Friday, March 09, 2007

The Bible as Textbook





Possibly as early as next Monday, the Georgia legislature will take a final vote on revisions on a bill to establish elective courses in the public schools in both the Old Testament and New Testament. The bill has already passed both houses of the legislature overwhelmingly. If the revision passes, it will make Georgia the first state in modern times to establish the Bible as part of its public school curriculum. The state's Department of Education will have a year to create these elective courses.

The Bible is already being used as a course study in as many as 1,000 American high schools, and has been allowed by the US Supreme Court, as long as it is presented objectively and not taught as fact. The option to use the Bible has been open to local school boards, but Georgia is the first state to implement Bible courses throughout the entire state, although individual school districts may opt out if they wish. Apparently Alabama and Missouri are also considering statewide Bible courses.

Sponsors of Georgia's bill say that students need an understanding of the Bible to better understand the foundations of Western culture. Much of Western literature and art, from Michelangelo, to Shakespeare, to contemporary writings draw from Biblical sources.

In the late 1700's Congress actually printed 40,000 copies of the Bible, and it was the most quoted source for the writngs of our Founding Fathers. Early textbooks relied on Scripture text to teach both reading and comprehension, as well as moral lessons.

As more states consider adding the Bible as literature and history courses to their curriculum, there will be a much wider debate about its scope and the intent of its Author.

What do you think about it? Should the Bible be taught in this fashion in public schools? Why or why not?

8 comments:

selahV said...

Kat: I love the idea of the Bible being taught in public schools. I have no fear of who teaches it either. Especially since they will be teaching it without addressing it as fact. Just get that book in the hands of those children. Let them read whatever passages they want. Then let the Lord do what He does best. Convict, convince and complete His work as He sees fit. This is exciting. Praise the Lord. selahV

Elder's Wife said...

Hi Selahv-
I've appreciated your comments on Geoff's blog. Thanks for visiting here.
God did say that His Word would not return void. Exposing teenagers to the Bible should encourage some healthy discussions between peers and also with parents. From what I've read, the bill doesn't close the door to using the Bible in the lower grades, either, although I could be wrong about that.

selahV said...

Kat: I just pray this sweeps the country.
You and I have a lot in common, Kat. I'm a grandmother of 7 and great-grandmother of one as of yesterday. I only have one child left--a daughter. My son was killed two years ago on Mother's Day. But God is filling my void with His wisdom and grace. I've been writing since 1982 professionally when I had my first article published in DECISION Magazine by Billy Graham Ministries. I've published greeting cards, numerous articles, and even my own newspaper. Life has been amazing as a minister's wife and God has used my life experiences to touch others for Himself for years. He's been very good to me. I'm glad I found you through Geoff's site.
selahV

Elder's Wife said...

selahV-
Email me at goodasnewshop at yahoo dot com
kat

Tony said...

Kat-

I really am all for the Bible being taught in public schools and have no problem with it. In our age of tolerance, relativistic mumbo-jumbo, and everything under the sun activist groups, we can assume however it would be no time before the Koran is being taught-and the Vedas-and the Upanishads-and the Bhagavad Gita-and the Book of Mormon-and on...and on...and on...

The public schools must teach religion, if at all, objectively, and though I applaud GA and the decision to teach it in the school system, but by their very nature, public school education is divorced from religion. (Why we homeschool!)

I also fear what will happen to our churches if the Bible is essentially treated as a textbook, another locker blocker or backpack filler.

My point is that it will not be taught objectively. What if the teacher teaches a literal view of Genesis 1-11? A young earth proposal of creation? There are too many conflicts that could arise. How can you keep the Bible class butting heads with the science class? Can you imagine the confusion? The kids need to be equipped first before they are confronted with this...and sadly parents nor churches are preparing their kids for these kinds of ideological confrontations.

Plus, I am very skeptical towards the religious right, (I am a conservative, very much so, to be fair) and they would claim a victory if this happens nationwide which would be a tacit endorsement of RR doctrine.

I am not opposed to the Bible being taught per se, I am just very pessimistic about it being relegated to textbook status.

Elder's Wife said...

Tony,
I agree that it would be impossible to teach the Bible without conflicts. Isn't it funny that a culture which has based so much of its common law and practice on the Bible should have such difficulty in explaining why?

BTW, we homeschooled our youngest child, too. Since we used mostly "Christian" curriculae, our history and government courses were framed in a Biblical outlook. As a result, there were vast chunks of world history that seemed to get short-changed (much of Asian and African history, for example), and I don't recall any discussion of the relationship of non-Christian religions to Asian or African people. For instance, what were the religious factors behind Japanese imperialism? And what are the roots of today's Islamic conflicts?

I do think we are raising up a generation of Biblically illiterates, though. Perhaps that is an issue that we had better start addressing within our churches, without expecting the State to do the work for us. There is a vast mission field out there for those who are willing to work with after school children's ministries and Bible clubs. Unfortunately, many churches have chosen to entertain kids instead of teaching them.
Kat

Tony said...

Kat--

Unfortunately, many churches have chosen to entertain kids instead of teaching them.

Thanks for helping me to see that I am not crazy. I thought I was the only one who was seeing this terrible trend.

Elder's Wife said...

Tony-
Well, don't get me started on singing vegetables and BibleMan. Sad thing when we give Hollywood the right to educate our kids about the Lord.
Kat