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Don’t Post Up Jesus

By Jesse Taylor
Saturday, July 19, 2008 21:40 EDT
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imageLast year, the Texas state legislature passed a law allowing for Bible classes to be taught in public schools. The classes are allegedly supposed to be non-denominational and focused on the history and literature of the Bible without any focus on preaching or proselytization.

The Texas state legislature also passed a law declaring that I was a cowboy rocketman on Friday. Thank you and your wonderful delusions, state legislature!

The adopted rule follows broad guidelines used for English and social studies classes. It says courses should 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.”

Courses shall not “endorse, favor, or promote, or disfavor or show hostility toward, any particular religion or nonreligious faith or religious perspective,” the rule says.

“I think that’s pretty specific,” said Jonathan Saenz of the conservative Free Market Foundation. “The constitutional safeguards are there.”

Kind of like how the Fourth Amendment keeps our government from spying on us, or all the laws saying “don’t kill motherfuckers” have reduced the murder rate to nearly zero. There is, of course, one small problem with Texas’ plan to provide America its future theologians, versed in the high-minded dialectic of academic study and incisive commentary on Biblical texts: they keep accidentally slipping in religious worship. It’s a circumstance that was wildly unpredictable, honestly – it’s like when I open a pack of M&Ms and have no idea what color will come out. Well, it would probably help if I didn’t keep buying single-color packs.

Mark Chancey, associate professor in religious studies at Southern Methodist University, has studied Bible classes already offered in about 25 districts for the Texas Freedom Network.

The study found most of the courses were explicitly devotional with almost exclusively Christian, usually Protestant, perspectives.

It also found that most were taught by teachers with no academic training in biblical, religious or theological studies and who were not familiar with the issues of separation of church and state.

“Some classes promote creation science. Some classes denigrate Judaism. Some classes explicitly encourage students to convert to Christianity or to adopt Christian devotional practices,” Chancey said. “This is all well documented, and the board knows it.”

I am SHOCKED. And APPALLED. And MILDLY PECKISH.

The fact that such blatantly dishonest cockbaggery exists isn’t surprising, but this exact thing happens every single time. There is no body of theologically-trained high-school level teachers who are ready and waiting to teach 17-year-olds about nondevotional theological interpretation for 50 minutes a day. Simple supply and demand dictates that when you’re trying to fill those spots, they’re going to be filled with those who are available – the brain-hungry proselytizers who believe in the mission of some good old-fashioned Jesus in lieu of study hall.

Ah, well. I’ve got to head to Dallas and pick up my laser lasso.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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