AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Most Texas school districts that teach Bible courses as a separate elective have failed to follow state guidelines, a study by religious freedom advocates said.
A bill passed in 2007 allows school districts to teach elective courses on the Bible as long as they are religiously neutral and educate students on the Bible's historical and cultural influence.
A study authored for the Texas Freedom Network by Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, found that of the 57 school districts and three charter schools that taught the course, only 11 could be considered "most successful," which was defined as largely constitutional and academically rigorous, The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reported Thursday.
The Belton Independent School Distinct, about 60 miles north of Austin, was among the 20 districts and one charter school highlighted in the study as "most problematic."
Course materials in the district treated as fact the word of God and said "giving God his rightful place in the national life of this country has provided a rich heritage for all its citizens."
The Texas Freedom Network -- which describes itself as a non-partisan watchdog organization of religious and community leaders that monitors "far-right issues, organizations, money and leaders" -- said the bill that authorized the Bible classes had failed to set out specific curriculum requirements or prepare teachers to offer an unbiased curriculum.