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Editorial: As cornerstone of culture, Bible should be taught in public schools

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  • Editorial: As cornerstone of culture, Bible should be taught in public schools

    The following article appeared in 'The Columbus Dispatch' on Friday, June 24th. It's probably controversial, but I think it connects with points I've attempted to make in my Nudity and Religion topic concerning the seeming conflict between CFF's homepage and the rules governing what can be discussed, and how, in the forums. It's my impression that simply quoting the Bible--uncommented upon--in the forums would, chances are, be considered hateful / flaming, with the poster or replier being warned or banned.

    Today I drilled down to read the rest of the "Why Nude Recreation?" article which starts on the homepage. It gets much more specific, and I think several would think, objectionable. Seems to me that talking about Jesus and sin and quoting New Testament scriptures, as "Why Nude Recreation" does, would be unacceptable to some people here.


    Here's the editorial:

    As cornerstone of culture, Bible should be taught in public schools

    Friday, June 24, 2005

    PAU L GREENBERG

    In this age of biblical illiteracy, the good news is that some public schools are offering classes in the Bible — much like monks in the Dark Ages laboriously copying the works of Plato and Aristotle in the sure faith that one day there would be a renaissance of classical learning.

    But we live in times when the Book may be given a wide berth by prudent school administrators, lest they be accused of mixing church and state and wind up on the wrong side of a lawsuit.

    These days there are few more effective impediments to education (and many another worthwhile endeavor) than the threat of litigation. This time it's the Bible that's been the victim of that well- known chilling effect. Sue one school district, and you can instill fear in a thousand others.

    This is how the law of the land, or rather an exaggerated caricature of it in the minds of educators, winds up promoting ignorance.

    How strange: Inquiring minds might be urged to study every failed prophet from Karl Marx to Che Guevara, but they're told not to eat of the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden. The most profound of books, both deeply conservative and genuinely revolutionary, is the one declared off- limits.

    How did we get to this pass? Through a series of vague, confusing court decisions that left educators fearful of crossing some imagined line. The separation of church and state is a wholesome precaution in a free country. Unfortunately, it's been equated with the separation of religious ideas from American life. Can't be done. Not in a nation founded in the faith that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. (Talk about a concise summary of the theory of natural law!)

    For the timid, or downright fearful, the safest course for public education has been to avoid any discussion of spiritual values. The result: Many students are sent out into the world without having been exposed to the King James Bible, which is not only Holy Scripture but a cornerstone, if not the very foundation, of English literature.

    In such a culture, or absence of culture, ignorance has flourished.

    According to a survey sponsored by the Bible Literacy Project, only one out of three American teenagers could say who in the Bible asked, ‘‘Am I my brother's keeper?" And only a third knew what happened on the road to Damascus.

    To quote one teacher: ‘‘I'll make comparisons . . . like Noah and the ark, or like Moses, and I'll have kids kind of look at me: ‘Who's Noah?' ‘Who's Moses?' "

    Another teacher felt compelled to drop Charles Portis' True Grit from the class reading list because, although it's the kind of book you'd think would be perfect for young Americans, the kids were stumped by its biblical allusions.

    There's hope. Here and there, courses in the Bible as literature are springing up.

    Both the National Bible Association and the First Amendment Center agree that the Bible should be offered in public school. So do the National Association of Evangelicals and People for the American Way, outfits that seldom agree about anything else.

    God bless 'em all.

    So long as public schools educate instead of indoctrinate, so long as they teach rather than preach, they should have no problem staying on the right side of the Constitution.

    Of course it'll require some judgment, a little common sense and maybe a handy set of guidelines to conduct a class in the Bible as literature rather than as religious doctrine. But there are a lot of teachers out there capable of teaching such a course, and it would be a shame to go on turning out high-school graduates who are biblical illiterates.

    Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer prizewinning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat- Gazette.

    [email protected]

  • #2
    The following article appeared in 'The Columbus Dispatch' on Friday, June 24th. It's probably controversial, but I think it connects with points I've attempted to make in my Nudity and Religion topic concerning the seeming conflict between CFF's homepage and the rules governing what can be discussed, and how, in the forums. It's my impression that simply quoting the Bible--uncommented upon--in the forums would, chances are, be considered hateful / flaming, with the poster or replier being warned or banned.

    Today I drilled down to read the rest of the "Why Nude Recreation?" article which starts on the homepage. It gets much more specific, and I think several would think, objectionable. Seems to me that talking about Jesus and sin and quoting New Testament scriptures, as "Why Nude Recreation" does, would be unacceptable to some people here.


    Here's the editorial:

    As cornerstone of culture, Bible should be taught in public schools

    Friday, June 24, 2005

    PAU L GREENBERG

    In this age of biblical illiteracy, the good news is that some public schools are offering classes in the Bible — much like monks in the Dark Ages laboriously copying the works of Plato and Aristotle in the sure faith that one day there would be a renaissance of classical learning.

    But we live in times when the Book may be given a wide berth by prudent school administrators, lest they be accused of mixing church and state and wind up on the wrong side of a lawsuit.

    These days there are few more effective impediments to education (and many another worthwhile endeavor) than the threat of litigation. This time it's the Bible that's been the victim of that well- known chilling effect. Sue one school district, and you can instill fear in a thousand others.

    This is how the law of the land, or rather an exaggerated caricature of it in the minds of educators, winds up promoting ignorance.

    How strange: Inquiring minds might be urged to study every failed prophet from Karl Marx to Che Guevara, but they're told not to eat of the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden. The most profound of books, both deeply conservative and genuinely revolutionary, is the one declared off- limits.

    How did we get to this pass? Through a series of vague, confusing court decisions that left educators fearful of crossing some imagined line. The separation of church and state is a wholesome precaution in a free country. Unfortunately, it's been equated with the separation of religious ideas from American life. Can't be done. Not in a nation founded in the faith that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. (Talk about a concise summary of the theory of natural law!)

    For the timid, or downright fearful, the safest course for public education has been to avoid any discussion of spiritual values. The result: Many students are sent out into the world without having been exposed to the King James Bible, which is not only Holy Scripture but a cornerstone, if not the very foundation, of English literature.

    In such a culture, or absence of culture, ignorance has flourished.

    According to a survey sponsored by the Bible Literacy Project, only one out of three American teenagers could say who in the Bible asked, ‘‘Am I my brother's keeper?" And only a third knew what happened on the road to Damascus.

    To quote one teacher: ‘‘I'll make comparisons . . . like Noah and the ark, or like Moses, and I'll have kids kind of look at me: ‘Who's Noah?' ‘Who's Moses?' "

    Another teacher felt compelled to drop Charles Portis' True Grit from the class reading list because, although it's the kind of book you'd think would be perfect for young Americans, the kids were stumped by its biblical allusions.

    There's hope. Here and there, courses in the Bible as literature are springing up.

    Both the National Bible Association and the First Amendment Center agree that the Bible should be offered in public school. So do the National Association of Evangelicals and People for the American Way, outfits that seldom agree about anything else.

    God bless 'em all.

    So long as public schools educate instead of indoctrinate, so long as they teach rather than preach, they should have no problem staying on the right side of the Constitution.

    Of course it'll require some judgment, a little common sense and maybe a handy set of guidelines to conduct a class in the Bible as literature rather than as religious doctrine. But there are a lot of teachers out there capable of teaching such a course, and it would be a shame to go on turning out high-school graduates who are biblical illiterates.

    Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer prizewinning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat- Gazette.

    [email protected]

    Comment


    • #3
      Quite simply no.

      The US has no state religion. Doing this promotes Christianity over any other religion, and would then become defacto the state religion.

      I think an elective course on Religion is ok. But it would have to be set around the history of some religions (Egyptian, Native American, Aztec, etc...) and also include Christianity, Hinduism, Buddism, Islam, and Judism, so that no one religion is paramount.

      I was raised with Christian beliefs, and am still a beleiver, but God's word is not supposed to be forced down someone's throat.

      Qikdraw

      Comment


      • #4
        I wonder if the National Bible Association and the National Association of Evangelicals would be so supportive if a class on the Koran or Torah was given?How about an in depth study of Rationalism or Secular Humanism?I hope they would.
        I for one would welcome all books to be studied and discussed by high school students.Even books that many would want burned.
        I had a teacher in the mid eighties who began her world lit class with a story from the Bible to represent Hebrew lit.Too bad some of the students each year threw a fit,no not non-belivers,but radical Christians who thought it was disrespectful of the Bible to be read as just literature.
        I hope shes still doing it.

        Comment


        • #5
          I wouldn't have a problem with a comparitive religion class being taught where the teacher shows the differences and similarities between many different religions.

          In the public schools, I would not want to see classes devoted to just one religion because of the inevitable conflicts that would occur between students.

          Comment


          • #6
            I had a high school teacher in a public school who started each class with prayer and Bible reading. That was a LONG time ago! Shortly after that the communist school faculty came through the dining room and confiscated everyone's Bibles--at least those who would surrender tham. I have to say I didn't surrender mine.

            Comment


            • #7
              When I was in high school, we didn't have enough students for alot of the more interesting electives. I do remember however, that many of the more populated schools incorporated comparitive religious studies. Having read the bible, I'm quite biased, and would like to see it removed from the face of the earth, let alone schools.

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree witht the article. We should be careful not to go as far as indoctrination but the Bible is literature. It is the most quoted and referenced piece of literature in the western world. Shakespeare is second (his entire works) followed by Greek/Roman mythology, history, and classic literature in general. No matter what your beliefs are you will encounter Biblical quotes and references, it would be handy to understand them.

                Comment


                • #9
                  As with most others who have replied, I seriously disagree with this article.

                  There needs to be a seperation of church and state and teaching the bible (at the exclusion of all other religions) violates that seperation. If this was to be instituted in any public school it would not survive a test in the courts. Now, as others have said, if the schools want to offer a course in comp. religion that is fine-each and every religion would have to be presented in the same detail and with the same amount of validity.

                  Larry, if you, or if other parents have a problem with students not having a religious education that you consider adequate then the fault may be found in your mirror. Do you want your children to have a religious background? Then send them to religious school on their own time. Churches, synagoges, mosques all offer religious education for students. That is the appropriate place for such education to take place.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    quote:
                    Originally posted by Jon-Marc:
                    Shortly after that the communist school faculty came through the dining room and confiscated everyone's Bibles--


                    Are you saying that the faculty and administration of your school was in-fact communist OR do you consider those that believe in the seperation of church and state to be communist? Personally, I couldn't care less if any student has a bible in their backpack; but I do have a problem if the public school starts to teach bible lessons.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      quote:
                      Originally posted by namedun:
                      ...would like to see it removed ... let alone schools.


                      When parents desire or demand the public schools teach religion (and only their religion of course) they are just showing that they are poor parents. If a parent wants to indoctrinate (oops teach) a particular belief system to their children that is fine. It is their right to do so. It is their responsibility to either do so personally or to send their children for religious training.

                      However, asking society in the form of the public schools to teach a belief system is just wrong. No doubt Larry doesn't understand that at least here in the States this isn't theocracy and if you want full-time religious indocrtrincation during the educational years you can send students to Catholic Schools, Christian Schools, Yashivas, or the school of the religion of your choice.

                      If you want your child to attend a public school then get off your butt-your kid's religious instruction is YOUR responsibility.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        well, i believe that religion should be taught but not religious studies, like we have R.E. class which teaches about the religions, all the religions from a thrid party perspective, which gives you a general view on them, meaning you can choose a religion maybe when your older that suits you and your beleifs.

                        Bible being taught in public schools, thats just wrong, so what teachings would be taught? Catholic, Prodesant, or one of the others.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am in total agreement with the Comparative Religious studies course that could be created. But I wonder how many zealots would decry the course as being anti-Christain/Islam/Jewish/ etc. After all, for some people, to hold their religion as equal to another person's religion is blasphemy.

                          In fact, that has always been a major sticking point for me with people such as the Alabama Judge who wanted to keep the 10 Commandments statue in the Courthouse. He would have been up in arms if it had been a large Pagan statue or Islam statue, but since it agreed with his own religion, it was fine. The same with Paul Greenberg, the author of the article. He wants Christianity to be taught, but would probably be
                          upset if another religion was taught alongside it.

                          His other problem is turning to the schools for a cultural ignorance of Biblical references. The schools are not where children or anyone should be learning about those references, Churches are. He has only the populace to blame for that.

                          "Are you saying that the faculty and administration of your school was in-fact communist OR do you consider those that believe in the seperation of church and state to be communist?"

                          Topher, Jon-Marc was probably using it as an insult to those faculty members who went around stealing the students' Bibles. He was talking about two separate incidents. The first one was before the rules, the thefts were after the rules.

                          Bob S.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The article advocates teaching the Bible as literature, not as a religion as many of you appear to think. It is no different from kids studying The Odyssey or The Illiad or even the Koran. I see no problem with kids studying any of these texts, Bible included.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              quote:
                              Originally posted by NudeTopher (christopher):

                              Are you saying that the faculty and administration of your school was in-fact communist OR do you consider those that believe in the seperation of church and state to be communist? Personally, I couldn't care less if any student has a bible in their backpack; but I do have a problem if the public school starts to teach bible lessons.


                              I call them communists because they came into the dining room during lunch and confiscated personal bibles of any students who carried one. Those Bilbes did no one any harm, and I never heard any Christian students (including myself) who went around preaching at other students. I quietly read my New Testament during breaks and didn't bother anyone. Yet the atheists seemed to think they had the right to treat our beilefs as trash just because they don't believe in God and were offended by students who weren't afraid to live their beliefs by carrying and reading a Bible during their own private time even if it was on school property. Would those same people be offended by students reading mystery novels in school during their breaks? I seriously doubt it. It's just that many people are so much against God that they want to push Him out of everywhere--even to the point of denying peoples' right to carry and read a Bible in the presence of others because it offends them.

                              If you say it's all right to take Bibles away from Christians because they offend non-Christians, then you're saying it's all right to shut down nudist resorts because they offend other people.

                              Personally I believe that only Christian schools should teach the Bible. If we teach one religion in public schools, then we have to teach all of them.

                              I was confused in high school by being taught the falsehood of evolution as a FACT in the 60's, and then being taught the Bible in church, which IS a fact.

                              Comment

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