Religion Returns To The Classroom?

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Commonplace in the sanctuary, the Bible may become common in high school classes across Texas.

A bill filed in the Texas Legislature by State Representative Warren Chisum of Pampa would mandate school districts offer ninth through twelfth graders elective courses in history and literature using the Old and New Testaments as the basic literature. Additional materials from secular and other religions could be assigned as supplemental readings.

Students would be able to satisfy one-half credit in history or literature.

Pastor Clinton Everitt says the Bible has worth in the classroom.

"Literature-wise, the book of poetry, Writings of Solomon, the Songs of David are just incredible pieces of literature," Everitt said.

He says if students read Shakespeare and Homer, consideration should be given to some, if not all of the Bible. Everitt says the Bible's influence can be seen in many places in our society.

"I don't think you can deny that our legal system has its roots, its basis in the law of God," Everitt said.

County Court Law # 2 Judge Jim Locke says the Bible, combined with their individual religious teachings, is the earliest form of law that many people are exposed to.

"I think that the attitudes that lawmakers have and citizens have and judges and lawyers and jurors are influenced by the Bible," Locke said.

If the bill is approved, the state mandate spells out the course must be taught in an objective, "non-devotional manner," and it cannot attempt to indoctrinate students. Right now, school districts aren't making any plans to add these courses to schedules.

College Station ISD Superintendent Eddie Coulson says the district will gladly offer the course if mandated, but they waiting on word from the state.

"I'm just going to take a wait and see approach to this," Coulson said. "This is certainly a long way from being anywhere close to a requirement for CSISD, so for us, it's something we will wait and see."

The state may decide if the Bible will enter the Texas public high schools, but the demand from students and parents could determine if these courses stay around.