"Long hair, beard and sandals, and a funky bunch of friends, reckon we'd just nail him up if he came down again." - Kristofferson, Jesus Was a Capricorn
I love Texas. Almost as much as I hate its prevailing majority politics. This is why I choose to make fun of my state. Laughter is much preferred to tears. And man do we have some reasons to cry down here.
The latest comes from the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), a progressive organization dedicated to protecting religious freedom. TFN has just released a report by Dr. Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University. It's on a topic that doesn't exist in too many states: Public Bible School Courses.
Yes, it's true. Texas schools -- well, 57 of them -- offer courses on the Bible. The state legislature approved this in 2007. A few other states do, too. Think Oklahoma and surrounds. Professor Chancey wanted to know if the Bible was being taught as mandated by the law, which is in an historical context and not devotionally. Of course, anyone who understands anything about Texas knows the answer to that question without an in-depth study.
But before we get into the funny stuff, it's worth noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Bible can be taught in public schools. But not in a manner that promotes a specific religion. Uh, yeah. How is that accomplished? Especially in Texas, where our elected state school board argues for creationism alongside evolution and the president of the board takes pride in "standing up to experts." Those educated people do tend to be a pain with their sciencey stuff. They need to be stood up to.
I confess to being disgusted by any religion being taught in public schools. I don't want anyone's belief system being advanced in a building that is funded by my tax dollars. I don't even like the idea of school districts renting out their buildings to religious groups for Sunday gatherings, which is a widespread practice in Texas. Regardless of what the religious right claims, the founders always intended to keep religion out of government.
But that's not what we teach our little ones in Texas. One school district, according to the TFN study, quotes Revolutionary War hero Patrick Henry as saying, "It cannot be emphasized too strong or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but the gospel of Jesus Christ." Not true. Just crap. Give him liberty or give him made up quotes.
But that's a minor historical sin compared to the other nonsense Texas kids are learning when they sign up for these Bible courses. There's a full cuppa crazy to be had. In the Eastland Independent School District, for example, there is a curriculum tract that talks about the biblical "missing day," and that "the space program is now proving what has been called a 'myth' in the Bible to be truth." The little learner gets told that "'astronauts and space scientists at Green Belt, MD,' discovered 'a day missing in space and elapsed time' that corroborates biblical stories of the sun standing still." From the book of dumbass, I believe, Chapter 4, verses 11-16.
Eastland ISD is on the case to keep their kids uninformed here in the real world. They even show students videos from the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas, which is famed for its arguments that the earth is 6,000 years old. They also say they have a fossilized dinosaur print that has been "intruded" with a "pristine human footprint" taken from a nearby riverbed. A recent state school board president has said he we are obligated to teach our children that there were dinosaurs on Noah's ark and that humans and Tyrannosaurus Rex hung out in the same jungles together, which might explain the size of T Rex with lots of people easy to eat.
We are a backwards-ass state in a fast-forward world. Texas is a land of contradictions. We are creating some of the planet's most advanced technology while teaching our children that archaeology proves the Bible to be factual. One Bible course worksheet in a public school says, "Archaeologist Sir Walter Ramsay (who went to Asia Minor himself on such a quest), found this book [Bible] to have been written with incredible accuracy. In fact, he could not even find one error." Well, end of discussion then, if Sir Walter thinks it's real.
In Texas, we don't let our students be confronted by all of the archaeology that contradicts the Bible. Instead, we teach them "on the whole, archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record. More than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine." Two, at the most, I bet.
Hell, a lot of this comes with commentary so our kids get it right before they go forth into the economy to seek employment and a farthing or two. One document from a West Texas school district says, "Sad to say, mainstream anti-God media do not portray these true facts in the light of faith. But prefer to skeptically [sic] doubt such archaeological proofs of the veracity and historicity of the biblical account of one of the most accurate books in the history of the world." The materials state bluntly, without equivocation, that "Christ's resurrection was an event that occurred in time and space -- that was, in reality, historical and not mythological."
Which is a matter of faith. Not history. Nor science. Did I mention that I am sick of religious material of any kind being taught in public schools? I think I did. It is wrong. And an abuse of my tax dollars. I doth protest. Here and now. Loudly as hell. Stop it. All of these crazy Texans excited about Christianity being taught in public schools would spew their barbecue if anyone wanted to hold a class or two on the Koran. And that's precisely what makes this entire thing wrong. And hypocritical. And a violation of our personal rights to not have to endure someone else's religious beliefs in public institutions.
So help me, god.
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