Religious Freedom

The Texas Freedom Network supports the constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state, which protects the right of all Americans to practice the faith of their choice, or none at all, free of government interference.

Unfortunately, efforts to knock down that wall are a constant in Texas. Politicians and activists continually work to impose their views on others, especially around issues like abortion and access to contraception. And in a distortion of the principle of religious freedom, far-right groups have supported legislative efforts to allow individuals to use religion as an excuse to ignore laws they might not like and even as a weapon to discriminate against others.

Resources

Prayer in Public Schools: A Primer (2001 report)

The Texas Faith-Based Initiative (2002 report)NDOP_Report_2005_Revised

A Report on The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (2005 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion: Teaching the Bible in Texas Public Schools (2006 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion II (2013 report)

Can This Class Be Saved? The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Public School Bible Curriculum (2014 report)

How inappropriate for public schools is the new Bible course curriculum from Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green? As Mark Chancey, a biblical scholar at Southern Methodist University, points out in his review of The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact, the curriculum echoes Green’s belief in the Bible’s complete literal and historical accuracy. From Prof. Chancey’s review:

The curriculum … follows Green’s lead by strongly affirming the Bible’s complete accuracy. For example, it presents Adam, Eve, and all other biblical characters unambiguously as historical personages. It frames stories of God’s interactions with various characters in such a way as to suggest that those passages, too, reflect historical events. (“Was Moses mentally unstable? No. His titanic swings of emotion and behavior sprang from his special call to stand in the gap between God and the people.”) “Travel through Time” sections found throughout the book encourage students to read biblical passages not only as reflections of the ancient cultures that produced them, but also as accurate historical accounts. The book also unquestioningly affirms traditional claims about the authorship of biblical books (i.e., Mosaic authorship of the Torah) without alerting students to the fact that much of the… Read More

Christian Creationists believe the Bible’s Genesis story of creation — that God created life, Earth and the rest of the universe in six days — is literally true. That certainly is not the belief of all or even most Christians (or Jews). Even so, SMU biblical scholar Mark Chancey points out that the new Bible curriculum from Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, would teach public school students that science actually backs up the Genesis creation story.

From Chancey’s review of The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact:

At one point, Albert Einstein makes a surprising appearance to shore up a biblical story’s seeming inconsistency. To reconcile Genesis’s description of the creation of light on the first day of creation with the fact that the sun is not created until day four, the book appeals to the Theory of Relativity: Because “energy and mass are equivalent and transmutable” and “all matter is also energy,” then “could it be that creation begins with the advent of energy?” Such reasoning, it suggests, “seems to correlate nicely with the Big Bang Theory of creation, a mighty explosion releasing tremendous amounts of energy.” The section closes by asking, “Could it… Read More

Hobby Lobby President Steve Green and the nonprofit he created, Museum of the Bible, insist that respected scholars helped create their new Bible curriculum. But Mark Chancey, a biblical scholar at SMU in Dallas, questions how that could be true. Chancey found numerous errors and bizarre passages in his review of the curriculum for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.

Here is just one example Chancey notes in his review of The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact:… Read More

Yesterday the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released our latest report, Can This Class Be Saved? Authored by Southern Methodist University religious studies professor Mark Chancey, the report looks at a new public school Bible curriculum created with backing from Hobby Lobby President Steve Green.

Green, as you’ll recall, has been in the news a lot lately because of his company’s Supreme Court challenge, on religious liberty grounds, to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers include coverage for birth control in employee health insurance plans.

The Bible curriculum, which Green hopes will be used all over the country, will get its first test run in public schools in Mustang, Oklahoma, this coming school year. Green maintains his aim is to develop a Bible curriculum that’s constitutionally permissible in public schools. For that to be true, as we have explained in our previous reports on public school Bible courses, Green’s course would have to be taught in an academic, non-devotional manner that refrains from promoting or disparaging religion or promoting one particular faith perspective over all others.

So is that the case with the Green-sponsored Bible curriculum? Chancey’s report raises some serious concerns, and Green’s own comments suggest the… Read More

Hobby Lobby’s president Steve Green has sponsored the development of a new Bible curriculum, The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact, that he reportedly hopes thousands of public schools will adopt. The curriculum will be published by Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit organization created by Green to guide the development of a museum that will house his extensive personal collection of Bible-related manuscripts and artifacts. In mid-April the school board of Mustang, located six miles from Hobby Lobby’s Oklahoma City corporate headquarters, announced that it would teach a pilot version of the course beginning in the fall of 2014.

Today, a new TFN Education Fund report authored by Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, finds that the curriculum’s combination of a religious purpose, pervading sectarian bias and frequent factual errors demonstrates that this curriculum has a long way to go before being appropriate for a public school classroom.

We just sent the following press release.

The first independent review by a biblical scholar raises serious concerns about a new curriculum that promoters – particularly Hobby Lobby President Steve Green – hope will combat what they see as ignorance about… Read More

Texas Freedom Network

Don’t let misinformation go unchecked. Contact your board member TODAY to let them know you support comprehensive, fact-based, LGBT-inclusive sex education. Follow the link to make your voice heard ----> tfn.org/action-sex-e… #TeachTheTruth pic.twitter.com/vQWe…