The Overall Level of Quality is Strikingly Low

There are some Christians who want to push Bible education into public schools. They claim that it’s not endorsing religion; it’s just teaching students about the Bible — It’s educational on a secular level!

One group taking the lead in this is the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS).

Finally, a religion scholar has investigated their curriculum and put out a report in a peer-reviewed journal.

Mark A. Chancey, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, reported his findings in the September 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

Chancey notes that the curriculum lists no authors or editors. He asserts, “The overall level of quality is strikingly low.”

Continues Chancey, “Early editions include hand-drawn charts and graphics. Most editions – with some improvement in the 2005b version – are replete with capitalization, punctuation, and sentence construction errors; factual errors; unsubstantiated claims; faulty logic; and unclear wording. Exercises are based almost entirely on memorization of biblical stories.”

The curriculum, Chancey writes, is saturated with a fundamentalist Protestant view of the Bible. In one section, the curriculum attempts to argue that 40,000 animals could have easily fit on Noah’s Ark with room to spare.

So you learn only what the Religious Right wants you to know:

In short, students will leave this course with the understanding of the Bible apparently held by most members of the NCBCPS and with little awareness of views held by other religious groups or within the academic community.”

They’re tearing down the wall!

Chancey also scores the curriculum for distorting Thomas Jefferson’s views on church-state separation and failing to discuss James Madison’s thinking at all. The curriculum, he says, “provides little evidence of the robust discussions among the nation’s founders about the relationship of church and state…. Instead, the curriculum offers students a tendentious and at times misleading history implying that the separation of church and state is a modern aberration.”

I’m all for Comparative Religion classes. Even a class about the Bible would be fine, but only if it was taught objectively. The NCBCPS claims that that is precisely what they do. They’re wrong. Of course, if they want a second opinion, they’re welcome to release their curriculum to the public. I mean, they want this information to spread, right…?

The NCBCPS also remained cagey about its activities. It claimed that the curriculum was being used in hundreds of public schools but would not name them. It also refused to provide copies of the curriculum.

(via The Wall of Separation)

[tags]atheist, atheism, Bible, Christian, Christianity, Jesus[/tags]

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  • Karen

    Hoo boy, that’s a shocker, huh?

  • Richard Wade

    factual errors; unsubstantiated claims; faulty logic; and unclear wording.

    Wait, is he describing the textbook or the Bible?

  • Susan

    My high school actually had a Bible-as-literature class you could take for one semester of senior-year English (they were studying the King James Version, I think). I never took it, though.

  • HappyNat

    My high school actually had a Bible-as-literature class you could take for one semester of senior-year English (they were studying the King James Version, I think). I never took it, though.

    I took this class as a senior elective in my high school. The class wasn’t too biased as I remember, although I was a good Christian boy at the time so I’m not sure I’d have noticed. I do remember the teacher connecting stories from the bible to other works of literature and the class wasn’t too preachy. Some of what I learned from the class led me to read more of the bible and therefore discount it as hogwash so it wasn’t all bad.

  • Maria

    it’s nice to see a religious scholar supporting separation of church and state

  • I doubt that they will go into the issue of different authors writing the Pentateuch. I believe they isolated five. Or is God just an impersonator, a Peter Sellers walking on water?

  • Huw

    We had a Bible-as-Lit class (c. 1980 in Cobb County, GA – Gingrich land). A lot of the “real Christians” didn’t like it because it compared the Bible to other texts in a “world-lit” sense: looking for sources, understanding the culture, etc. I seem to remember it was one semester long. I’d think that such classes would still be a threat to the uber-pious because they encourage folks to think about the text in the same way one thinks about Shakespeare or John Donne.