More Red Flags About Oklahoma Bible Course

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.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kevin Kehres

    If I could offer a simple solution to the problem…

    Keep the course, but require that it be taught by an atheist.

    Oh my…

  • eric

    “This is not about a denomination, or a religion, it’s about a book,”

    Um, several of the major Christian sects have diffeent bibles. Protestant, RCC, Orthodox. Unless you plan on doing a comparative analysis of the different Bibles, then its safe to say that by picking one book you did make it about a denomination.

  • Kevin Kehres

    In fact, I’d start a course about the bible by exploring the Genesis myth. I’d ask the students to explore the myth, compare it against other creation myths of other religions and traditions, and then contrast those myths with what scientists tell us is observably true about the universe and its inception, the origin of the solar system, and the formation of Earth. (Hint: Earth wasn’t created “in the beginning”.)

    I’d also ask the students to journal about non-church-related interactions where the bible or bible verses were mentioned. Such as a bible-based category of Jeopardy!, etc.

    I think it would be fun. Probably not what the Hobby Lobby folks had in mind, though.

  • dingojack

    Kevin Kehres – your suggestion would neatly fulfil their stated purpose

    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.”

    :) Dingo

  • Kevin Kehres

    @2;

    That would be fun, too. Bible Gateway is fantastic, because you can get pretty much every translation of the bible instantly for comparative purposes. And what parent would object to the use of the internet to study the bible? (Well, I do know quite a few, so I’m dissembling; but there you go.)

    In fact, it would be a lot of fun to come up with the list of each kid’s religion and the specific bible used by that church. While there would be some KJVs, I’m sure there would be plenty of other fodder. Heck, with any luck, there would be a Koran in there as well. THAT would be fun!

    Then you’d compare the 10 Commandments across the different bibles of the religions of those kids. And then compare those against the Code of Hammurabi, and other ancient codes of conduct. You could even get a little history into the mix, by dating the earliest appearance of the various codes. (Hint: the Big Ten is a fairly late entrant.)

    It would be an eye-opener, for sure.

  • raven

    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.

    The high point of American theocracy was the Puritan’s murder of 25 alleged witches at Salem, Massachusetts. They also killed a few heretics, Quakers and Unitarians.

    It was bad enough that Roger Williams founded Rhode Island on the basis of religious freedom and getting away from the Puritans.

    And in the end, it didn’t do anything for US xianity. The Puritans eventually disappeared and no one missed them.

    I doubt that the Green/Hobby Lobby bible indoctrination course will teach any of that.

  • raven

    The Hobby Lobby creep, Steven Green is a power mad theocat.

    1. He has money. The guy is worth $5 billion or so.

    2. Now he wants power. No point in being ultra-rich if all you can do is buy lots of stuff.

    The birth control case is a red herring. He really doesn’t much care whether his employees use birth control and he knows he can’t stop them. Green himself only has three kids.

    It’s all about asserting xian privilege however he can.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    raven “The Puritans eventually disappeared and no one missed them.”

    They’re still here.

  • raven

    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.”…

    “When humanity ignores or disobeys his rules, it has to suffer the consequences.”… Such as god inventing genocide and killing everyone but 8 people. Actually, the OT god is a monster.

    I’m sure there will be a court case over this. It’s pure Oogedy Boogedy fundie xian drivel barely disguised as a course about the bible.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Modusoperandi @ # 8: They’re still here.

    And they now advertise on FreeThoughtBlogs.com!

  • lldayo

    If I could offer a simple solution to the problem…

    Keep the course, but require that it be taught by an atheist.

    Oh my…

    Those last two words immediately made me think that George Takei would be awesome as a teacher for this class!

  • arakasi

    It does need to be said that the Pilgrims had already escaped religious persecution by fleeing to the Netherlands, where they could worship any way they pleased. Unfortunately for them, this meant that they couldn’t force the next generation to follow the sect. Rather than let the sect fade into irrelevance, they decamped for North America, where they could set up their own little community.

    So the Pilgrims didn’t found Plymouth Colony to escape persecution, they did so in order to inflict it upon every else.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    “When humanity ignores or disobeys his rules, it has to suffer the consequences.”

    We know they’re not going down “denominational, religious-type roads” because they didn’t capitalize “his”.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    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.

    It’s legal, but I wouldn’t describe it as “fine”. Instead I describe religious indoctrination practiced even by the mainline churches as a particularly insidious form of child abuse. Abuse that’s protected since we protect the rights of parents over children in many regards, this being one of them.

  • busterggi

    “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.”

    And it will include the forcable conversation & persecution of the First Nations people already in residence too, right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730511544 billdaniels

    I would love to see any statistics that would show why each immigrant to what is now the United States came here. I would imagine the people who came here to avoid religious persecution would be much smaller than the fundies would have us believe.

    This is statistically meaningless but my ancestors came from England, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany. They call came here to make money.

  • steve78b

    I’d love to teach a bible class in a school. I’d simply have them read the whole bible during the year and take simple tests on it along the way. After all the blood and double dealings I think they’d understand that it is a load of malarkey. And make the tests factual. How many animals of each kind on Noah’s ark? Why did Isaiah tell the king to ask God for a sign? What was the name of the kid actually born in that story? Simple ones like that that have two different answers in the bible.

    I support bible reading. It makes more atheists.

    Steve in OK …… unfortunately….