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Church and State

Republican Warren Chisum's crusade may not have biblical proportions, but it could help public high school students in Texas understand what the term "biblical proportions" means. The state legislator is drafting a bill that would require all public school districts to offer an elective course on the history and literature of the Old and New Testaments. "There's a lot of stuff in the Bible that finds its way into our dictionaries, into our art, into all of our literature and into our laws," Chisum says. Many, including clergy members, worry that a lack of resources and teacher preparation would make for inadequate or biased courses. "Mandating every school district without any sort of training materials, without any funding—that's verging on cruel," says Baptist minister and scholar John Ferguson, who also fears that improper execution of the elective could be cause for lawsuits. Putting aside these more practical concerns, should schools really be required to offer Bible courses?

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