Teach the Bible in School?

Time magazine makes the case for teaching the Bible in public schools

By Don Ruhl

The cover of Time Magazine for April 2, 2007 made this amazing declaration, “Why we should teach the bible in public school {But very, very carefully}.”

Time is the number one liberal secular newsmagazine in America. Yet, a liberal and secular source argued that the Bible should be taught in public schools!

However, the magazine added the caution, “But Very, Very Carefully.” Those passionate for the teaching of God’s word will have no problem with that caution. We wish all people would teach the Bible very, very carefully!

I have been praying since about 1993 that this would happen in America and no doubt many others have been uttering the same prayer. Praise God that He answers prayer!

Time Magazine: Teaching the Bible in School 

The article began with this subtitle, “Should the Holy Book be on the public-school menu? Yes. It’s the bedrock of Western culture. And it’s constitutional—as long as we teach but don’t preach it.”

The article not only argues for teaching the Bible in public school, but also shows that it is happening right now. Speaking of one high school teacher in Texas,

…the day was Thursday, not Sunday. And the location was not Oakwood Baptist Church, a mile down Texas State Highway 46, but New Braunfels High School, a public school that began offering a Bible-literacy class last fall. The class has its share of conservative Christians. Front-row center sat Rachel Williams, 18, whose mother does teach Sunday school at Oakwood. But not 20 ft. away sat a blond atheist who asked that her name not be used because she hasn’t outed herself to her parents. Why take a Bible class? I asked her. “Some of my friends are Christian,” she said, shrugging, “and they would argue about, like, whether you can be a Christian and believe in evolution, and I’m like, Okaaaay…clueless.” Williams signed up for a similar reason. “If somebody is going to carry on a sophisticated conversation with me, I would rather know what they’re talking about than look like a moron or fight my way through it,” she says. The class has “gotten a lot of positive feedback,” she adds. “It’s going to really rise in popularity.” The same might be said about public-school courses on the Bible nationwide. There aren’t that many. But they’re rising in popularity. Last year Georgia became the first state in memory to offer funds for high school electives on the Old and New Testaments using the Bible as the core text. Similar funding was discussed in several other legislatures, although the initiatives did not become law. Meanwhile, two privately produced curriculums crafted specifically to pass church-state muster are competing for use in individual schools nationwide. Combined, they are employed in 460 districts in at least 37 states. The numbers are modest, but their publishers expect them to soar. The smaller of the two went into operation just last year but is already into its second 10,000-copy printing, has expressions of interest from a thousand new districts this year and expects many more. The larger publisher claims to be roughly doubling the number of districts it adds each year. These new curriculums plus polls suggesting that over 60% of Americans favor secular teaching about the Bible suggest that a Miss Kendrick may soon be talking about Matthew in a school near you.

What catches the eye in this quote are the words of the students. They evidently do not feel pressured into taking the class, but have signed up for it, not wanting to be ignorant and not wanting to look ignorant to their friends, because they have a sincere desire to hold intelligent conversations! Who wants to argue against that?

Another item that we heard in that quote are the numbers of schools and the numbers of states offering this course on the Bible. While there are only 460 school districts teaching this course, that is still a large number, especially when it is considered that these districts are spread over 37 states! There are over 13,000 school districts in America. So, there is a long ways to go, but 460 school districts is a start.

There have been court decisions that people thought prevented teaching the Bible, but judges in those cases have uttered otherwise. As Time said,

To some, this idea seems retrograde. Citing a series of Supreme Court decisions culminating in 1963’s Abington Township School District v. Schempp, which removed prayer and devotion from the classroom, the skeptics ask whether it is safe to bring back the source of all that sectarianism.

But a new, post-Schempp coalition insists it is essential to do so. It argues that teaching the Bible in schools—as an object of study, not God’s received word—is eminently constitutional. The Bible so pervades Western culture, it says, that it’s hard to call anyone educated who hasn’t at least given thought to its key passages.

Justice Robert Jackson’s concurring opinion in the 1948 case McCollum v. Board of Education: “One can hardly respect the system of education that would leave the student wholly ignorant of the currents of religious thought that move the world society for…which he is being prepared,” Jackson wrote, and warned that putting all references to God off limits would leave public education “in shreds.”

The article makes the point that even non-religious people need Bible courses. The bold print and all capitals are in the original, “So what? I’m not a very religious person SIMPLY PUT, THE BIBLE IS THE MOST influential book ever written. Not only is the Bible the bestselling book of all time, it is the best-selling book of the year every year.”

Time said that if someone cannot see that the Bible should be taught for literature purposes, then it should be for historical reasons, “If literature doesn’t interest you, you also need the Bible to make sense of the ideas and rhetoric that have helped drive U.S. history.”

Perhaps what caused the writing of this article was the publication of a book by Stephen Prothero, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—and Doesn’t. Mr. Prothero chairs the Boston University religion department and he believes that classes will be taught in an objectionable manner, but that the courts will settle the problem. To which Time said, “Prothero may be overly sanguine about the workings of the U.S. court system. But even if he’s wrong, this shouldn’t stop schools from making some effort to teach the Bible.”

Finally, the article ended with this paragraph, “And, oh yes, there should be one faith test. Faith in our country. Sure, there will be bumps along the way. But in the end, what is required in teaching about the Bible in our public schools is patriotism: a belief that we live in a nation that understands the wisdom of its Constitution clearly enough to allow the most important book in its history to remain vibrantly accessible for everyone.”

Other News Sources 

Other news sources have picked up this story. CBS News posted on its web site an article titled, The Bible As Literature, which can be found here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/16/sunday/main1501195.shtml

U.S. News & World Report posted an interview with Stephen Prothero at this address:

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070401/9qa_print.htm

The Today Show ran a clip and it is posted at this addrress by the publisher of The Bible and Its Influence:

http://www.bibleliteracy.org/Site/PressRoom/Video/press_todayshow.htm

Doing a search on the Internet brings up many stories that the secular press has covered on this subject.

We cannot let this opportunity get away from us! Here is why. Listen to these quotes. Do you think someone observing schools today made these quotes?

We believe the government schools, in an effort to avoid sectarianism, will become infidel…The church that gives up the education of the children to other’s will, no doubt, have faithless members.

I am much afraid that schools will prove to be great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the word of God must become corrupt.

David Lipscomb made the first quote (Gospel Advocate, 1892, reprinted April, 1989, p. 7) and Martin Luther made the second quote (The Rebirth of America, p. 127). If you think the words of these men have been fulfilled, then you should be delighted by what is happening in some of America’s schools, as I have shown you. Moreover, if you believe that the schools can be helped, then you will want to do something about it.

Will the Church Be Ready for the Bible in Public Schools? 

This is the title of an article by Debbie Bumbalough in the August 2007 Gospel Advocate. Her question is good one. We have a grand opportunity that we must not ignore. What can we do to be ready? What can we do to promote the teaching of the Bible in the public schools?

What Can We Do? 

First, let us replace our negative, critical, and bitter attitudes with hope for America’s schools. Things are changing. Ecclesiastes says that there is, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ec. 3:4). Now is the time to laugh! Now is the time to dance! Realize how much we can change in America if we can help get the Bible taught in public schools again!

Second, get involved in getting The Bible and Its Influence used in our schools. I have already started the process myself. Go to this web site and click on “Volunteers”:

http://www.bibleliteracy.org/Site/index2.htm

Third, pray that this movement grow, and that we have the wisdom, courage, knowledge, funding, and tenacity to get this done!

Fourth, teach the Bible as the word of God.

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