While there is clearly nothing wrong per se with studying the Bible in public schools -- a local high school here in Madison has a "Bible as Literature" course, for example -- there are some ways of teaching about the Bible that violate the Establishment Clause.
The program discussed in the article is accused of concealing a "religious agenda":
The critics say it ignores evolution in favor of creationism and gives credence to dubious assertions that the Constitution is based on the Scriptures, and that "documented research through NASA" backs the biblical account of the sun standing still....When people want to use the study of the Bible as a way to inculcate public school kids with religion, they tend to go about it in a way that reveals this intention. They light a fire under critics and make it easy for them to bring successful lawsuits. They alienate people who simply care about good education, who ought to want children to learn the historical and cultural significance of the Bible. What a shame!
According to Charles Haynes of the Freedom Forum, which published "The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide" five years ago, "The distinction is between teaching the Bible and teaching about the Bible - it has to be taught academically, not devotionally."
The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools says its course "is concerned with education rather than indoctrination of students."
"The central approach of the class is simply to study the Bible as a foundation document of society, and that approach is altogether appropriate in a comprehensive program of secular education," it says....
A highly critical article in The Journal of Law and Education in 2003 said the course "suffers from a number of constitutional infirmities" and "fails to present the Bible in the objective manner required."
The journal said that even supplementary materials were heavily slanted toward sectarian organizations; 83 percent of the books and articles recommended had strong ties to sectarian organizations, 60 percent had ties to Protestant organizations, and 53 percent had ties to conservative Protestant organizations, it said....
Some of the claims made in the national council's curriculum are laughable, said Mark A. Chancey, professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, who spent seven weeks studying the syllabus for the freedom network. Mr. Chancey said he found it "riddled with errors" of facts, dates, definitions and incorrect spellings. It cites supposed NASA findings to suggest that the earth stopped twice in its orbit, in support of the literal truth of the biblical text that the sun stood still in Joshua and II Kings.
"When the type of urban legend that normally circulates by e-mail ends up in a textbook, that's a problem," Mr. Chancey said.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum is really irked by the quality of the journalism in the linked NYT article. He has a point!