The ACLU of Oklahoma has procured a copy of that new Bible curriculum that is going to be used in one school district in the state, a curriculum paid for and developed by Hobby Lobby owner Steve Green, and they’re finding some serious problems with the objectivity of the material. How terribly unsurprising.
While the course does explain the inspiration behind famous works of art and holds a prism to historical events, it also endorses behavior for religious reasons and implies that bad things happen as a direct result of disregarding God’s rules.
The Associated Press obtained a draft copy of the curriculum from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, which got it from the school district. The ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation say using the curriculum raises constitutional issues and want the school district to reconsider.
The course is promoted by Green, the executive for the crafts store chain who is also a member of the Bible museum’s board. Green, who has said he wants the program in thousands of schools by 2017, declined to speak to the Associated Press.
“This is not about a denomination, or a religion, it’s about a book,” Green told Mustang school board members last November. “We will not try to go down denominational, religious-type roads.”
Notice the slippery language about denominations, which is entirely irrelevant. Notice also that this clearly conflicts with what he tells religious audiences, which is that he created the curriculum in order to get people to believe in the Bible and bring them back to God:
That is what our goal would be, so that we can have reintroduced this book to this nation. This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. There is (sic) lessons from the past that we can learn from the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it. And if we don’t know it, our future is gonna be very scary. So we need to be able to teach and educate students.
This is standard Christian right behavior that we’ve seen time and time again. When they’re talking to a secular audience about evolution and biology classes, they pretend that all they want is to give teachers and students the “academic freedom” to question evolution; when they’re talking to a religious audience, they admit that it’s all about standing up for God and Jesus.
Among the topics covered by the curriculum are the role of religion in early America, discussing the New World as a haven for those seeking to escape religious persecution.
I bet they don’t mention that those same people who fled England to escape religious persecution immediately began persecuting those of other religions, even those of the same religion but the wrong denomination.
From the outset, the book describes God as eternal, “faithful and good,” ”full of love” and “an ever-present help in times of trouble.”
“The first pages of the Bible spotlight God’s desire for justice and a just world,” the second chapter says, but adds, “When humanity ignores or disobeys his rules, it has to suffer the consequences.”…
The book phrases contradictory questions and answers — such as references to the Israelites being slaves — in ways designed to favor Christianity, Seidel said. He said it also poses Christian thought as rhetorical questions, such as asking, “How do we know that the Bible’s historical narratives are reliable?” rather than, “Is the Bible historically accurate?”
“They assume the answer in the question and stifle all scholarly discussion,” Seidel said.
Dr. Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University who reviewed the curriculum at the AP’s request, said it lacked scholarly insight.
“It’s more of a very basic background book,” he said, adding that he found the curriculum “full of land mines” and used scripture from only one tradition, evangelical Protestantism.
It’s almost inconceivable that it could be otherwise, isn’t it? This is absolutely inevitable when you have people designing the curriculum whose goal is to get kids to believe that the Bible is true. And that’s fine if you want to teach that in your church, but not in a public school.