Mark A. Chancey: Bible curriculum favors Protestantism

Bible curriculum favors Protestantism

The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) tells school districts that its curriculum has been vetted by scholars, does not promote particular religious views, is used in over 370 school districts nationwide, and has never been successfully legally challenged.

Unfortunately, none of these claims is true.

When I examined the NCBCPS curriculum, I found that it was riddled with factual errors and plagiarized materials (many cut and pasted directly off the Internet) and that it promoted religious viewpoints most commonly held within sectors of conservative Protestantism.

A recent study of Bible courses in Texas found that the NCBCPS curriculum was used in only 11 Texas school districts last year, not the 52 claimed on the NCBCPS website.

If the state of affairs is typical of the rest of the nation, the curriculum is probably used by only a few dozen districts, not the 370 or more claimed by the district. The NCBCPS has been successfully challenged in court. In the 1998 Florida case Gibson v. Lee County, the judge prohibited the teaching of the New Testament portion.

The NCBCPS is best understood not as an educational group but as a Religious Right political advocacy group who hopes to increase the power of conservative Protestant Christianity in the public and governmental spheres.

I hope that if Moffat County schools offer a Bible course, it will be a more academically and Constitutionally appropriate curriculum.

Mark A. Chancey

Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Southern Methodist University

Dallas, Texas

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