Bible Course Called

Biased, Full of Errors

AUSTIN -- A religious watchdog group complained Monday that a Bible study course taught in hundreds of public schools in Texas and across the country promotes a fundamentalist Christian view and violates religious freedom. The Texas Freedom Network, which includes clergy of several faiths, also said the course offered by the Greensboro, N.C.-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is full of errors and dubious research.

The producers of the Bible class dismissed the Texas Freedom Network as a "far left" organization trying to suppress study of a historical text.

The council said its elective course is offered in high schools and junior highs by more than 300 school districts in 37 states.

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said her group looked at the course after the Odessa, Tex., school board voted in April to offer the class. Miller's group asked Southern Methodist University biblical scholar Mark A. Chancey to review the curriculum.

Chancey's review found that the course characterizes the Bible as inspired by God, that discussions of science are based on the biblical account of creation, that Jesus is referred to as fulfilling Old Testament prophecy, and that archaeological findings are erroneously used to support claims of the Bible's historical accuracy. He said the course also suggests the Bible, instead of the Constitution, be considered the nation's founding document.

Spousal Rights for Gays

At Calif. Country Clubs

SAN FRANCISCO -- California's highest court ruled that country clubs must offer gay members who register as domestic partners the same discounts given to married ones -- a decision that could apply to other businesses such as insurance companies and mortgage lenders.

The decision by the California Supreme Court dealt with a policy at the Bernardo Heights Country Club in San Diego that allowed only the children, grandchildren and spouses of married members to golf free.

Birgit Koebke, 48, a golfer who pays about $500 a month in membership fees, challenged the policy after being told that her longtime lesbian partner could only play as a guest six times a year while paying up to $70 per round. The court ruled that the policy constitutes "impermissible marital status discrimination."

* WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- One of two little boys who died in a bathroom flooded with scalding water had burns that showed "he was on his tippy-toes, trying to get out of the hot water," Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro said. Elijaha Santana, 2, and his half-brother, David Maldonado Jr., 1, died Friday from exposure to the intense heat that built up in the bathroom as the hot water ran. Their parents said they were asleep, and a caseworker assigned to the family was fired.

* LUDLOW, Calif. -- A van carrying 20 people overturned several times on the shoulder of a desert highway, killing five people and injuring all 15 others, three critically, the California Highway Patrol said. The van contained seats for only the driver and one passenger. Police said they are unsure whether the occupants were migrant workers or illegal residents because only the driver had identification.

* MORRISTOWN, N.J. -- Three teenage boys were caught trying to dump a steamer trunk containing the dismembered body of a 16-year-old girl into a river, authorities said. One of the teens, Jonathan A. Zarate, 18, pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in the death and dismemberment of Jennifer Parks. Two younger boys, whose names were not released, were charged with unlawful disposal of human remains and tampering with evidence.

-- From News Services

Biblical scholar Mark A. Chancey reviewed a course taught in public schools in 37 states.