Jesus is Going to Get Me a Job in Texas!
When I was a student, I took an argumentative writing class, and one of the essays I wrote had to do with this subject. Now it may surprise you, but I argued in favor of it.
House Bill 1287 by State Representative Warren Chisum, a Pampa Republican and chair of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, would fix this problem, they said, by requiring every Texas public high school to offer courses on the history and literature of the Bible as an elective.
While most people rightfully view Chisum’s bill as the Religious Right’s latest attempt to force Christian beliefs into Texas public schools, professors from Sam Houston State University and the University of Texas talked about how important an understanding of the Bible is for college students. In other words, with help from academia — usually supportive of the church/state division — conservatives shifted the debate from the constitutional issue of church-state separation to whether or not Texas public school children can adequately understand Dante’s Inferno or the first line of Melville’s Moby Dick (“Call me Ishmael.”) without knowledge of the Bible.
“What I’ve decided to focus on in my testimony is students who have come to me and talked to me and say they feel robbed because they do not have the Bible knowledge to understand the literature,” Dr. Darci Hill, an assistant professor in the department of English at Sam Houston told the committee.
Indeed, our students are being robbed, and I would love to see more educational focus on those issues which are so important in our world. I could get a job doing this, and infect young minds with my atheism, making baby Jeebus cry as I tear apart the "sacred" text contradiction by contradiction.
Teaching students about what parts of the Bible are "historical" and what parts are literature would do wonders for this country. I would be greatly pleased if students were exposed to the information I learned in Divinity school. There are two creation-of-humanity stories, for example. Abraham and Sarah seem to have journey to Egypt twice as well, and it's not really clear that the Red Sea of old was in the same place as the one we know today. The New Testament is also a fun place to exercise budding critical faculties- balancing the words of Christ with the deeds and concepts others say are his is quite enlightening. I am 100% in favor of students being introduced to all the logical fallacies, contradictions, and impossibilities in Biblical "history." And as literature, I agree that the Bible is an essential document in Western thought, and an understanding of it as a literary antecedent is an important part of a good education.
Now, using that same logic, it's clear that schools should also be teaching the Koran and Torah. We're at war with the Islamofascists, right? It's the most important war since WWII, right? How can we defeat the enemy if we don't understand them? Mandatory Arabic classes wouldn't be a bad idea either. And as a mostly white nation, should we also learn about the history and literature of the early Aryans? That means the religious documents of the Persians and Indians need to be in the classroom. China is our biggest economic threat and partner, so we better start teaching Buddhism and at least give our students a little exposure to Confucian thought as well.
Of course, American theocrats won't agree with this logic. And lest you thought that the passel of academics giving advice were listened to by the Texan legislators, let me offer this proof that they are really only about fundie indoctrination with your tax dollars:
For something billed as essential college preparation, Chisum’s bill mandates not only that the Bible itself be used as the primary text for the course — something several witnesses cautioned against — but that each school be allowed to design their own curriculum for teaching the elective course.
A study provided to the committee by the non-partisan Texas Freedom Network, a group that monitors the Religious Right in Texas, showed that of 25 schools who taught Bible courses in Texas in recent years, only three did better than what could easily be called a half-assed job. One school actually used the popular childrens’ video series Veggie Tales to help teach the class. Under Chisum’s bill, schools would be free to determine what may be taught in the class and even who is qualified to teach it (as you read this, the telephones of Baptist ministers are probably ringing off the hook).
Right. So much for history being taught by history experts and literature by people educated in literature. Texan children can look forward to every underemployed, mail-order ordained "minister" popping in their classrooms and regaling them with storys of how Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs and of Jesus the Action Figure returning in 2020 to smite Jews and Muslims with his laser powers.
...it is depressing to realize that all this time and money are being thrown away on the question of how much superstition we need to pour into young minds. Other countries are laughing at us, as the next generations of Americans is robbed of any chance of being competitive and innovative in an increasingly technological world. But I'm sure, as their property is forclosed and sold to Chinese and Indian investors, Americans will entertain their new masters with amusing tales of when Santa and the Easter bunny had a magic baby made of chocolate who comes down from heaven every Friday to ensure the right football teams win.