Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center has a column about the ACLU’s lawsuit over the NCBCPS Bible curriculum in which he says that the outcome of this trial could be nationally significant:
Far more is at stake in this case than a couple of Bible classes in Odessa. That’s because the material used in the course is produced by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, a North Carolina-based organization supported by many conservative Christian advocacy groups.
The National Council’s Web site claims that its curriculum “has been voted into 382 school districts in 37 states.” Although these numbers are impossible to confirm (as the council won’t reveal locations), it is clear from news reports (and calls I get) that this curriculum is sparking controversy in a growing number of communities. A legal setback in Ector County could put the brakes on the National Council’s efforts nationwide.
He’s quite right. The parallels between this case and the Dover trial are many, not least because the push for getting the Bible in to public schools is part of a larger push that includes getting ID into public schools. For the religious right, these are two items on the agenda, each focused on “getting God back in the schools.” Like the push for ID, both sides have been looking for a test case where the facts are most favorable for the outcome they prefer. And as Haynes points out, like Dover, the case could be the first major blow to the nationwide push for the Bible curriculum.