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Texas school district seeks Bible course.

A Texas public school district voted in early May to offer its students an elective Bible course.

The board of education for the Ector County Independent School District Ector County Independent School District is a public school district based in Odessa, Texas (USA).

In addition to Odessa, the district also serves the communities of West Odessa, Gardendale, and Goldsmith as well as rural areas in Ector County.
 in Odessa unanimously approved the Bible class, but did not choose which one to offer.

"This will be an academic elective on biblical literacy, not a devotional," Odessa Superintendent Wendell Sollis told The Dallas Morning News.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Americans United or AU for short) is a religious freedom advocacy group in the United States which promotes the separation of church and state, a legal doctrine seen by the AU as being enshrined in the Establishment  and other civil liberties groups have advised the school district that any religion class must be objective and academic. They specifically urged school officials not to adopt a course promoted by the North Carolina-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) is a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of its 300-page Bible curriculum, The Bible in History and Literature, in schools throughout the United States.  (NCBC NCBC Naval Construction Battalion Center (US Navy)
NCBC North Carolina Biotechnology Center (Research Triangle Park, NC)
NCBC National Concrete Bridge Council (Skokie, IL) 

Critics say the NCBC curriculum is a tool to evangelize e·van·gel·ize  
v. e·van·gel·ized, e·van·gel·iz·ing, e·van·gel·iz·es
1. To preach the gospel to.

2. To convert to Christianity.

To preach the gospel.
 students. The group's president Elizabeth Ridenour has said its agenda is "to expose the kids to the biblical Christian worldview Christian worldview refers to a collection of distinctively Christian philosophical and religious beliefs. The term is typically used in one of three ways:
  • A set of worldviews voiced by those identifying themselves as Christian;

Moreover, the NCBC web site has included statements, such as, "The Bible was the foundation and blueprint for our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, our educational system, and our entire history until the last 20 to 30 years."

Americans United warned the school district in an April 26 letter of the constitutional pitfalls of the NCBC curriculum.

The NCBC board of directors and advisory board are rife with Religious Right leaders, AU's letter stated. Indeed, "the NCBCPS NCBCPS National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (Greensboro, NC)  boards have included at least two Christian Reconstructionists--Howard Phillips and Rus Walton--who advocate an extreme vision of government based on a literal reading of the Bible."

Ridenour claims that the group's curriculum is used in hundreds of school districts nationwide and has "never been legally challenged."

But as AU's letter to the Ector County school officials points out, the NCBC curriculum has been challenged in federal court. In January 1998, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich in Gibson v. Lee County barred a Florida school district from teaching the second semester of the Bible course, designed to represent New Testament stories as historical fact.

The court found it "difficult to conceive how the account of the resurrection or of miracles could be taught as secular history," Kovachevich wrote.
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Title Annotation:AROUND THE STATES
Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Previous Article:Federal court clears AU challenge to religious prison program.
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