Christ Weary of Texas Public School Bible Classes:
So, let's see if the Rude Pundit has this straight: in public schools in Texas, classes about the Bible that are supposed to remain secular actually deviate from the historical and social significance of the Good Book and get into preaching? You might say, "Get the fuck out of here" in shocked, oh, so very shocked response, thinking that surely the open-minded people of the Toothless Creek school district would do such a thing. And you'd be wrong. See, according to a just-released study by the Texas Freedom Network, a progressive religious group, "With a few notable exceptions, the public school courses currently taught in Texas often fail to meet minimal academic standards for teacher qualifications; curriculum, and academic rigor; promote one faith perspective over all others; and push an ideological agenda that is hostile to religious freedom, science and public education." Yep, in Texas untrained teachers use tax dollars to "teach" Christian belief and nutzoid fundamentalist bullshit.

The classes are electives and are offered in 825 districts; the study examines 25 districts, because one can always look at such a sample of what's happening elsewhere. And what fun the students are having. What with being taught by their local clergy, watching Veggie Tale videos, and learning that the Bible is historically accurate and has never been changed. It's like taking a class on magic tricks.

In one school district, a lecture on the Book of Acts was titled "God’s Road to Life." It discussed, among other things, “Jesus Christ is the one and only way” (to where? Denny's? Heaven? Some unholy Grand Slam-like combination of the two?); “As followers of Christ we are commanded to tell the good news;” and, obviously, “The Good News,” which, according to the TFN report, "traces humanity’s predicament of sinfulness requiring punishment, Christ’s payment of the penalty, and the assurance of salvation for those who believe in him." It's sort of like having a sex education class where all you learn about are the many ways your genitals can get scabby.

And, oh, the evil that the courses confront. In Corpus Christi, one class was asked, "Why did Jesus tell the Jewish leaders: 'Surely evil men and prostitutes will get into the Kindom before you do'?" Yep, between learning that Christian belief supplants Jewish belief and that America is a Christian nation, the students should be more than ready to vote in Texas when they hit eighteen. But first they need to be tested.

Here's an awesome test section from one district:
Short Answer. Answer three of the following questions. Use Specific examples.
1. How is the Bible’s honesty a good reason to believe what the Bible says?
2. The miracles of the Bible are considered an argument for its credibility. Name one of the miracles in the Bible.
3. How is the unity of the Bible a good reason to believe it?
4. What does it mean to say that the Bible is endorsed by Christ?
5. Explain how the survival of the Bible makes it believable?

The Rude Pundit's answers:
2. Jesus never takes a holy dump.
4. Well, it's sort of like Wilford Brimley endorsing Quaker Oats. There's a man who needs a clean colon. And if we can learn to shit better because an old character actor shows us how, then we can certainly buy the Bible because one of the characters in it says it's a really good book.
5. Wilford Brimley seems to be surviving an awful long time thanks to Quaker Oats. That makes it believable that oatmeal is a means to an end. So if something stays around long enough, it must be valuable, like herpes or Courtney Love.

Yes, the schoolkids in these classes get taught such useful information like creationism and genetics. In one high school, the students "spent two days watching the video Dinosaurs and the Bible, produced by Creation Science Evangelism (motto: "Fred Flintstone is our hero"). They pondered questions like how it might have been scientifically possible for humans to live for hundreds of years. In Mesquite, a local minister teaching one course presented the idea that “Europeans, Africans and Semitic peoples all descended from the three sons of Noah after the flood, and that each group had its own racial characteristics, such as philosophical thought for Europeans and skill at hunting and conquering for Africans.” The Semites presumably had mad moneylending skills.

Yes, the TFN says, a "few" districts actually taught the Bible as literature or as a cultural artifact. Now that's a leap of faith - to say that high school students could learn something about themselves and the world by being willing to save Sunday school for, say, Sundays.

Correction: An earlier version said that only 3% of Texas public schools offered a Bible studies course. The real number is closer to 85%. Only 3% of those were studied. Thanks to rude reader Chasm for the correction.