Education

With a public school enrollment of more than 5 million, Texas has an increasingly diverse public education system. Unfortunately, that public education system is also the target of politicians seeking to privatize our neighborhood public schools and push a culture-war agenda in the classroom.

To that end, the Texas Freedom Network – while continuing to fight private school voucher legislation at the Capitol – has conducted groundbreaking research into what is being taught in classrooms on subjects like sex education and religion.

Resources

Broken Promises: Charter Schools in Texas (2000 report)

Broken Promises II (2001 report)

 

The State Board of Education: Dragging Texas Schools into the Culture Wars (2008 report)

 

Just Say Don’t Know: Sex Education in Texas Public Schools (2009 report)

Sex Education in Public Schools: Progress in the Lone Star State (2011 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)

 

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

BIBLE CURRICULUM BACKED BY HOBBY LOBBY PRESIDENT WOULD LEAD TO PREACHING, NOT TEACHING, IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Biblical Scholar’s Review Identifies Serious Flaws in New Curriculum

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 3, 2014

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 the Bible among public school students.

“This is a classic example of preaching religious beliefs in the guise of promoting religious literacy,” said Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, who reviewed the partial and preliminary curriculum for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. “It’s hard to imagine this curriculum, with its sectarian elements, errors and oddities, was put together by dozens of scholars as claimed.”

Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Green, is publishing the curriculum, The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact. Public schools in Mustang, near Oklahoma City, plan to teach a pilot version this fall.

Chancey’s review reveals that the new curriculum suggests the Bible is literally and historically accurate, promotes faith claims as fact, and advances a sectarian view of the Bible… 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