Friday, November 13, 2009

Teach the Bible in School? Of Course...

Since President Obama is on a roll with holding conferences to address thorny issues, let me suggest another one: convene a conference to address the volatile issue of religion in public schools. In particular, let's talk about teaching the Bible again in public schools.

I happened to believe that teaching students the Bible in public schools is a good idea. We are making this debate too complicated.

Now I know this debate can lead to great passion, but let's use a little common sense.

Here's why.

First, its a key source for the historical founding of our nation. Every point made in the 1776 Declaration of Independence was preached from a church pulpit before 1770. Understanding the biblical concepts of liberty, property and justice is crucial for students in their studies of the beginnings of our nation.

Second, the Bible is filled with all sorts of different literature that students can study. There's historical passages, poetic passages, didactic ones, apocalyptic and wisdom literature all wrapped into one magnificent book.

Third, professors from many of America's leading universities-Yale, Princeton, Rice, Berkeley and Stanford have consensus that incoming college students need to be well-versed in the stories, themes and words of the Bible. The context- they cannot understand Shakespeare, Milton or Wordsworth.

Fourth, biblical knowledge is key to understanding today's pop culture. Here's the deal. Take Stephen Colbert's irreverent humor on Comedy Central. Or the devilishly clever title of the band White Stripes release, Get Behind Me Satan. There are many movies and other cultural expressions embedded with biblical themes or twisted ones too.

Finally, in a 2008 sociological publication, research showed that regular church attendance positively affected students academic performance. There are several ways to interpret this data, but I choose to see this in the light of the benefit gained from biblical literacy as it is applied to life.

Everyone wins with biblical teaching in school. Christian families will feel positive and hopeful that these elective courses on the Bible will improve the school environment while other parents who want their kids to be high achievers just might start taking them to church....

Your thoughts?

1 comment:

Kevin J Jones said...

Teaching the Bible in school worked fifty years ago when there was a general Protestant consensus that could at least present it as the Word of God.

But to present Holy Writ as simple "literature" which every educated person should know is to put it on the same level as the Iliad or Shakespeare.

Similar mistakes are made when one presents the Bible as useful for character education.

The Bible is meant to reveal God to man. Public education must neglect this primary fact, and therefore it would distort Scripture.