Texas Public School Bible Classes Criticized as Unconstitutional

Mark Chancey, religious studies professor at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, talks about Bible classes being taught in Texas public schools.

By David Mildenberg

In a Sonora, Texas, public high-school classroom usually used to teach computer programming and physics, four students are getting Bible lessons from a teacher who doubles as a pastor.

“What change shall be made in our bodies at the resurrection?” teacher Clyde Dukes asked, reading from a textbook. “How does God keep our hearts and minds?”

Classes like the one at Sonora High were singled out in a January report by Mark Chancey, a religious-studies professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, as an example of how Texas schools provide unconstitutional Bible instruction. Chancey and civil-liberties groups say the class suggests students apply the Bible to their lives and doesn’t provide perspective on other faiths, violating the First Amendment ban on government establishment of religion.

“These classes too often promote religious values that aren’t appropriate academically,” Chancey said. “Public funds are being used to promote some religious views over others.” ...