The National Council of Bible Curriculum in Public Schools . . . Lies

Ken AshfordGodstuffLeave a Comment

Every sentence in this post (apart from this one) was ripped off from Jesse Taylor at Pandagon; he did the work so I didn’t have to.

How does one teach the Bible in public schools?

Not like this.

Hundreds of miles away, leaders of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools notched another victory. A religious advocacy group based in Greensboro, N.C., the council has been pressing a 12-year campaign to get school boards across the country to accept its Bible curriculum.

The council calls its course a nonsectarian historical and literary survey class within constitutional guidelines requiring the separation of church and state.

But a growing chorus of critics says the course, taught by local teachers trained by the council, conceals a religious agenda. The critics say it ignores evolution in favor of creationism and gives credence to dubious assertions that the Constitution is based on the Scriptures, and that "documented research through NASA" backs the biblical account of the sun standing still.

In the latest salvo, the Texas Freedom Network, an advocacy group for religious freedom, has called a news conference for Monday to release a study that finds the national council’s course to be "an error-riddled Bible curriculum that attempts to persuade students and teachers to adopt views that are held primarily within conservative Protestant circles."

Here is the website for the NCBCPS: What’s very strange about this group is that their purpose isn’t religious and historical education – it’s explicitly and solely to get the Bible in schools. Where has it been implemented? Showing the rigor of a site that’s been around for at least five years, and a movement that predates the site itself…here’s a list of states. No schools, no towns – just states. Their course can be taught at any school in a given state, including (but not limited to) Clem’s 7-11 Parking Lot Educational Enterprise in Topeka, and that entire state appears to count as having embraced their ideas. Awesome.

The brochure for the program is a wonderfully poorly veiled attempt to make this seem mainstream.

The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) is returning the Bible to its rightful place in America’s schools and affirming its unparalleled impact upon our history & literature.

Now, the "return" of the Bible to its "rightful" place in America’s schools would, if they’re talking about a true return, constitute the use of the Bible as a reader and spelling book, not as a history book or text of indoctrination. I’m not sure who to tell this to at the NCBCPSRAOCWSAG (National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, Really An Organization Concerned With Spouting Absolute Gibberish), but America has managed to come up with other books since the early 20th century – many of them even designed to help kids learn how to read.

Following constitutional guidelines, the course emphasizes that the Bible is the foundation [sic] document of our society and is the single most influential book in shaping western culture, our laws, our history and even our speech. It is a lesson in America’s heritage.

So, the purpose of the class is to give a remarkably skewed version of American history solely through the lens of the Bible. Or so one would think – until you view the curriculum. Of the first 227 pages of the 269-page teacher’s manual, there are exactly four pages devoted to anything that’s not direct Biblical instruction – and that’s a section on Shakespeare and the Bible. For a class that’s supposed to be about the historical import and influence of the Bible, it barely touches upon anything that’s not direct Biblical instruction until you’re nearly 85% of the way through the book. Seven total pages are then dedicated to the Bible in American history, four to science and the Bible, and then 31 to Biblical art. For a class that’s about the Bible’s impact on history, a sum total of 15 pages out of the entire teacher’s manual focuses on anything that’s not simply Bible study.

Why would a supposedly "fair" curriculum be set up this way? Well, from years of Catholic school, the easiest way to make people think they’re of a particular faith and/or repress any natural questions they have about their faith is to treat the faith as entirely standard and undeniably a part of common culture. By indoctrinating kids most of the year, and then casually tossing in bare-bones cultural analysis that simply presumes Biblical supremacy, you’re attempting to reinforce Biblical indoctrination rather than actually analyze anything. Getting taught the Bible for eight months, then "finding the Bible" in tiny subsections of the course isn’t secular education.

The Bible is a critically important part of art, history and literature – that much is undeniable. But if you’re trying to teach a history class focused on the Bible, the operative thing to teach is the history. NCBSPS seems to be almost entirely focused on the goal of having the Bible in public schools, and barely concerned with how it relates to a larger view of history itself. This is a class on the Bible, not the Bible in history, and they can’t even come up with a good enough smokescreen to make it arguable.

I’ll leave you with this circular argument presented by NCBSPS on the legality of their program, which, like most everything else on the site, is less a defense of their own program than an attack against liberals who have problems with it. Remember: the Bible’s had an enormous impact on human civilization. One part of that impact is guerilla fundamentalists trying to sneak it in to secular society for purposes of pure indoctrination. Somebody might want to mention that in a school board meeting soon.