A Warren Chisum special: Bill gives Texas kids “right” to Bible classes

Cleaning up the mess left by the Texas Lege: Texas kids need help on history, Texas history, math, English and science, according to test scores. Texas colleges are fighting a wave of kids who graduate high school and head off to college without the key tools they need in writing and calculating.Texas Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa

But Republican state Rep. Warren Chisum has awarded them a “right” to get a Bible class, the better to avoid preparation for college, I suppose. No kidding.

Molly Ivins’ Ghost is pounding on your door trying to get your attention. From the San Antonio Express:

A new law soon will require all Texas public school districts to offer a Bible as Literature course if 15 or more students express interest, but one San Antonio public school has been offering such a course for more than 30 years.

Churchill High School in the North East Independent School District has offered the Bible as Literature since the 1970s, when English teacher Frances Everidge pioneered the course. Last year, Reagan High School, also in the NEISD, added one. New Braunfels High School has offered the course for a year, and Seguin High School will begin offering it in the fall.

Last spring, the Legislature passed House Bill 1287, along with two other bills regarding religion in public schools. HB 1287, which Gov. Rick Perry signed into law last summer, states that all school districts must offer the course as an elective at the high school level by the 2009-10 school year.

Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee the bill’s author, said that if 15 or more students express interest in the Bible as Literature course, districts must offer it.

School districts may not be able to provide the mathematics instruction kids need, but — By God! — they must provide instruction in the Bible.

If Warren Chisum were not real, Norman Lear, William Faulkner, the Coen brothers and the screenwriters for “Deliverance” couldn’t dream him up.

Chisum is at least up front about his bigotry against science, math, literature and other faiths:

Because the law requires a school district to offer the Bible as literature course if 15 or more students express interest, what if 15 or more students express interest in the Koran or any other religious text?

“The bill applies to the Bible as a text that has historical and literary value,” Chisum said. “It can’t go off into other religious philosophies because then it would be teaching religion, when the course is meant to teach literature. Koran is a religious philosophy, not of historical or literary value, which is what the Bible is being taught for.”

One marvels at the coincidence that Chisum never had to take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) — with history chops like that, it’s unlikely he could pass the test every high school kid must. (There is neither an education nor intelligence requirement to serve in the Texas legislature.)

I was unaware of the mandatory nature happy to hear the mandatory part had been stripped from of Chisum’s Folly. Nothing like a drunken-sailor-spending unfunded mandate from the legislature. Charles Darwin at least supported Sunday school classes with his personal fortune. Warren Chisum doesn’t have such ethics — he’s stealing the money from your property tax contributions to do it, while stealing education from the kids.

We need one of those New Yorker cartoons with some sage carrying a sign, “The End is Near.”

Cynical tip of the old scrub brush to Texas Ed Spectator (the blog formerly known as TexasEd, now in a new home)

11 Responses to A Warren Chisum special: Bill gives Texas kids “right” to Bible classes

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    We’ve already applied that analysis to the works of all the Greeks, to the works of Julius Caesar, and to many, many others.

    The Bible is the only book Chisum is trying to protect from such analysis. You’re afraid it won’t stand up? Or, you know it won’t stand up?

    Science should be for science, not scripture study. History should be for history, not scripture study. Your belief, completely ungrounded in any text or fact, that the Bible is more accurate than the Bible claims it is, only demonstrates the dangers of failing to apply hard analysis to any text.


  2. Oooh, Textual Science, we are shaking in our boots!

    Do you honestly think believers are ignorant of textual science? If so, there is a bridge in Brooklyn that someone would be happy to sell you. A Textual Science debate in the schools would be welcome since no other document in antiquity has the textual strength possessed by the texts of the Bible. So, whatever standard you apply to the Bible, apply it to the works of Plato and Aristotle. Apply those standards to the history of the Roman Republic, Julies Caesar, or the Athenian Democracy and let a candid audience see how they measure up. The part that has believers laughing you brainwashed liberal loons to scorn is we understand textual science probably better than you do. At my house of worship we have classes on evidentuary and presuppositional apologetics that go into topics such as how variant readings are calculated (as well as how intellectually dishonest liberals abuse the results), how scribal assertions and omissions occur and the techniques used to detect and correct those errors. Our scholars have documented and cataloged a lavish collections of manuscripts and textual fragments by which we can assess the fidelity of the biblical text that has made it into our era. We know the fastidious practices of the Hebrew and Monastic scribes and the effectiveness of their quality control methods and processes. Where other ancient documents like Plato’s “Tetraologies 1-6” only have early manuscripts that date to the late 9th century, biblical scholars have New Testament documents that date to middle second century, a gap of well under 100 years from their production in the late first century. The Old Testament, though considerably older, fares equally well. Documents found at Qumran pushed the earliest Old Testiment manuscript dates back a thousand years thus improving the confidence in the Hebrew texts immeasurably. The result of all this is the Hebrew and Christian era manuscripts and fragments do not differ substantively in tenants of faith, doctrines practices, or historical content from what we hold in our hands today. Facts are stubborn things.

    Now, if the Textual front was not bad enough news for you skeptics (people who never seem to be skeptical of the power of skepticism, I might add) we are now witnessing an explosion in the number of Biblical events and characters who are being confirmed with every turn of the archaeologist’s spade. It is too bad for you skeptics that the verification of Biblical history narrative continues to expand at what must surly be, at leas to you, an alarming rate.

    Finally, as for the power of “subversive compliance” theory, have at it. Our side has been doing it to the Darwinian fable for years. That is probably why so few thinking people, in spite of the decades long massive government school brainwashing campaign, think Darwin is anything more than fairy tales to salve the consciences and justify the moral failures of reprobate and licentious adults.


  3. Militant says:

    Gnome, if you seriously believe that Chisum really “intends” for the Bible to be taught as literature and only that, you need to wake up and smell the rotting democracy.

    And Mark, here’s text from the law that was signed by the Governor:
    OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS ERAS. (a) A school district shall offer to
    students in grades nine or above an elective course in the history
    and literature of the Old Testament era and an elective course in
    the history and literature of the New Testament era.”

    Here’s the legislative history (there’s a “text” tab you can use to view the whole bill.)

    The law, as passed and enacted, affirmatively mandates that the Bible be taught in publicly funded schools.

    Perhaps more distressingly, the legislature has defined the Bible as a history textbook!
    “(d) The book or collection of books commonly known as the
    Old Testament shall be used as the basic textbook for a course in
    the history and literature of the Old Testament era. The book or
    collection of books commonly known as the New Testament shall be
    used as the basic textbook for a course in the history and
    literature of the New Testament era.”

    This is stupefying. This definition can only have been adopted by literalist fundamentalists, and there’s no reasoning with such people.

    Whether or not you agree with this particular law, it’s passage is a powerful commentary on the motives and competency of our legislators.


  4. bernarda says:

    PBS has teacher resources on teaching evolution.



  5. Gnome de Plume says:

    Porlock, I love what you say. Malicious Compliance is now part of my vocabulary. And yes you are right about religiously brought up kids not knowing the bible. In my day, that was true for my Catholic friends, but in the South they have to memorize it. Perhaps I taught your daughter in freshman Humanities. It might have been in the class where after it ended I received a long letter from one of my students warning me that I was going to hell if I did not mend my ways!


  6. meson says:

    I surely don’t find any fault with offering any non-mandatory subject as long as the school can handle it. Older subjects such as Latin, Greek and Philosphy should be revived too. Newer subjects like computer programming can also be introduced as early as possible, as long the students can read.


  7. Starting from the last, with Gnome de Plume–
    My daughter had a rather different experience when she went to college, a decidedly non-religious one but with plenty of students who had a proper religious upbringing. When the freshman Humanities course got into some Bible texts, she was surprised to find that she (who had first set foot in church when she was 11 and we visited Westminster Abbey) was the one who knew something about the subject. There was also a lapsed Episcopalian with some knowledge, but the rest were a blank.

    As to the greatness of the literature, how about getting some kids to demand a course on the Tao Te Ching? Or Greek and Roman classics? In fact, half of my 9th-grade English class was devoted to the study of Greek and Roman mythology, an excellent thing to know if you’re to belong to this civilization. (btw, northern California, 1953)

    But I think this is a splendid law. I’ve never seen such an opportunity for malicious compliance, as I think it’s called. Give the little dears some *real* Bible studies. Textual analysis. Why it’s obvious that the books of Moses come from two distinct sources shuffled together. (and a third, less prominent one, and so on) The number of variant readings in the New Testament, and how they can be arranged in a tree showing which is derived from which. And where the text that Erasmus happened to have, on which King James is based, fits in: as a worse than average text.

    They’ll just LOVE some real study of the text of the Bible.


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks for the correction — and thanks for dropping by.

    What is next on your analysis or publication schedule, Mark?


  9. Mark Chancey says:

    Thanks so much for continuing to cover this issue. As it turns out, the article in the San Antonio paper is inaccurate in a very important detail. While Chisum’s original bill required schools to offer a Bible course, the version that the legislature eventually passed merely encouraged (rather than mandated) schools to offer such courses.


  10. Gnome de Plume says:

    “The Bible as Literature” is not going to go the way Mr. Chisum intends. The law of unintended consequences the way it is, he is going to have students reading the bible just like they read “Jane Eyre” or “Call of the Wild” or any of the other books on their reading list. A course like that is actually valuable to English lit majors who were not reared in a religious home, like my step daughter. She would call me from Smith to understand the references in whatever book she was reading at the time. (This was long before Gore invented the internet.)


  11. Qwerty says:

    Ihr allen brauchen eine Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung. Ihr gehen zu schnell, zu weit, und ihr haben kein Kopfwissen ueber die Dinge des heilige Schriftes oder alle andere Dinge. Haben ihr auch kein Wissen ueber ihren eignen Namen? hm? Und ja, eine von euch spricht gut und schwer beide; er kennt etwas, aber die beste von ihre Demokraten kennen nichts.


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