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Texas Elective

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School board votes to add Bible elective

 

 

 

 

ODESSA, Texas (AP) -- The school board in the West Texas town of Odessa voted unanimously to add a Bible class to its high school curriculum.

 

Hundreds of people, most of them supporters of the proposal, packed the board meeting Tuesday night. More than 6,000 Odessa residents had signed a petition supporting the class.

 

Some residents, however, said the school board acted too quickly. Others said they feared a national constitutional fight.

 

Barring any hurdles, the class should be added to the curriculum in fall 2006 and taught as a history or literature course. The school board still must develop a curriculum, which board member Floy Hinson said should be open for public review.

 

The board had heard a presentation in March from Mike Johnson, a representative of the Greensboro, North Carolina-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, who said that coursework designed by that organization is not about proselytizing or preaching.

 

But People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties union have criticized the council, saying its materials promote religion.

 

Johnson said students in the elective class would learn such things as the geography of the Middle East and the influence of the Bible on history and culture.

 

"How can students understand Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper' or Handel's 'Messiah' if they don't understand the reference from which they came?" Johnson said. The group's Web site says its curriculum has received backing in 292 school districts in 35 states.

 

In Frankenmuth, Michigan, a similar proposal led to a yearlong controversy before the school board voted in January not to offer such a course.

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I don't understand what the problem is... the article says that they're allowing students to choose to take a class that studies the history of the bible if they so desire... How is this different than any number of other classes that study world religion? And how is this a violation of the separation of church and state?

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The class isn't teaching the basics of Christianity: it is studying the book in a historic fashion, which has no religious implications whatsoever. If one has ever read the Bible, then one would know that the historical implications it presents, not of religious nature, but of strictly "what happened", are valuable as a historic source.

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I was tested on the five pillars of Islam in World History back in high school, and it was a required class. Not that i resent it.

 

I dont see anything wrong with the class, seeing as its an elective.

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An elective means you have a choice. If you don't want to, you don't have to. End of story.

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The class isn't teaching the basics of Christianity: it is studying the book in a historic fashion, which has no religious implications whatsoever. If one has ever read the Bible, then one would know that the historical implications it presents, not of religious nature, but of strictly "what happened", are valuable as a historic source.

As a singular source, sure, but...for an entire class? The Bible is hardly the ideal text for learning about ancient history, especially history not in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

 

The beef, I think, is that because electives for other religions aren't offered, it could still be considered an endorsement or at least an implicit support for Christianity. It's a stupid idea. If parents want their kids learning about this, they should send them to a private school that will teach them. A public high school is not the place for this.

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As usual, I agree with Joel. The fact that The Bible is a religious text does hold some bearing, even if it's only a historical analysis. The religious implications can't be ignored. When the publically funded school system spends money to teach a class on a religious text (even if it is a historical study) preference is being shown. Now I don't have a problem with a class that studies religious texts in a historical setting so as long as it is not limited to one text. I feel that it is a violation of the seperation between church and state.

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I just wanted to add, let's be real here people. Why do you think this class was put in place? Do you think the school board is really concerned with The Bible as valuable historical text. There are much better documents to be studied if that's the case. It's an obvious ploy to bring Christianity into the school system, don't be so naive.

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I just wanted to add, let's be real here people. Why do you think this class was put in place? Do you think the school board is really concerned with The Bible as valuable historical text. There are much better documents to be studied if that's the case. It's an obvious ploy to bring Christianity into the school system, don't be so naive.

 

I surprise myself.

 

I agree with this entirely, but eliminating this class doesn't seem to have a sound constitutional basis. I don't disagree with the class, just how it may be implemented.

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but eliminating this class doesn't seem to have a sound constitutional basis.

 

Just out of curiousity, are you talking about the US constitution?

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Actually, yes. Historical study of religion has been found time and again to be constitutional. Unfortunately, I doubt this class will be implemented in an objective, historical manner.

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In any regards, I love to learn about religion and philosophy, so a class which examined multiple texts in a historic (or religious) background would be awesome. I obviously wouldn't accept all of the religious teachings, but I would choose to take the course, so I wouldn't have a right to be angry if the teachings I thought were correct were underrepresented. It's an elective, not the new English IV.

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yes, considering it is an elective.

 

Not very good with sarcasm, eh?

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An elective means you have a choice. If you don't want to, you don't have to. End of story.

That's what people said when the Supreme Court heard a case on prayer in schools. The Court ruled it unconstitutional. Granted it's not the same thing but it is still religion in schools.

 

I was tested on the five pillars of Islam in World History back in high school, and it was a required class. Not that i resent it.

 

But in your World History class didn't you study more than one religion?

 

Now don't misunderstand me. I do not believe there is this huge wall dividing church and state. That's a whole other debate. What I am saying is that the Court/people like the ACLU will say it is unconstitional.

 

P.S. The case the Court heard was Engel v. Vitale, 1962

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FWIW, my high school used to offer a Bible Lit course (that my former debate coach taught). They dropped it because of lack of student interest, but there were never any legal upheavals over it.

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FWIW, my high school used to offer a Bible Lit course (that my former debate coach taught). They dropped it because of lack of student interest, but there were never any legal upheavals over it.

Which sounds reasonable. I could care less whether or not the course was thrown out because of sheer lack of interest, but to be objected to on "religious" grounds is obnoxious.

 

Nice avatar.

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Which sounds reasonable. I could care less whether or not the course was thrown out because of sheer lack of interest, but to be objected to on "religious" grounds is obnoxious.

 

Nice avatar.

 

Yeah, that whole seperation between church and state thing is really bothersome.

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Seperation of church and state isn't within the United States Consitution. The premise against establishing a state sponsored religion is, but in this case, the state is teaching the historical value of the Bible, not whether or not it is religiously sound.

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Seperation of church and state isn't within the United States Consitution. The premise against establishing a state sponsored religion is, but in this case, the state is teaching the historical value of the Bible, not whether or not it is religiously sound.

 

:rolleyes: Yeah, because the first amendment doesn't count.

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That's what is in the first amendment: that the government will not establish a state-sponsored religion. Maybe you should stop the roll eyes and read.

 

EDIT: The only thing the Constitution says about religion is that:

1) No religion will ever be a prerequisite for public office

2) Congress will make no law respecting the establishment of a religion, or prohibiting free excercise thereof. (Paraphrased)

 

How does this course establish a religion moreso than simply teach the historical context of the Bible?

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