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It’s not like he’s announced his intentions in public, repeatedly

[ 250 ] April 16, 2014 |

An Oklahoma school district just approved a four-year elective called the “Museum of the Bible Curriculum.” It was created by the noted educational theorist — Hobby Lobby President Steve Green — who hopes that learning about the Bible in an “objective” fashion in a “secular program of education” will be mandatory in Oklahoma sometime in the very near future.

“I told you that if I couldn’t bring it in the front door, I was going to sneak it through the back,” Green might as well have said.

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  • Derelict

    As long as Oklahoma is also willing to teach the sacred texts of every other religion–which I’m they’ll be more than happy to do, right? Right?

    Hello? Hello?!?

    • toberdog

      It’s turtles, all the way down.

      • Autonomous Coward

        Heretic. There is but one Great A’Tuin.

        • Karen

          My sons and I read Terry Pratchett and the Bible almost every night.

        • ajay

          Heretic. There is but one Great A’Tuin.

          Someone hasn’t read The Light Fantastic. To the scorpion pit with him!

    • Lesbo

      As long as Oklahoma is also willing to teach the sacred texts of every other religion…

      Yes, because all of Western culture is based upon the Quran.

      • toberdog

        The idea that “Western culture” is primarily based on the Bible is remarkably stupid.

        • No stupider than being unaware of the strong Muslim influence in places like Spain.

          JenHOP makes me wonder if he grinds up lead paint in his pancakes.

          • Aimai

            Not to mention that even if you thought that Western Culture was a thing in the world you ought to grasp that it was in dialogue with both Islam and Judaism for most of its formative periods.

            • At the very least. See for example stories about massive floods.

            • DrDick

              Where would high school students be be without al jabr. Not to mention that it was the Arabs that preserved most of the Greek and Roman texts so beloved by Eurocentric idiots.

              • Hogan

                There’s a Pogo story where Albert tells Pogo that algebra got its name because it was invented by a zebra named Al.

                “But Al Zebra doesn’t have a g in it.”

                “Who said it does?”

                “And algebra doesn’t have a z in it.”

                “Algebra’s got nothin’ but z’s and x’s and stuff!”

              • Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī

                You can always count on me!

            • ironic irony

              So no one is gonna talk about the mormon.org ad to the right of this comment section showing Jesus as a blue eyed white dude? (He probably would have looked more like Osama bin Laden than people care to admit.) Guess it just shows how ‘Murican he was. Lol.

              • KmCO

                Yeah, i’ve been seeing that too, and it’s nauseating.

              • ajay

                He probably would have looked more like Osama bin Laden than people care to admit.

                About 20 years younger, but, admittedly, equally dead.

        • KmCO

          See, this is where I think we need to respond simply with pancaking. Anything more lends credence, however slightly, to Jenbob’s trolling. He’s not making a serious argument, so responding to him with actual data and legitimate points is a waste of your time (which, by the way, he intends). If we’ve already taken to simply mocking/pancaking Theo, let’s definitely not extend JenBob any further considerations is all I’m saying.

      • Autonomous Coward

        Yes, because your creepy little deus ab homine is the only religion worthy of inclusion (fuck teh jooz, ammirite?).

        And there’s not a limited number of school hours to include actually useful subjects (What’s that? Machinists need to know trig to have a chance at doing CNC at tech college? What the fuck’s CNC?!?).

        And a public school is totally the right forum for religious instruction (What’s that? A families should be responsible for the moral development of their children? Nah, fuck it, we’ll let the schools do it and just carp on if we disagree with it!)

        • Bill Murray

          does religious instruction really have anything to do with moral development?

          • Aimai
          • DrDick

            Nothing at all in my experience.

          • herr doktor bimler

            does religious instruction really have anything to do with moral development?
            Those who can, do; those who can’t…

          • does religious instruction really have anything to do with moral development?

            Seems to be a negative correlation, primarily.

      • Given the effect of the Qur’an (and its followers) on Western civilization, if the Bible gets 4 years mandated, the Qur’an should get at least one.

        The bad part is that the Hobby Lobby asshole’s pet fundies would write the syllabus.

        The good news is that al-Qaeda & friends would start blowing up Hobby Lobby stores.

        • Joe

          Will they support a RFRA claim from a taxpayer against their funds going to teaching of this sort of thing when it is against their religion?

          • If Miss. embraces this gibberish, I intend to find out.

            But as Tom Freeland pointed out at my blog, regular old 1A law should suffice:

            “I think the Hobby Lobby guy needs to make personally secured indemnity agreements for the schools part of this charitable package.

            “I think the Pontotoc School District shelled out just under $300K to plaintiffs counsel for 1988 fees when their Bible studies classes were litigated before Judge Biggers. They were assured by lawyers at the American Family Association that this would all work out for them; given they paid their own lawyer (plus something to the AFA), I’m confident that experiment in Establishment Clause litigation cost the district over $500K in late 1980s dollars.”

        • Karen

          I’m happy to report that here in the People’s Republic of Travis County, James Bowie High School sophomores in honors world history have to do a project in which they learn a passage from the Koran or a Hadith and research what Muslim scholars have said about it. They do the same thing for the Bible. Then again, we’re DFH’s so what do you expect.

      • ChrisTS

        No, but most of it, including Christianity, is based on Greco-Roman culture and mythology.

        • … I would need to be shown how the Tanakh is based on Greek myth & culture.

        • Pseudonym

          You’d think someone named after a Greek isle would know that.

        • DrDick

          I think the Germans and Celts had a wee bit to do with things, as well.

      • Orpho

        Yes! Because we have chocolate bunnies on Easter because of all the rabbits under the cross at the crucifixion, and Jesus was born in a manger under a Yule tree where Santa brought him presents, and our nation’s govt structure is based on the organization of the early Christian sects – everything but our wives in common.

        …wait, what?

        Hail Odin.

        • Peter St. Peter

          True story: it’s chocolate bunnies because those rabbits at the foot of the cross ended up covered in Christ shit.

          • Lurking Canadian

            It’s bunnies because Jesus told Biff anytime something bad happens, he wanted bunnies around so he could feel better.

      • DrDick

        Though the Bible is also a Middle Eastern text, much of it heavily influenced by Babylonia (Iraq) and Egypt.

      • Joshua

        We live in a globalized world. Learning a bit about Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, etc. wouldn’t be the worst thing for these students.

    • Joe

      I went to parochial school a few moons ago.

      We actually had a class that covered Islam and … want to say Buddhism. Teacher even had us say the proclamation of faith (“There is only one God, Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet, Allah Be Praised” — I kinda want to know if all the parents was aware of this. It’s amusing in hindsight.)

      But, I’m from Yankee territory. Basically atheist school anyway, you know? Seriously, if they ACTUALLY did that, it would be a good idea.

  • joe from Lowell

    The study of the Bible as literature and as a foundational text in western society is a legitimate field of academic work.

    That’s not what’s going on here, though, is it?

    • Pretty confident there will be a dearth of non-fundamentalist approaches. This should go down shortly after the curriculum becomes public knowledge.

      What I really like is the assumption that Oklahomans are godless heathens who would never teach their children the Bible outside of school.

      • toberdog

        Excellent point. What, are there no Sunday schools in Oklahoma churches?

      • njorl

        I can’t believe that any fundamentalist would really want people studying the bible in an objective way. I can believe that they don’t know what “objective” means, though.

        • Mike G

          They’ll make sure it’s not “objective” as soon as people stop paying attention.

    • Pat

      We need to push that any Bible literalist worth anything believes in geocentralism. If they can’t force their minds to accept that the sun revolves around the earth, and that heaven is just up a few thousand feet above in the sky, then they have no faith!

    • Josh G.

      Actually teaching the Bible in an “objective” fashion in a “secular program of education” would mean extensively discussing how, when, and where it was created. It would mean teaching that the Torah wasn’t written by Moses but by multiple anonymous authors, and discussing the Documentary Hypothesis and other serious academic theories about how it came about. It would mean pointing out that Isaiah is the work of at least two different authors (perhaps three), writing centuries apart. It would mean discussing how the synoptic Gospels interrelate, how Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark (and that none of these are probably the authors’ real identities), and discussing why these Gospels differ where they do – what theological point the authors were trying to make. It means explaining that the Gospel of John tells us little about the historical Jesus, but instead reflects the theology of an early Christian community in the late 1st or early 2nd century. It means discussing which letters from “Paul” really weren’t written by Paul (Hebrews, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus at least, possibly others). It means discussing how Revelation fits in with the apocalyptic literature of the age and how many churches rejected it until centuries later while accepting various other works such as the Shepherd of Hermas.

      In other words, an actual, objective Bible study course is the last thing that the fundamentalists could possibly want. What they’re really hoping, of course, is that the teachers will leave behind their objectivity and instead recite half-memorized lessons from Sunday School.

      • Autonomous Coward

        With this lot I’d settle for them teaching that Jesus didn’t dictate the KJV and that the Beatitudes do not include the phrase “I got mine so fuck you”.

        • Yes, that would be good.

        • Brownian

          “And Jesus gave them some coins and said, ‘Go now, to China, that thou mayest buy trinkets for much less than those made in America, and thou mayest greatly improve thy bottom line.'”

          That’s enough for today, class. For tomorrow I want you to read the story of the Chik-fil-A® Breakfast Menu, and consider how Jesus miraculously multiplied Chik-fil-A® [email protected]; rather than full sized Chik-fil-A® Chicken Biscuits. What does that say about Jesus’ attitude towards the poor, lazy moochers? Why did He choose not to provide any sides? And what did He mean when He told the multitude that until they took personal responsibility for the tailspin of culture in the inner cities, they had no right to complain about the Romans’ policy of ‘Stop and Frisk’ towards Jews?

        • herr doktor bimler

          the Beatitudes do not include the phrase “I got mine so fuck you”.
          Ha! I know that’s the central precept of Buddhism.

          • Tehanu

            And Aristotle was a Belgian.

      • Karen

        1. My sons and I were memorizing the Beatitudes. I mispronounced “peacemakers” as “cheese makers,” and now that’s the only way any one us can say it.

        2. Last night we read the bit about chasing the money changers from the Temple, which got the boys to respond “Thou shalt fight the power, man!”

        • DrS

          1. My sons and I were memorizing the Beatitudes. I mispronounced “peacemakers” as “cheese makers,” and now that’s the only way any one us can say it.

          If I recall correctly, the Pythons used that same joke in The Life of Brian

          • Karen

            I think we will watch ” Life of Brian” for Easter.

            • Aimai

              Have you never seen it, Karen? I consider it one of the greatest movies about religion ever made. Also the funniest.

              • Kurzleg

                Seconded. Smart, insightful and very funny.

              • sibusisodan

                Twenty shekels for a beard?

                Yes, Karen, if you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat (although I assumed, given your casual use of ‘cheesemakers’, that you had).

                Plus, it also indirectly inspired the General Synod’s Life of Python, which I love.

              • drkrick

                And unlike MPaTHG, they actually finished writing it.

              • Karen

                I have seen it, but many moons ago. My sons, however, have not.

          • Bill Murray

            but they really meant any manufacturers of dairy products

        • ThrottleJockey

          Spend a little time in Wisconsin, Karen, and you’ll know that the cheesemakers really are blessed. Three words: Cheese curd, mmmm….

          • But do it quickly, before Turdwaffle and his Idiot Minions secede, and the state becomes more of a smoking wreck than it already is.

          • Karen

            I posted this tale on Facebook, and in response, one of my friends said “Blessed are the cheese makers? And well they should be!!”

        • Autonomous Coward

          Additional to above, they should also include that “Peacemaker” in the this context doesn’t refer to a six-gun.

        • Hogan

          Oh, it’s the MEEK! Blessed are the meek! Oh, that’s nice, isn’t it? I’m glad they’re getting something, ’cause they have a hell of a time.

      • Crunchy Frog

        Bingo.

        Absolutely discuss the authorship of the bible with the known history of the time. That the town of Nazareth probably did not exist until decades after Jesus supposedly lived there.

        Mention the theory of the “Q” document, from which the authors of the gospel borrowed heavily (and that this was a common practice for scribes at that time – borrowing verses from other works in weaving their own stories). Note that there are two completely different types of quotes attributed to Jesus – the beatitude types and the war-like types – and that these two types are consistent with two different sources and that we can deduce the location of those sources.

        Given sufficient study any student who can think will have to conclude that in the period 70-200 AD it was common practice for scribes to write a lot of fiction that borrowed from each other, and generally meant as fables (term “parable” means a story that is not true but illustrates a point, kind of like Aesop’s fables) to support a political point of view. And that this is the environment the new testament was created in. And once they conclude that another conclusion, probably deeply frightening to most people in Oklahoma, is inevitable.

        • And once they conclude that another conclusion, probably deeply frightening to most people in Oklahoma, is inevitable.

          … You mean, that the evident 100% veracity of the Gospels is even more miraculous than previously thought?

          You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think. Same with these jokers.

          • Crunchy Frog

            I started that paragraph with “student who can think”. I suppose, reflecting on my own small town upbringing in the rural west, that maybe 10% of the high school students would actually qualify.

        • Lee Rudolph

          The whole attitude towards “talking” was (maybe) different thenabouts. Somewhat later, when Vulgar Latin was turning into early Romance languages, fabulare (whence “fable”) gave rise to the ancestor of Modern Spanish
          hablar, while up the road a bit parabolare (next-of-kin to “parable”) started turning into Modern French parler.

          • Crunchy Frog

            Thanks – I’d guessed, based on similar roots, that the two words had a common background but didn’t know the exact etymology.

          • I read that as “Vulcan Latin”. Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Star Trek.

            • N__B

              I watched Mirror, Mirror this week. Evil goateed Spock! The captain’s woman!

              • Tehanu

                If you haven’t read Diane Duane’s Dark Mirror, see if you can find a copy. It’s Captain Picard et al. running into their Mirror Universe doubles, and it’s terrific (and much better than the Mirror U. episodes of Deep Space 9, I’m sorry to say).

                • I just watched the Mirror U episodes of Enterprise, and I kind of liked them. Not least for the retro interior sets (and the CGI updates) of the Defiant.

                  Also, T’Pol’s tummy.

                • You would think a zombie wouldn’t be so sexist.

                  You would think, but you would be wrong. I apologize for my uncontrolled heteronormativity.

                  Rowr.

        • ThrottleJockey

          I don’t really see how ‘Q’ is inconsistent with a literalist interpretation of the Bible. If you’re assuming that the Gospels were written by 4 primary authors, and then reduce that to 2 primary authors, you’ve restricted the ‘degrees of freedom’ not increased it.

          In terms of Nazareth, settlements could have preceded cities in the same way that counties feature unincorporated areas today. Saying Jesus of Nazareth in 80AD might have been like saying “District of Columbia” in 177–referring to an area, not a city.

          I don’t really see how a scholarly, objective discussion of the Bible precludes literalism.

          • ThrottleJockey

            Saying Jesus of Nazareth in 80AD might have been like saying “District of Columbia” in 177–referring to an area, not a city.

            Sorry, should be: Saying Jesus of Nazareth in 80AD might have been like saying “District of Columbia” in 1776–referring to an area, not a city.

          • NonyNony

            I don’t really see how ‘Q’ is inconsistent with a literalist interpretation of the Bible. If you’re assuming that the Gospels were written by 4 primary authors, and then reduce that to 2 primary authors, you’ve restricted the ‘degrees of freedom’ not increased it.

            Not really, since the unstated bit of the ‘Q’ hypothesis that gets glossed over is that both Matthew and Luke make up/chronicle additional material that isn’t in either Mark or Q. You’ve actually added a fifth author (the author/compiler of ‘Q’) to the hypothesis rather than reducing the number of authors at all.

            (For example – the bits about the census in Luke supposedly aren’t in Q. And the bits about Herod killing all of the babies in Judea and the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt from Matthew supposedly isn’t in Q either. That’s the standard explanation for why Luke and Matthew give conflicting versions – because Luke had one tradition and Matthew had another and neither Mark nor Q said anything about it. There are other examples scattered throughout the texts that are unique to Matthew or unique to Luke as well – so you’ve got more authors in the mix when you include Q, not fewer.)

            • ThrottleJockey

              Since Q is a theory of a text, not a tangible text, we can at best infer what is or isn’t in it, no? And that inference wouldn’t wholly preclude the possibility that Q includes both those bits, right?

              More fundamentally once you have faith that the scriptures are the wholly (and holy) inspired words of God, you must necessarily have faith that those who transcribed it also were inspired. Fundamentalists know about the Council of Trent and the Nicene Creed for instance, and that doesn’t sway their faith that the Canon represents exclusively inspired texts.

              • NonyNony

                It doesn’t sway the fundamentalist movement, but it has in the past destroyed the faith of quite a few individual fundamentalists.

                Some people are naturally incurious and no amount of anything is going to sway their opinions. Other people find out that their fundamentalist religion is built on a house of sand and they spend years trying to shore it up and eventually give up and move to a sturdier faith that doesn’t involve the contortions it takes to be a fundamentalist (or, in the more extreme cases, deconvert to atheism). It happens all the time.

                It won’t stop the willfully ignorant, and there will always be plenty of those in the world.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  That’s fair enough, Nony. I personally think a faith unchallenged is a faith still immature.

                  Reading my first non-Biblical diluvian story actually had a much greater impact on my faith than either Q or this notion of multiple authors/scribes.

              • NonyNony

                (And I’m actually more convinced by Mark Goodacre’s argument that Matthew knew about Mark and Luke knew about Matthew and Mark and that ‘Q’ is a far more complex explanation for what happened with the text than is actually warranted by the evidence at hand. But that’s really neither here nor there…)

                • Lee Rudolph

                  I know what you did last, Sumer!

                • sibusisodan

                  There was an argument I saw sketched out a few years ago – by Richard Bauckham, if memory serves – which postulated that texts spread much more quickly and widely in first century AD than we generally reckon – frillions of copyists sending Paul’s latest onto furthest Cyrene, and so on.

            • rea

              the bits about the census in Luke supposedly aren’t in Q

              And the bits about the census in Luke are facially preposterous. What–everyone go back to where their ancestors lived 700 years ago for the census?

              • Hogan

                You mean I don’t have to go to Ireland every ten years? Well that’s a load off.

                • DrDick

                  In my case, I would have to multiply divide to Ireland, England, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Dawg knows where else.

              • Lurking Canadian

                To me, the bullshit about the census is among the best pieces of evidence that the gospels are about an actual person.

                If you’re writing about a guy who everybody knows came from Nazareth, but you need to show he’s the fulfillment of a prophecy about a guy from Bethlehem, OK, then you make up some bullshit explanation for why his Nazarene father had to put his pregnant, Nazarene mother on a donkey and trek to Bethlehem to get him born in the right place.

                If you’re making the guy up from whole cloth, you say he came from Bethlehem and have done.

                • Steve LaBonne

                  He’s a perfectly plausible figure in the context of that time and place- there were plenty of wandering apocalyptic preachers.(AKA madmen, for you C.S. Lewis fans.) So I’ve never seen any reason to believe the the Gospel character was invented out of whole cloth.

                • ajay

                  If you’re writing about a guy who everybody knows came from Nazareth, but you need to show he’s the fulfillment of a prophecy about a guy from Bethlehem, OK, then you make up some bullshit explanation for why his Nazarene father had to put his pregnant, Nazarene mother on a donkey and trek to Bethlehem to get him born in the right place.

                  But doesn’t everyone then say “What are you talking about? You don’t have to go back to your ancestral town to be taxed, everyone knows that. Don’t talk rubbish, man.”

                • Anonymous

                  Except that if anyone invented Jesus from whole cloth, it was Mark, and he didn’t care about Jesus’ birthplace, geneology etc. He makes zero mention of Bethlehem.

                  Matthew adds a (very typical) heroic savior birth myth up front that ties Jesus to prophecies about Bethlehem. He also has Jesus’ family move to Nazareth later on to fullfil some other prophecies (Matthew 2:23). It’s not clear what those prophecies are, I don’t know, but I suspect it was just to remain consistent with Mark.

                  Luke threw out Matthew’s birth story and came up with his own to give Jesus connections to both Bethlehem and Nazareth both.

            • herr doktor bimler

              reduce that to 2 primary authors
              One of whom was translating from the original Klingon.

          • CJColucci

            I’m sure you don’t.

            • CJColucci

              This was obviously mis-placed.

        • L2P

          And once they conclude that another conclusion, probably deeply frightening to most people in Oklahoma, is inevitable.

          Sadly, not frightening to bible truthers. This is roughly what they will say:

          1. Yes, that’s the messy story of how the bible was written.

          2. Despite all this, the KJV (it’s almost ALWAYS the KJV) was the inspired word of god.

          3. God made sure that the people drafting the KJV only wrote the literal, actual truth, thus correcting any inaccuracies or problems in the bible.

          4. All the contradictions that remain can be reconciled if you read the bible right; also, if the KJV contradicts reality in some way, reality is wrong. Most likely Satan was involved in trying to corrupt us.

          There is no way to convince someone who believes that the bible errs. It’s a tautology; if it’s in the bible, it’s true. That’s the whole point of inerrancy.

          • ThrottleJockey

            It’s a tautology; if it’s in the bible, it’s true. That’s the whole point of inerrancy.

            You can actually both be a literalist and believe in evolution…but, yeah, most/many literalists don’t.

            • Aimai

              What’s the point of an ideology of biblical inerrancy if you are going to stray from the path laid out for you by your real leadership? Biblical inerrancy is a modern day fiction, a theory, and an ideology. Its not a real thing. Even so called “biblical literalists” pick and choose how they will “literally” understand the many parables, stories,and images in their version of the bible. Just take the “biblically literalist”

              interpretations of Gluttony?

              Or Look at Fred Clark’s incredible body of work impeaching the literal reading (indeed, the very understanding of what is literal and what is figurative or prophetic) in the Left Behind series?

              • Aimai

                Sorry, I lost the link to the Rachel Held piece on how “everyone is a biblical literalist until they get to gluttony.”

              • Aaargh! How can you provide a borked link with such a juicy tease?

              • sibusisodan

                Fred Clark’s labour of love (?!) over Left Behind really is wondrous. Mainly because he so pointedly and correctly skewers how emaciated and etiolated the Left Behind worldview is: their fiction is terrible because their theology is bunk: it leads them to not care about people, at all.

              • ThrottleJockey

                Biblical inerrancy is a modern day fiction, a theory, and an ideology.

                Well the last 2 of these is correct. Its “newish” roots are of no import. Two thousand years ago Christianity was “newish”. Its a faith, not a fashion.

                Even so called “biblical literalists” pick and choose how they will “literally” understand the many parables, stories,and images in their version of the bible.

                I like Rachel. She’s a product of the SBC, though, and their fidelity to literalism is limited to that which supports their conservative political philosophy. Ask a SBC preacher where in the Bible it says, “Life begins at conception” and they’ll do a lot of hemming & hawing before they start resorting to extra-Biblical texts and even–gasp!–science to justify that particular belief. In other words they’re transparent hypocrites.

                After many long years of consideration I honestly believe that the best way to avoid letting your biases seep into your Biblical interpretation is to adopt a fairly 100% literalist interpretation. That is something that the SBC doesn’t do. They’re around 80%.

                Frankly, I’m distrustful of any religion that closely mirrors my own political or personal philosophy. That seems rather too convenient. How is it that my political philosophy lines up perfectly with the Creator’s? Am I that good? That smart? That perfectly in tune with Creation?

                If you’re actually literalist then you accept the bad with the good. Like the fact that Paul couldn’t care less about slavery, or women. And the fact that Jesus was more interested in spiritual salvation than in the tyranny of the Roman Empire.

                • ajay

                  If you’re actually literalist then you accept the bad with the good. Like the fact that Paul couldn’t care less about slavery, or women.

                  It is, or anyway should be, very shocking indeed to modern Christians that there is no outright Biblical condemnation of three of the most serious crimes that we think it’s possible for someone to commit: slavery, torture and rape.

                  Slavery was bad when Pharaoh did it because he was doing it to the Chosen People. Death by crucifixion was bad when it happened to the Son of God. But as long as you pick the right sort of victim, carry on.

      • the Torah wasn’t written by Moses

        Except for the part describing his death and burial.

      • Orpho

        Add in some discussions of the history of the canonization of the text for good measure, too, and include snippets from the non-canonical texts like the Gospel of Thomas.

      • southend

        Don’t remember who said it, but something along the lines of, “The surest way to become an atheist is to actually read the Old Testament”

        • DrDick

          I think having to read the whole Bible when I was 13 sealed my apostasy.

      • Aimai

        You lost Oklahoma at “actually teaching.”

      • Alex

        Interestingly, this is exactly what my freshman year religion class was like at a Jesuit high school in California. So, you know, there is some hope out there…

  • Barry Freed

    Oklahoma is suffering from a bad case of Florida envy if the last few days posts are any indication.

    • rea

      Just look at the map. Florida is much better endowed . . .

      • But kinda limp. It’s the humidity.

        • Autonomous Coward

          Nonsense, it’s the proximity of Red Cuba sapping the Purity Of Essence from Florida’s bodily fluids.

          • Aimai

            So that’s what’s happening to the everglades?

            • Autonomous Coward

              The only solution is refilling it with pure grain alcohol.

              • Aimai

                Everyone knows thats deflationary. Florida will end up pointing backwards at Texas at that rate.

                • Autonomous Coward

                  Not after we repurpose the Everglades as a Spring Break destination. With that much output of precious bodily fluids Florida will rise again until we’re tumescently menacing Bermuda!

  • Joshua

    That’s just what high school students need, four years of reading about the Bible. Does Oklahoma want any of its citizens to be working in any well-paying, competitive industries in the future?

    • Barry Freed

      They can always get minimum wage jobs working in the many gun-bars cropping up all over the state.

      • Orpho

        And armed with the armor of righteousness, they won’t even mind getting bystander-shot as the result of a bar dispute where one participant felt “threatened” by the others’ views on likely playoff teams.

      • Crunchy Frog

        Well you still need outside industry to provide some income to support the local business who pay those minimum wage jobs.

        The problem is that in redneck “self-reliant” places like Oklahoma the outside industries are either government-tax-supported big agriculture, big oil/coal/gas, or, as is often the case, the government itself via the military.

    • DrS

      Joel Osteen is rich as fuck, so there’s still one industry open to god botherers

      • I figure he stays rich by not making the mistake of paying any of the people working for him. They are volunteering for the glory of Heaven!

    • Lesbo

      Does Oklahoma want any of its citizens to be working in any well-paying, competitive industries in the future?

      Perhaps they could teach humanities or art, instead…

      • sharculese

        Oh good, Jenny’s still bitter about intentionally going into a career he hates and makes him miserable.

        • sharculese

          Jenny does the stink of mediocrity ever stop burning your nostrils?

        • ChrisTS

          Do we know what the Pancake Queen’s line of work is?

          • Hogan

            He’s a millionaire. He owns a mansion and a yacht.

            • southend

              Elmer J(enny) Fudd?

          • N__B

            He is a spite mine. Tiny men excavate the chip on his shoulder for sale.

            • Anonymous

              +1

      • Brownian

        Perhaps they could teach humanities or art, instead…

        There’s really no evidence that bible studies impart any humanity, or knowledge of art.

        • sharculese

          Jenny hates art and the humanities, FYI.

          He spent college getting a computer science degree that made him miserable so he could get an office job that gives him no satisfaction, and he carries around a lot of resentment against anyone who didn’t spend college making himself miserable.

          He used to just take it out in random outbursts about how we were all working at Starbucks, but as that continued to not work he’s shifted to just seeing study of the humanities as de facto illegitimate.

          Jenny also used to pretend to be an atheist, fwiw.

          • Brownian

            Jenny also used to pretend to be an atheist, fwiw.

            Don’t they all?

          • ChrisTS

            Ah; should have read down.

    • BigHank53

      Does Oklahoma want any of its citizens to be working in any well-paying, competitive industries in the future?

      Neoconfederates aren’t big believers in slaves people getting salaries, really.

    • wengler

      As someone who grew up in Oklahoma I can say “Yes a few. And no more than that.”

  • joe from Lowell

    Here in Lowell, the schools focus on writing and math skills.

    But what do we know?

    • NBarnes

      But what do we know?

      Writing and math, one hopes.

    • Gwen

      persisting in your godless Yankee lifestyle, I see.

      :: highfives ::

  • This sounds awfully familiar, but why? …. Oh, yeah, from the objective, academic Bible study classes required by my county’s school board about 15 years ago: https://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/florida-citizens-challenge-unconstitutional-bible-history-classes

    It took a few years, but after a few bad court rulings, the resignation of our school attorney and a superintendent, many millions of dollars and the entire school board being voted out, the plan was finally cancelled.

    And after that, we all learned our lesson and the county never had problems with the Christian right ever again.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      “…and Loki smiled”

    • ThrottleJockey

      And after that, we all learned our lesson and the county never had problems with the Christian right ever again lived happily ever after. The End.

      FIFY

  • rea

    An actual objective, secular course on the Bible would have the fundies storming the shccols with torches and pitchforks.

    • togolosh

      Came here to say this. Let’s talk about how some of the letters attributed to Paul are forgeries. Or about how none of the gospel writers was a first hand witness. Teach about the mess of mashed together texts that constitute Genesis. And to really confound things teach the Old Testament with reference to archeological evidence of things like consumption of pork by early Jews and the lack of any evidence for a captivity and exodus from Egypt.

      • Yeah, I think some readings from Bart Ehrman would be a great fit for this class.

      • rea

        They could take a look as soem of the noncanonical gospels, too:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Jesus%27_wife

      • Davis X. Machina

        Came here to say this. Let’s talk about how some of the letters attributed to Paul are forgeries.

        “Forgeries” is a bit aggressive. More like ‘written when there were fluid notions of authorship, and none of ownership…”

        The Hippocratic Corpus is maybe 85%, 90% not by anyone who could have been the Hippocrates — some of its contents were written by adherents of different, and conflicting, theories of medicine.

        • NonyNony

          Bart Ehrman makes a solid case in his book “Forged!” that this is a load of crap and that forgers wrote with the intent to deceive and lend false weight to their opinions by piggy-backing onto the good name of a respected authority figure. And that even at the time the practice was decried even by their contemporaries as contemptible.

          His arguments are pretty compelling in that book, though I’d be willing to believe he overstates the case (since I’m not an expert and I’ve found in a few of his other books he has a tendency to be more sure of his conclusions than the evidence he presents really seems to warrant).

          • Davis X. Machina

            I’ve read all of Ehrman’s stuff. He’s over-egged the pudding a bit.

            Appropriating an authorial identity to bolster controversial content from an otherwise non-authoritative source is what we’d call ‘forgery’, but I’m not sure there’s actually an ancient category that lines up accurately against the modern.

            The canonicity/authenticity distinction, for example, doesn’t hold today.

            • Aimai

              I get why you’d argue that, for example, about copied sacred scripture (as described in Ehrmann’s book Misquoting Jesus.) Definitely when it came to texts there was no modern notion of authority/ownership. Especially when it came to explications of sacred texts. But is it true that the ancients had no notion of forgery when it came to, say, a named or important piece of art? They had famous statue makers and painters and they, too, bought stuff that they believed to be “authentic” as to maker or to materials. You don’t think that the same scepticism that people brought to the value of real pearls over fake, or real gold over painted lead, they wouldn’t apply to real letters from Paul over fake ones? I’m curious. Its not my area of expertise at all and I haven’t read Ehrmann’s new book.

              btw I love the expression “overegged the pudding.” I can’t wait to use it.

          • You do find some folks early on dealing with the fact that different copies of a Pauline letter said different things – “Ambrosiaster” for instance, circa 400 – and that these differences were due to wishing to bolster the copyist’s theological opinions.

            The ancients weren’t any dumber than we are … less well-informed, sometimes.

    • DrDick

      Hell, just teaching the actual supposed teachings of Rabbi Yeshua would have them screaming about filthy communists.

  • Cheap Wino

    Great! Now we can get the true story of Noah out to those kids who have been so let down by Hollywood.

    • Lee Rudolph

      I don’t think that’s what Josh G. meant by “the Documentary Hypothesis”.

    • Bill Murray

      C’mon, the Noah story is so weak it couldn’t even be the first creation story in the Bible

  • I think I benefited no end from my Bible class. It is the most influential book in European civilization.

    It also left me with a knowledge of what is in the thing that is far more detailed than the jackasses who claim Jesus was some sort of kweer stomping capitalist.

    I was also at a strictly a-religious private school

    Assuming the curriculum survives a court challenge, I’m not sure a prolonged, detailed reading of the book will result in lots of good little Christians as defined by fuckheads like Green. Is there a money angle for him? Does he own a school book/Bible publishing company?

    • Kurzleg

      Assuming the curriculum survives a court challenge, I’m not sure a prolonged, detailed reading of the book will result in lots of good little Christians

      Which highlights the article of faith behind this little initiative. Plus, it’s an elective, so I suspect that most students who elect to take the class will already be self-identified Christians anyways.

      • …self-identified righteous Christians anyways.

        Tidied that up for you.

        • Kurzleg

          Can’t it be both?

    • Katya

      I totally believe that people should study the Bible. It is a foundational text of Western civilization. Truly studying it involves history, anthropology, understanding and analyzing a variety of literary genres, theology and philosophy, etc. I went to both Jesuit high school and Catholic college, and I took a variety of rigorous theology, Biblical interpretation, and Church history classes that were incredibly valuable.

      However, I highly doubt that’s what going to happen in OK.

    • “But teacher, what did the concubine do to deserve getting raped to death?”

      “God works in mysterious ways, Jenny.”

      • “Hey I don’t see anything about birth control -”

        “SECURITY WE’VE GOT A mouth SHOOTER!”

        • “The teacher explained to the police that he ‘felt threatened’ by the student’s challenge to the Bible’s literal truth.”

          • Kurzleg

            +1

      • Karen

        They’ll have lots of fun with Jacob, Leah, and Rachel too.

        • Hm. Did Leah rape Jacob? Discuss.

        • Two fun things you can do with an evangelist:
          1. Ask them to explain Cain’s wife.

          2. Say “The Song of Solomon; Rrrrow! [waggle eyebrows]”

          • Mickey Kaus

            Elisha and the Two Bears.

            • Origami Isopod

              GODDAMNIT

            • Pseudonym

              Are you sure they weren’t goats?

            • GiT

              Found on the google:

              “Given the challenge of the youths, their intimidating number which could constitute a mob, their veiled threat, the contemptuous attitude, and the fact that Elisha was the prophet of God, the Lord allowed the youths to be destroyed.

              But, God did not break his own moral law. The Bible says do not murder. Murder is the unlawful taking of life. But, all people have sinned against God and are worthy of death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). So, God had them killed according to the Law.”

              • Ronnie Pudding

                The Answers in Genesis site says they weren’t so young, and sums it up as follows:

                In summary, we have plenty of internally consistent biblical evidence that the events of that day in Bethel involved an unprovoked verbal assault by a group of young hoodlums—perhaps because they were glad to be rid of one man telling them what God said they shouldn’t do and didn’t want another one. They were old enough to know better, and they were challenging the credibility of God’s prophet, the only man who was there to stand up for God’s truth, bringing the word of life to a corrupt nation that had turned its back on God.

              • Basically, it’s the origin of the legend of Trayvon Martin.

                • Aimai

                  I can’t give this a plus anything because its too horrifyingly on point. But it does explain so very much about Zimmerman’s defenders.

        • ChrisTS

          Who was it that killed his sister because he was tempted by her?

          • N__B

            Jamie Lannister?

          • Luke Skywalker?

          • joe from Lowell

            Baelor the Blessed?

          • N__B

            Donnie Osmond?

            • and now she’s a replacement from the Stepford Company?

              …I’d buy that. well played, sir.

    • toberdog

      It is the most influential book in European civilization.

      I’m not sure I agree with that. No doubt it’s very influential, and as others have pointed out Shakespeare (to take an example) can’t be fully understood without knowing the Bible references, but there are other more influential books and texts.

      • The problem with “influence” is that it means too much, and therefore means next to nothing.

        • toberdog

          Agreed. And the problem with “European civilization” is that you might never find any two people who agree on what that is, either.

          • Gandhi’s answer won the metaphorical thread on that one. (Leaving aside whether he actually said it.)

            • ajay

              Gandhi was an idiot and the best decision post-independence India made was to honour his memory and quietly ignore all the bizarre Khmer Rouge-lite stuff he had come out with about the virtues of the peasant lifestyle.

      • ThrottleJockey

        but there are other more influential books and texts

        Name one.

        • Lee Rudolph

          This is bound to degenerate into a pointless subthread since there are bound to be a passel of incompatible definitions of “influential” out there.

          That said, I’d nominate Newton’s Principia.

          • NonyNony

            Euclid’s Elements?

          • ThrottleJockey

            Clever!!!

            I was quite skeptical when I read that comment, but you’ve made a helluva argument.

            • Lee Rudolph

              Disputationes non fingo.

        • toberdog

          A key idea (I think) in western civilization is the scientific method, so Principia is a very good start. Throw in Galileo’s Dialog of the Two World Systems.

          On the culture side, the list of more-influential books is very long. Start with Homer and go from there.

          • toberdog

            Concerning” not “of.”

            • Linnaeus

              Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, if you want to be exact.

              • toberdog

                OK, Chief [smile].

        • toberdog

          Here’s another more-influential book: The Origin of Species.

        • The Harry Potter Series

          • Or The Wealth of Nations + Das Kapital. Whatever.

        • Green Eggs and Ham.

      • GiT

        None of the books mentioned here seem more influential than the Bible.

        • Lee Rudolph

          This is bound to degenerate into a pointless subthread since there are bound to be a passel of incompatible definitions of “influential” out there.

      • Its influence goes well beyond literature. I’d argue that it drove European (and by extension U.S.) history. Or at least the bloody bits. And printing.

        • Aimai

          Yeah, if you specify Christianity rather than just the bible, which until the printing press and the appearance of vulgate versions wasn’t really in enough people’s hands to be considered the source of the influence, I still think Christianity/the bible come out ahead of almost everything just for the sheer number of centuries during which they influenced Christian countries and their culture.

          • toberdog

            I.e., one of the many shadings of “influential” would be “influential during history” or “determinative of present-day culture.”

          • Even once it was possible to own a translated version without risk to life and limb, the number of people who could read it was extremely limited for quite a long time.

            But their lives and thinking were still influenced by the Bible because the people in power could read it (or were advised by people who could read it).

    • ThrottleJockey

      I’m not sure a prolonged, detailed reading of the book will result in lots of good little Christians as defined by fuckheads like Green. Is there a money angle for him? Does he own a school book/Bible publishing company?

      I don’t know the whole of Green’s theological views, but I don’t think a thorough study of the Bible necessarily precludes views like his. There’s enough in there that you can read it and come away with totally different interpretations. Which explains why we have umpteen thousand different denominations. There’s a good reason it was used to justify slavery.

    • Aimai

      We also took an extensive bible class in my secular high school, reading the KJV not for its accuracy but for its seminal, poetic, value in understanding English and English derived culture and poetry. I think it was a very valuable class to have taken and I look forward to my kids taking such classes.

      • There was that but it also meshed very well with the study of things like European history. Someone figured that if we were going to learn about fun stuff like inquisitions, crusades, civil wars, and blood libels, we might as well be familiar with the source text.

        It was also relevant to the history of printing in Europe.

  • monkeyfister

    For a group that doesn’t like it “shoved down our throats,” they sure do seem to really like the “back door.” Wellm, I do hope this course suffers due to lack of interest and enrollment.

  • This will work exactly like its strongest backers hope. After all, look how nearly ubiquitous exposure to Shakespeare in high school lit classes means that the easiest way to make a fortune in the US is to start a Shakespeare festival. It’s like printing money.

    • Kurzleg

      Yes, but Shakespeare doesn’t have an ally like the Holy Spirit moving people’s hearts.

      • Only the hearts of the elect. Students who fail this class have more than their GPA to worry about!

      • NonyNony

        but Shakespeare doesn’t have an ally like the Holy Spirit moving people’s hearts

        But he does have both Thalia and Melpomene to move hearts and minds. So he has that going for him.

        • NonyNony

          (Along with the occasional appeal to Clio, though I honestly suspect she rolls her eyes more than she helps out…)

    • Karen

      A class that showed where Shakespeare quoted the Bible would be awesome, though.

      • Aimai

        That would be English class, wouldn’t it?

      • rea

        Some have suggested that Shakespeare, in retirement, helped out with the King James translation. One of those things that ought to be true, even though they probably aren’t.

        • rea

          The clue is supposedly in Psalm 46, 46 woprds from the beginning and end:

          God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

          2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

          3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

          4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

          5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

          6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

          7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

          8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

          9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

          10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

          11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

          • Just a Rube

            Sadly, it’s almost certainly a coincidence (one of those things that later generations, who really got into Bardolatry, invented). Contemporaries don’t mention him as participating, and he’s not the sort of person who would have likely been recruited.

            • Little Latin. Less Greek. No Hebrew.

              • rea

                Well, if I were organizing a Bible translation, I’d team up scholars with people who wrote good English . . .

                • It runs aground on the fact that the translators were trying to make it sound old-fashioned for their own time, building on the work of earlier translations into English. Also, according to the Wiki all the participants belonged to the C of E and only one translator wasn’t a member of the clergy, so it’s pretty clear that using Shakespeare would’ve never occurred to King James or anyone involved in the project.

                • Yah, they cribbed Tyndale too heavily to be terribly interested in what Shakes woulda had to say.

                  Nor can I imagine anyone so uncouth as a playwright‘s being asked to participate in a holy project.

                  (Leaving aside the scholarly suspicion that Sh’re was Catholic ….)

            • njorl

              I would bet that it’s an homage.

        • Lurking Canadian

          Besides, if it were true, you’d have another group claiming it was actually the Earl of Oxford.

          • Hogan

            Bacon Bacon Bacon IT’S BACON!

            • N__B

              Mmmmmmm. Bacon.

  • And there is the inescapable fact that the Bible is full of Jewish people.

    • cpinva

      “And there is the inescapable fact that the Bible is full of Jewish people.”

      they all converted at the end.

      • Aimai

        Or died in the attempt.

      • ajay

        they all converted at the end.

        Spoilers, dude.

  • Gwen

    Any objective study of religion would greatly increase the population of atheists.

    • Brownian

      Which is why evangelicals do not want objective religious study.

      • Aimai

        Yes, this is quite a hot topic on various evangelical or ex-evangelical blogs–first: the fundy colleges are petrified that their students might learn critical thought and start to question what they learn and second, they are right. Ehrmann pretty much lost his blind faith when he began to read his sacred scriptures in the original languages.

        • herr doktor bimler

          Martin Gardner’s thinly-disguised autobiography “The Flight of Peter Fromm” illustrates it too.

    • Mike G

      When I was growing up in Queensland (the redneckiest part of Australia) we had an hour a week of religious education at my government school.
      The only RI that ever interested me was a minister who spoke about the history and culture of biblical times, and the doctrine of other religions like Hinduism, and skipped the preachiness. I found it really interesting, and refreshing that a man of the cloth could speak intelligently and without polemics. But it reinforced my budding agnosticism, which may not have been what he intended.

  • wengler

    If this law extirpates the unofficial bible education I was given at my public middle school in Oklahoma and replaces it with something more than school prayer then perhaps it might be worth it.

    Just because you are a football coach doesn’t mean you can teach that the Holocaust was God’s payback for executing Jesus. Or make flashcards showing that Muslims are going to hell.

  • I’ve been to Oklahoma. There’s a church on every street corner.

    I doubt the kids are lacking in opportunities to study the Bible.

    • And, as my OK roommate in college said, there’s plenty of people there who go to church every time the door is unlocked.

      You even see in in the descendants of the diaspora from OK, AR, TX, who live here in Central Cali(fornia). 187 churches in a town of 55K people, according to the latest Census figures.

    • rea

      Well I never been to heaven
      But I been to Oklahoma
      Well they tell me I was born there
      But I really don’t remember
      In Oklahoma, not Arizona
      What does it matter

  • I think the Hobby Lobby guy needs to make personally secured indemnity agreements for the schools part of this charitable package.

    I think the Pontotoc, Mississippi School District shelled out just under $300K to plaintiffs counsel for 1988 fees when their Bible studies classes were litigated before Judge Neil Biggers. They were assured by lawyers at the American Family Association that this would all work out for them; given they paid their own lawyer (plus something to the AFA), I’m confident that experiment in Establishment Clause litigation cost the district over $500K in late 1980s dollars.

    • Doh! I searched for “Freeland” on the page before I quoted you upthread …

  • Matt

    “I told you that if I couldn’t bring it in the front door, I was going to sneak it through the back,”

    I believe the kids call that “saddlebacking”. ;)