Some Texas Board of Education members want public schools to teach a Bible curriculum that has already been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.
Four members are pushing a curriculum drafted by the North Carolina-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS). They circulated an e-mail to Texas school officials stating that the course “meets the academic requirements set forth by both the State Board of Education and the Texas Legislature, and could be implemented successfully by local school districts.”
Critics sharply disagreed. Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network told The Houston Chronicle, “They are promoting a Bible class curriculum that’s going to get schools sued.”
A U.S. district court in Florida ruled the NCBCPS curriculum unconstitutional in 1998 in Gibson v. Lee County School Board because it pushed a religious viewpoint. Courses on the Bible may be taught in public schools only if they are academic in nature, neutral and objective.
According to Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, NCBCPS’s curriculum “reflects a bias towards conservative Protestant perspectives of the Bible at the expense of other perspectives. Basically, this course promotes certain religious views over all others.”
Earlier this year, a public school in Texas settled a lawsuit involving the teaching of the NCBCPS curriculum. The settlement required Ector County Independent School District in Odessa, Texas, to stop using NCBCPS’s materials.