The following is from the July 11, 2008, edition of The Dallas Morning News. SMU Professor Mark Chancey of Religious Studies provided expertise for this story.
By TERRENCE STUTZ
The Dallas Morning News
AUSTIN – Elective Bible courses in Texas high schools received the blessing of the State Board of Education on Friday, but local school officials will have to figure out how to design those classes so they don't violate religious-freedom protections.
Board members approved the new class, which will be in some high schools this fall, even though officials are awaiting an opinion from the attorney general on whether the state law authorizing the course requires all school districts to offer it.
The board adopted general guidelines for the course on a 10-5 vote, disregarding the advice of several members of the House Public Education Committee who urged approval of more specific requirements to head off the possibility of constitutional violations and lawsuits. . .
But Mark Chancey, an associate professor and chairman of the department of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, said the board of education made a mistake.
"The good book deserves better than it got today, and so does the state of Texas," Dr. Chancey said. "These courses can be a wonderfully enriching educational experience, but they must be taught in a way that is academically, legally and ethically appropriate. Teachers need and want resources to help them do just that.
"Instead, the board of education is sending them into a minefield without a map."
• The Associated Press: Texas OKs standards for elective Bible classes
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