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Citizen-Link / Focus on the Family:
Texas Officials to Hear About Bible Curriculum

By by Wendy Cloyd
Senior editorial coordinator
Citizen-Link
October 28, 2005

The Bible and Its Influence: bibleliteracyproject.orgThe Bible Literacy Project will present to the Texas Association of School Boards ways the Bible can be taught in Texas public schools beginning today.

The convention, meeting in Dallas through Sunday, will draw attendance from 1,039 Texas school boards. The Bible Literacy Project will be on hand to introduce attendees to the "The Bible and Its Influence," the first high school textbook designed to meet constitutional standards for public school use.

"It was created to satisfy all constituencies involved in the heated public debate about the Bible in public schools," said Chuck Stetson, chairman and founder of the Bible Literacy Project.

The textbook, reviewed by more than 40 scholars, can be used in an elective course in English or social studies for grades nine through 12. It provides comprehensive coverage of the Bible's influence on literature, art, music and rhetoric.

Sheila Weber, vice president of communications for the Bible Literacy Project, said many Texans want this type of curriculum to be available in public schools.

"They do have some public schools that already have and academic course on the Bible," she told CitizenLink, "and some are looking for ways to do this better."

Weber added that the curriculum is designed to satisfy First Amendment standards outlined in a 1999 publication called, "The Bible in Public Schools: The First Amendment Guide."

"It's a consensus statement on how to teach the Bible in public schools," she explained. "(It was) signed off by 21 groups including all the teachers unions, the National School Board Association, as well as major faith groups—the National Association of Evangelicals included.

"The value of us having produced a student textbook is that it helps the teacher stay right on task and not veer off from First Amendment standards, nor veer off in other directions with their own opinion."

The standards dictate that you can present knowledge but not belief, she noted.

"Teachers should not promote belief but they should not denigrate, either," Weber said. "So our textbook comes at it with the perspective of tremendous respect for faith traditions which consider the Bible to be much more than literature, but sacred Scripture, sacred text."

Dr. Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, said until now, there has not been a Bible curriculum he could recommend to schools.

"Let me say how impressed I am by this," he said. "It is clear that much hard work and good scholarship have gone into the text. This promises to be an outstanding resource for public schools."

Weber said the Bible Literacy curriculum meets every standard for Texas schools. There are over one thousand independent school districts in Texas that could choose to use the textbook and offer a course in Bible literacy.

"That's the case across the nation," she said. "There are a lot of schools that can autonomously decide to incorporate this as a choice."

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about the textbook and curriculum developed by the Bible Literacy Project, and to discover ways to bring the curriculum to your school district, visit the group's Web site.

 
 

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