Monday, April 28, 2008

Tennessee Bible Learnin'

Tennessee Senate Bill 4104 proposes the creation of "non-sectarian" high school Bible instruction courses under the guise of teaching history and literature.

On the surface, this seems like it should not really be a problem, but I think it is (surprise, surprise, right?)... First, the good things about this:
  1. The course would be an elective. If it were mandatory, it would be illegal IMHO.
  2. The course would be mandated to "(b)e taught in an objective and nondevotional manner with no attempt made to indoctrinate students as to either the truth or falsity of the biblical materials or texts from other religious or cultural traditions.
  3. It is directed to not include teaching of religious doctrine or sectarian interpretation of
    the Bible or of texts from other religious or cultural traditions.
  4. The course is mandated to not disparage or encourage a commitment to a set of religious beliefs.

Sounds good, right? Biblical references and quotes are all around us and it would do everyone a bit of good to have a frame of reference for where these "things" come from.

But the bible as history? Hmmm... problem there. Especially if "miracles" are taught as history.

And where is the oversight? I do not think that these tenets would be followed and I see no way of adequatley policing them.

Furthermore, why just the bible? How about an elective course on the Koran? Of course, Tennessee doesn't care about the Koran because this bill is just a way to sneak religious study into the schools.

Here's an elective course I'd recommend for high schoolers: Comparative Religion. Read, compare and contrast the "holy" books of the world's biggest religions: christianity/judaism, islam, hindu, and maybe buddhism. Learn about talking donkeys and flying horses. Read the whole she-bang for each and let the students actively discuss the things in these books. That'd be fun... but again, I'd worry about oversight.