature failed to appropriate funding to develop in-service training for teachers of Bible courses, and most school districts simply ignored the requirement that teachers get such training. Moreover, the State Board of Education — under the control of religious conservatives at the time — refused to adopt serious curriculum standards to help guide school districts as they planned their courses. For these and other reasons detailed in the new report, school districts across Texas are offering courses about the Bible that simply have no place in a public school classrooms — or, in numerous cases, any classroom at all because their quality is so poor.

You can read our press release about the report here. Then click here to read the new report, a 2006 report on Bible courses in Texas public schools and a 2005 report about the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools’ dreadful curriculum materials. The National Council’s materials are used in a number of Texas school districts and elsewhere across the country.

 

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20 Comments

  1. liz
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    To Joe and Dan who commented at the beginning of this, Texas schools might be “required” to teach “bible literacy” in one of two ways, but not all of them actually do it. My school didn’t; we were taught evolution, or the teacher tried to steer clear of that topic altogether. I graduated class of 2011 though, so maybe it’s a little different now. I live in southeast Texas & am an avid non-believer, for the record ;) not everyone here has been brainwashed!

  2. Rhonda
    Posted January 29, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    I just finished watching the Revisionaries. Wow. I had been keeping up with the school board news pretty well as I had been living up in Nebraska for 8 years. Those right wing religious nuts have really screwed up the textbooks in this state, and now I read how they are pushing thier bible classes in our public schools. Are there any Democratic groups in the Richmond Texas area? I sure think it is time for me to get off my tail and get involved.

  3. Michael
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I have children in public elementary and high schools near Austin. If these classes are available in my district, nobody appears to be taking them.

  4. Donald
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    It’s shocking to come head to head with this level of abysmal ignorance in our electorate that would allow for even a minute the desemination of such misguided tripe. The bible cannot be taught theologically and stay within the Supreme courts edicts. It is an anthology containing largely folk stories, myths, parables,etc defining beliefs of 3000 years ago. It contains the largest collection of belief-without- evidence of any piece of literture claiming to be literally true. And that is the shame of it…it was never intended to be treted as such. As Dr. Bart Ehrman, professor of Religion U Of North Carolina says: The bible was created by believers for believers to be used to create more believers. It is a shame it is so misunderstood as a guide to history.

  5. Posted January 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Wanna have some fun? Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_who_have_been_considered_deities and get a list of people who were supposedly miraculously born, were killed and rose from the dead. Jesus was not the first, nor has he been the last individual to be considered a god.

    Most Christians have zero idea that Jesus (Joshua, actually) was an Essene Jew. The Essenes made today’s orthodox Jews seem to be flaming liberals in comparison. However, Joshua was very aware of Kabbalah, one of the key components of which are the “seferot” or lines that emanate from God to his people. That is where he got the concept of “The Father and I are one.” Also, when he said that he was a son of God, he was not saying “I am the only son of God,” because all humans were created by God, therefore all are sons and daughters of His.

    One has to understand that Joshua never said that he was a god, NEVER. When asked what the most important commandment was he said, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is ECHAD, which is translated as ONE.

    The Hebrew word means an indivisible ONE.

    Paul created the religion that has become Christianity, yet he never met the man! He was angry because Jews were kicking him out of the synagogues for preaching that Joshua was god. NO. The supreme and only statement of faith of Judaism is “Hear, Israel, the Lord our God is One.” ONE, get it? So Paul decided to take his message to the Gentiles who, because they readily accepted this, that or another deity, grabbed onto his message and when Rome made it their official religion, it took off like a F-16.

    What puzzles me is why people who worship a Jew hate Jews and blame them for everything under the sun. Jews are even being blamed for the Sandy Hook shooting! How a people who are less than 2 tenths of one percent of the population can do all that they are blamed for is, well, a weird miracle of sorts.

  6. Fred Boulton
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    It certainly is a laugh and a half reading this article from where I am (Australia). Actually, I shouldn’t laugh at all, because it’s seriously disturbing. The religious thinking itself is bad enough, but then to have the audacity to teach it to young people is shocking.

  7. Thin-ice
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    With each story I read like this, I hate Texas a little bit more.

    Sorry, Austin. You don’t belong in Texas.

  8. Patricia Kayden
    Posted January 21, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Is anyone taking Texas public schools to court to fight this?

  9. Charles
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Let me get this right Pierre. A girl from Seattle nearly had a nervous breakdown when she heard that the hand outlines were 50,000 years old? The thing that always amazes me is this. These people think that just 5,000 years was a really l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-g time ago—a staggeringly long time ago. Dr. Bruce Prescott says it best. They believe nonsense like this because their conception of God is TOO SMALL. Instead, they need a nice, small, domesticated God that they feel strong enough to influence and control—or as I have heard some of them say in the past (more or less):

    “The scriptures say that he is our God and He changes not. See!!! He “changes not”!!! Once he says or does something, he cannot do anything else. He cannot go back on it because He would be a liar.” Now you see. He’s boxed himself in on that, and we can use that to control him, influence him, nudge him where we want him to be, and protect ourselves from him. It’s just like Pastor Stanley down in Atlanta says. He’s a vending machine stocked full of blessings. All you have to do is know the nature of the vending machine and how to “jimmie” it so you can make it cough up a blessing for you.”

    I find this view of God to be reprehensible in the extreme—small minded—and just plain not true.

    • Pete Rogan
      Posted January 21, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Who the Gods destroy, they first drive mad. Stupid is a kind of mad. We need to watch these people so that when they go, they don’t drag the rest of us down with them.

    • Posted January 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Oh, Charles, laughter is a blessing and you have given me a good five minutes of blessings! Thanks. IMHO, funny-mental Christianity has a HUGE DEVIL and an itty-bitty god who quivers in fear of that DEVIL because their “god,” the DEVIL is stronger than their little deity.

      Although a being called The Satan exists as a prosecuting attorney, there ain’t no such thing as the devil because if it did, it would be as strong, if not stronger, than God.

  10. indy.texto
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    From France,

    What i read on TFN website is just unbelievable.

    One anecdote
    In 2005, We had for one school year in our family a 16y girl from Seattle who was absolutely devastated just by visiting a cave* where 50 000 years old shapes of hands could be seen on the wall, drawn with charcoal. The paleontologist tried to explain her but she was unable to accept the idea. She has been completely brainwashed in her high school.

    <why do Americans accept Elmer Gantrys in their public schools ?

    * niaux cave France

    • TPK
      Posted January 17, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      She was from Seattle?? Wow, that’s really one of the last places in the country I’d expect to be teaching creationism.

      • Posted January 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        The Discovery Institute, a creationist thinktank, is in Seattle.

        • TPK
          Posted February 2, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          Yeah but even so, it’s a pretty liberal city. Bible Belt it is not.

  11. breckenridge
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    The belief that the Bible is word-for-word true is truly the domain of inferior minds.

    One need look no further than the states with the heaviest infestations of right wing evangelicals to confirm this. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia have the highest rates of right wing evangelical Christians per population. These states are also the states that have had the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation for years and years. This is not a coincidence. Education is the enemy of fundamentalist religion.

  12. doodlebugger
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Good expose. The electorate in the majority in the state do not care that this is happening or it wouldn’t be. Many probably think its great and have enrolled their kids in these classes.
    Can someone monitor science classes and see how many teachers are giving creationism credit as a bona fide “theory”?. I’m willing to bet its alot. Nudge nudge, wink, wink.
    Say no more , say no more. Thanks Governor:)

  13. Joe Lapp
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    If I’m reading TFN’s description of the 2007 law properly, Texas public schools are required to teach “bible literacy” in one of two ways: incorporate it into a social studies class, or offer it in a bible class.

    • Dan
      Posted January 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Joe: Yes. To meet the HB 1287 requirement, school districts can incorporate discussion of the Bible’s influence into social studies or literature/language arts classes, or they can offer a separate Bible class. Many social studies textbooks have long included information about the major world religions and religious documents, including the Bible.

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