The Dallas Morning News is reporting that:
Some Plano students who are Jewish say they were pressured or taunted to pick up copies of the New Testament from school display tables during recent weeks.
Their parents have called for changes in district policies that allow outside groups to distribute materials on campus.
The Gideons International has set up tables offering copies of the New Testament. The district isn’t violating the law by allowing this — as the story notes, “a judge’s order prevents [the district] from excluding groups based on their beliefs” — but the practice does bother some students.
“Probably the one I heard the most was, ‘If the Bible touched you, like, will you burn or something?’ ” said Jeffrey Lavine, 16, a sophomore at Vines High School. “I sort of played it down as a joke and everything, which it was, but it was definitely a meaner comment than what we’re used to.”
Plano has been a hotbed of controversy regarding religious freedom, resulting in a number of lawsuits.
The Institute for Creation Research is launching a public relations campaign to win state approval for a master’s of science education degree from the Dallas-based group. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board unanimously rejected the group’s application last month. On Sunday the Austin American-Statesman published a full-page ad from the Institute. You can see a long version of the ad here and a TFN press release here. The group’s leaders have implied that they will also turn to the courts in their efforts to promote creationism as science in Texas.
Texas clearly has become Ground Zero in the religious right’s efforts to undermine instruction on the theory of evolution and to promote biblical creationism in its place. The State Board of Education will soon begin revising science curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The board’s creationist chairman and his supporters have already made it clear that they will insist that the standards, as well as biology textbooks that publishers submit for their approval in 2011, call into question the theory of evolution. Never mind, of course, that a sound scientific understanding of evolution is the foundation for the biological sciences.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has joined Jews on First in calling for events on the National Day of Prayer to be inclusive of all people of faith. A 2005 report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund revealed that far-right groups, particularly the National Day of Prayer Task Force, had hijacked the annual day’s celebrations in communities across the country. The Task Force and other Christian fundamentalist groups use the National Day of Prayer as an opportunity not for national unity in prayer, but for promoting their own religious beliefs over all others.… Read More