16 February 2010

Teaching the Bible in Public School

I was watching the news this morning and heard something that made me very thankful I homeschool. It seems a school in Tennessee will be using the Bible as literature in a public high school. While I agree that the Bible could be used as such, and I agree that knowledge of the Bible can be useful in many areas of ones life (including literature, law and even popular culture); I do not agree that it should be taught at this level or that it should be required.

I do not believe teachers can teach the Bible without bias; after all they have not been able to teach politics without bias. Religion is something very close to most people. If you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Wiccan or even Atheist, your religion (or lack thereof) helps to define who you are. It is a part of you. If you sit down in a class to teach the Bible as literature, and you happen to be Wiccan, how can this not have an affect on your class? If you happen to be Christian, what happens when a non-Christian student challenges YOUR Bible? We already have color lines and socio-economic lines drawn in the class room (black kids hang out with black kids; rich kids with rich kids), why are we looking for something else to divide us?

Then you have to ask, whose Bible are they going to teach? Jews don’t consider the New Testament part of the Bible (I know because I am one) and there are many translations of the Bible and many are inaccurate. In fact, you may argue that because Hebrew can not be easily translated, word for word, to English, any Bible they choose other than one written in Hebrew would be inaccurate. Also, what happens to the kids who don’t hold any stock in the Jewish or Christian Bible at all? Because of the emotion involved this is much more consequential than when someone just doesn’t like “Of Mice and Men” or “Romeo and Juliet.”

Rather than teaching the Bible itself, it may be best for the school to pull out examples from the Bible. For example, when talking about our legal system it is certainly appropriate to point out the laws that connect to biblical laws (our founding fathers were men of faith after all). When reading a piece of literature which references the Bible, I see nothing wrong with referring to that part of the Bible for an in depth analysis; however, making the Bible required reading is just too dangerous.

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