Texas public schools want to teach Bible stories. Should they?

(NewsNation) — Texas Republicans are debating whether to redesign elementary curriculum to include Bible stories.

The move to infuse those stories into everyday language arts lessons for kindergarten through fifth grade could be set into motion as soon as August 2025 if the state Board of Education gives its approval. Schools would receive an additional $60 per student if they choose to adopt the change.

With the potential to impact more than 2 million students, the suggestion has garnered the support of some conservative Christians in Texas. But others aren’t sold on the idea. That includes the Texas State Teachers Association, which put out a statement reading, in part:

“Our public schools were created to teach facts to children of all religions or no religion, not to indoctrinate students in the teachings of selected religions … Public education is not Sunday school.”

Pastor JR. Forasteros from the Catalyst Community Church in Rowlett, Texas, agrees students in the public school system shouldn’t be required to participate in Christian instruction.

“In public schooling, we cannot be assured that every single student in the class is part of some Christian denomination,” Forasteros said. “In fact, (it’s) quite the opposite. We’re guaranteed that that’s not the case.”

In its proposed curriculum, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) said the Bible is central to American history, citing religious quotes and inscriptions on the Liberty Bell, within the Library of Congress and in common sayings such as “my cup runneth over.”

“It is important to note that including content from or about religious source material in these instructional materials is not for the purpose of advancing any particular religious belief,” the proposed K-5 reading and language arts program guide stated. “Rather, it is included for the literary and historical value of the content and its connection to creating a strong background of knowledge for students.”

The TEA’s proposal also argued the Bible helped inform bankruptcy law and claimed “many canonical works of Western literature cannot be fully understood without a background in Biblical narratives.”

State Education Commissioner Mike Morath echoed that sentiment in an interview with the publication The 74.

“If you’re reading classic works of American literature, there are often religious allusions in that literature,” he told the outlet. “Any changes being made are to reinforce the kind of background knowledge on these seminal works of the American cultural experience.”

If schools do teach Christian Bible stories, Forasteros said students should also have exposure to other religious beliefs, so greater emphasis isn’t place on one over the other.

“If we’re going to be talking about liberty, for instance, and we want to talk about the story of the Exodus and the liberation of slaves from Egypt, maybe we can also talk about some other religions and the sort of liberation narratives that they have, as well,” he said.

It’s not Texas Republicans’ first move to introduce Christianity in schools. Last year, the Texas state legislature passed a bill allowing unlicensed chaplains to work in schools as counselors .

Normally, school counselors in Texas are required to have master’s degrees and two years of experience teaching in classrooms.

To that end, Forasteros said teachers may not be qualified to teach students about Christianity, and doesn’t think they should be expected to.

“I don’t know what translation they’re using, and there are translations out there that are misogynist and that are pretty damaging,” Forasteros said. “I don’t know what kind of understanding they have of ancient Near Eastern mythology or ancient Near Eastern letter writing or Roman Empire politics — all of those kinds of things that go into teaching a Bible story.”

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