Public and charter schools throughout the state have been straying from a 2007 state law regulating how Bible courses may be taught constitutionally, according to a study put out by the Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan watchdog organization. Of the 57 school districts and three charter schools that feature Bible courses in their curriculum, only 11 were deemed “most successful,” indicating sufficient constitutionality.
House Bill 1287 requires attention be paid in the classroom to the Old and New Testaments to demonstrate their influence on history and literature; it also permits courses taught purely on the Bible, provided they present the text without religious bias. As the Austin American-Statesman reported, the TFN claims the bill “was toothless” because its curriculum requirements were vague and it did not offer adequate training for teachers.
The 81-page study, authored by Southern Methodist University religion professor Mark Chancey, includes recommendations for how the law could be more productive. Chancey calls for detailed curriculum standards, in-house training for teachers, and closer monitoring of schools’ Bible courses. He also shares how religious bias played out in classrooms across the state. Here are some notable examples:
Chancey observed that many courses were taught with a distinct sectarian bias, most often conservative Protestantism.
Example: Belton ISD uses the NIV Study Bible, a Protestant translation