The separation of church and state is necessary to protect the state and to protect the church. The “Bible” classes in Texas public schools seem to be doing grave harm to both.
What’s being taught in these Bible classes has about as much to do with the actual Bible as 1066 and All That has to do with actual history.
I mean that precisely.
The comic conceit of Sellar and Yeatman’s classic garbling of “memorable” British history is that it’s not a history book, but rather an anthology of what people who weren’t really paying attention in school might incorrectly half-remember from history class. It’s full of mistakes, misapprehensions and mondegreens — not history itself, but what people who know a very little bit about history assume or guess might be true. It’s history dimly recalled and then embellished and rewritten by people trying to bluff their way into appearing to be experts.
That’s exactly the sort of thing they’re teaching in Texas schools about the Bible.
Quite possibly because that’s also the sort of thing they’re teaching in Texas churches about the Bible.
In the Dalhart Independent School District, for example, one student information sheet included the following information: “Since God is perfect and infallible, an inspired book is absolutely infallible and errorless in its facts and doctrines as presented in the original manuscript” (pg. 28).
In the Bible courses of Lazbuddie, Texas, students will read the following: “We should have an understanding of what happened in Noah’s day if we are to know when the coming of our Lord is near. What are the similarities between the days of Noah and the days preceding the coming of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:37-39)?” (pg. 32).
In Dayton schools, students watch the Left Behind movie, fundamentalist author Tim LaHaye’s dramatization of the rapture and final days (pg. 19).
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• A post at Patrol carries the headline “Charles Taylor and the Politics of Secularism.” I read that and thought that Charles Taylor’s rule in Liberia makes a very good case for keeping politics secular. But it turns out the post is about a different Charles Taylor.
• Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., doesn’t seem to like the term “atheist,” but she’s “religiously unaffiliated.” She was sworn into office not on a Bible, but on a copy of the Constitution.
It shows how dismally un-Baptist we Baptists have become that this isn’t the standard practice for all of the many Baptist members of Congress. (Particularly since, as James McGrath recently noted, swearing on a Bible means taking an oath on a book that forbids oath-taking.)
• Jackson County (Ky.) Sheriff Denny Peyman says interpretation is for the wicked:
“If you take out part — it’s kind of like the Bible — either you believe it or you don’t believe it,” he insisted. “The Constitution, either you believe it or you don’t. Either you live by it or you don’t.”
Peyman assumes that anybody who doesn’t understand the Constitution or the Bible exactly as he does cannot be interpreting it differently — because he “believes” that neither needs to be interpreted. So anyone who disagrees with him about the Constitution or the Bible must not “believe” in them.
This is why Denny Peyman should not be trusted to read the Constitution, or the Bible. Or even a phone book.