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)

Public school Bible courses in Texas often promote particular religious beliefs as widely (or even universally) accepted. So it shouldn’t be surprising how a number of such courses feature a significant preoccupation with eschatology, the theology of the “end times.” From the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s new report, Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011-12 by Prof. Mark Chancey at Southern Methodist University in Dallas:

A Prosper ISD timeline on ‘Revelations’ [sic] … relates the fate of present-day Israel and the Jewish people with various verses: “Survival of the Jewish nations [sic] is one of the miracles of history and her greatest agony is yet to come. It was sealed in the book of Daniel 12:4-9, opened in Revelation 5:5, 7, 6:19, Matthew 28:21, 23, John 30:7, Revelation 12:12, 10.” The course explains that “the first time the Lord gathered his people back was after the Babylonian captivity. The second time the Lord will gather his people back will be at the end of the age.” Students in this course are taught that they themselves may be living in the last days. A discussion of the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 suggests… Read More

Today we offer another example of what Texas students are learning in their public school Bible classes. A number of these classes incorporate pseudoscience, especially when it comes to promoting creationism. Suggestions that the biblical creation story is literally true are not uncommon. Neither are attempts to show that the Bible’s account can be reconciled with modern science.

In this example from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s new report, Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011-12 by Prof. Mark Chancey at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, students in the Ector County Independent School District in Odessa are asked to match the theories on the left with the descriptions on the right.

It’s one thing to teach students in such classes that some people believe the Bible’s creation story is true but that such views are not shared by others. But that’s not what this Ector County exercise is doing. This exercise presumes the biblical creation story is true while suggesting that there are valid “theories” about the specifics. Moreover, scientific theories about the formation of the universe and about the development of life on Earth are… Read More

What are Texas students learning about Judaism in their public school Bible courses? Often these courses present Judaism as flawed and incomplete — incomplete without Jesus. Even worse, perhaps, are those courses that portray — intentionally or not — Jews as responsible for the death of Jesus. Such portrayals were long used to justify the persecution of Jews in Christian society.

Here’s an excerpt from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s new report, Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011-12 by Prof. Mark Chancey at Southern Methodist University in Dallas:

(T)he deicide motif is explicit in an essay distributed to students in Dalhart ISD. A handout taken from raptureready.com attempts to incorporate Daniel 9:24-27 into detailed calculations about history’s steady progression towards the end of the age. “No prophecy in all of Scripture is more critical to our understanding of the end times than these four verses,” according to the article. Expounding on Daniel’s 9:26’s reference to the “messiah” being “cut off,” it explains:

“It wasn’t the killing [of] the Messiah that put the Jews at odds with God. After all He came to die for them. No. It’s that in killing Him,… Read More

Here’s another example of what students are learning in Texas public school Bible courses. Looks more like Sunday School, yes? Nope. This PowerPoint slide is from the Ector County Independent School Districts in Odessa.

From the above PowerPoint slide:

Sad to say mainstream anti-God media do not portray these true facts in the light of faith

But prefer to sceptically [sic] doubt such archaeological proofs to the veracity & historicity of the Biblical account, one of the most accurate history books in the world

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:5)

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s new report — Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011-12 by Prof. Mark Chancey at Southern Methodist University in Dallas — includes many other examples of the Bible portrayed as an inerrant history textbook in Texas schools. You can read more about the report here  and here. Our previous reports on public school Bible classes are here and here.… Read More

What are Texas students learning in their public school courses about the Bible? Here’s an excerpt from instructional materials used in Bible courses taught in two school districts:

The long-discredited claim that racial diversity today can be traced back to Noah’s sons — and particularly the supposed link between his cursed son Ham and “African races” — was a justification for slavery and has been a foundational component of racism. The two Texas school districts don’t appear to tie this concept to slavery and racist ideology, but it’s stunning that this “theory” of racial origins is part of instructional materials used in any classroom today.

Read more here about a new Texas Freedom Network Education Fund report on the widespread problems in public school Bible courses in Texas — Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011-12, authored by Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Our previous reports on public school Bible classes are here and here.… Read More