Since nothing else is happening in Texas right now, State Rep. Mayes Middleton has introduced a bill, HB 2399, that would inject Bible readings into public school classrooms.
As it stands, Texas law requires students to say the (religious) Pledge of Allegiance as well as the (also religious) Pledge of Allegiance (Texas edition). Students are able to opt out only with written permission from their parents or guardians. Schools must allow have a one-minute moment of silence so students can do whatever they want (read: pray).
The new bill would also allow school boards to require schools to “provide a period of prayer and readings from the Bible each day.” It would be opt-in. And anyone who agrees to participate would not be allowed to sue the district over it.
It also says the rules apply to “school-sponsored athletic events,” though the text doesn’t specify anything about that.
There are plenty of problem with this idea and I swear I’m not even trying hard to come up with these:
1) Why do kids need time at school to read the Bible? Why can’t they do it at home?
2) The bill says the opt-in request would acknowledge that the people involved have “a free choice in whether to hear or participate.” But let’s face it: If both the student and parents are okay with it, they could do it at home, and if the student is not okay with it, then there’s a good chance they’re unable to say that to their parents. There’s coercion here whether it’s legal or not.
3) Why single out Bible readings and not something from the Qur’an or other holy books?
4) How much time will be spent doing these readings? The bill doesn’t specify.
5) Where will these readings occur? The bill says a public address system cannot be used and the readings can’t occur within earshot of non-participants. But it doesn’t say where the readings will take place.
6) What will kids miss by taking part in the Bible reading? Which subjects are they skipping?
7) Which sections of the Bible will be read? Who decides? Are we doing Genesis 38?
8) What are the repercussions for the handful of kids who aren’t Christian — and openly so? If everyone else is reading the Bible during school, will they be “otherized”? Kicked out of the classroom? Bullied?
9) What purpose does this serve?
10) If school-sanctioned prayers are permitted at athletic events, then how will they handle non-participants? Is everyone going to step outside the football field before a game in order to pray?
There’s literally no reason for this bill to exist and it creates far more drama for everyone involved than whatever the status quo is now. It’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. And it obviously is meant to promote Christianity through the government.
Students are already allowed to pray on their own. They can do it in groups. They can form Bible clubs. They can pray silently all day long. They can read the Bible in their free time.
The last things Texas students need is less time during the school day to learn things and more time to get indoctrinated.
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