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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Mark Chancey on National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools

Jim West has been highlighting the campaign of Mark Chancey (he of top stuff on Galilee fame) on this National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. It makes some very odd reading in the sense you don't know whether to laugh or cry. On the 'laugh' side look at this:

The curriculum also often relies on extremely idiosyncratic, non-scholarly literature. On page 170, for example, the curriculum says, "Respected scholar, Dr. J. O. Kinnaman, declared: 'Of the hundreds of thousands of artifacts found by the archeologists, not one has ever been discovered that contradicts or denies one word, phrase, clause, or sentence of the Bible, but always confirms and verifies the facts of the Biblical record." This quote clearly reflects the book’s attempt to convince students that the Bible is 100 percent historically accurate. Here Kinnaman is said to be a "respected scholar," but most scholars are unfamiliar with him. Kinnaman argued in his 1940 book Diggers for Facts: The Bible in Light of Archaeology that Jesus and Paul visited Great Britain, that Joseph of Arimathea was Jesus’ uncle and dominated the tin industry of Wales, and that he himself had personally seen Jesus’ school records in India. According to an article by Stephen Mehler, director of research at the Kinnaman Foundation, Kinnaman reported finding a secret entrance into the Great Pyramid of Giza, in which he discovered records from the lost continent of Atlantis. He also claimed that the pyramid was 35,000 years old and was used in antiquity to transmit radio messages to the Grand Canyon. The National Council’s August 4 press release, available at bibleinschools.net under the link titled "NCBCPS responds to attack," defends Kinnaman’s status

This is obviously funny in sad kind of way. But it arguably gets worse:

NCBCPS has responded to the report by spreading misinformation to its followers and the media about me, Texas Freedom Network, the report, the curriculum itself, even its own web site. Its August 4 press release, mentioned above, dismisses the TFN report as the product of "radical humanists" and "anti-religion extremists" who are "attempting to become the biggest censor in the State of Texas," "desperate to ban one book—the Bible—from public schools," and are advocating "totalitarianism." More recently, a representative of the NCBCPS told the press that "anyone who's against this [curriculum] has just got to be French."

Let's hope Mark Chancey is successful.

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