Teaching the Bible?

[Edited at the end.]

God’s Textbook

It’s been a debate for a long time, now, whether the Bible has a place in public schools. Several people agree that it does hold some very rich literature, but others try to push it as a historical resource, as well.

I disagree with both. While some Biblical stories are interesting, I have to say that they are too far-fetched for me. I’d rather read “The Iliad” or “The Odyssey”, Shakespeare, or Dante’s “Divine Comedy”. The Bible’s stories tend to be rather tedious to read, and rely too much on faith to be interesting to me as a nonbeliever. They are also a bit “preachy” at times, as well as repetitive and long-winded.

And as a history text, it is completely awful. There are no reliable resources, and the facts are skewed by religious influences – it was never meant to be a history book. Perhaps the Bible, itself, has made history, which is worthy of studying (the first printed book, the many translations, its affect on different cultures, etc). It was particularly interesting to study in my “History of Books” class my freshman year of college, but we didn’t study the content. History textbooks are inaccurate enough without adding the Bible to the list. Besides, I thought teachers and parents were pushing for more up-to-date history texts, anyway. The Bible was put together centuries ago – talk about outdated!

Even if certain stories do make it into a literature or history class, I think they should be a part of a course of a study, and should not make up the entire class. Most high schools don’t devote entire classes to studying any one particular work or author – the point of high school seems to be to get as much general knowledge as possible into students so they might go off to college and explore the specifics on their own. There simply isn’t time for a “Bible as literature/history” course in high schools. And the monetary resources aren’t there, either – we can barely fund music and art classes, let’s not waste time and money on textbook versions of the Bible and the teachers to teach it. Besides, I’m sure the Quran has some history and literature in it, too, but I don’t see anyone pushing for that to be taught in our schools. One or two stories in a class that focuses on literature in general is okay, but an entire class devoted to it is just ridiculous.

Disagree if you must, but make a good point for your argument.

21 March, 10:39pm EDT – I wanted to respond to Alan’s comment, below. This entry was pretty general, but there are groups (somewhat successfully) trying to get the Bible taught in schools; the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, the Bible Literacy Project, and Bible in the Schools, among others. According the first organization, “The Bible course curriculum has been voted into 373 school districts in 37 states… 190,000 students have already taken our course.” North Carolina is on the list.

4 thoughts on “Teaching the Bible?

  1. Alan says:

    Where is this happening? Could you post some links?

    It’s futile, really, to argue against Christianity in … well, in just about anything in the US. They are the majority, and majorities usually get their way; and, sadly, they can make a valid claim that “good Christian values are what this country was founded on,” regardless of the so-called “melting pot” we’re supposed to be — you have freedom of religion as long as the religion you choose is Christianity.

    Anywho, I risk getting off-topic here. I agree with you wholeheartedly, and I further agree from the legal standpoint. Public resources should not be spent to further a particular religion. Now, if it were a class on “sacred texts as literature” or somesuch and if it also included the Qu’ran, the Vedas, the Tao-Te-Ching, and others, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    Christianity doesn’t need additional teaching in US classrooms. I say ‘additional’ because it already gets plenty of coverage from existing Western literature.

    just my ¢2

  2. Miss Fox says:

    The comment below was submitted in April, but was not posted due to bad language/adult themes. This was because, at the time, the rules for posting included no foul language, etc, because I wanted this journal to be kid-friendly. I’ve since changed my mind on that, and thought it only fair to include this comment as a result.

    campmatteo said,
    2 April 2006

    ok.

    i agree: the bible is a text originally written by virtually nameless middle easterner’s renamed by english 17th century aristocrats with protestant anglo-names with protestant anglo-feudalist motives of enslavement and submisson. its simple, “turn the other cheek” essentially means “let your controller control you.” but to say that a] the bible isn’t rich and compelling literature and b] the iliad and the odyssey are less “preachy” are both pretty half-baked suppositions.

    concentrate real hard and place yourself in thebes in bc650.

    give it a second.

    now imagine you and heather are walking to the beach: wooden sandals, braids, leg hair and togas. and you’re about 12 years old. she tells you a story about a woman who stepped too far out into the water and the waves got harsh and the god of the sea pulled her down into his realm to be his wife, or as we would call it today, eternal rape victim.

    explain, in detail, how this isn’t religiously preachy.

    besides that, sit down sometime with a glass of nice wine and read the story of job, or revelations, or hell- anything in the old testament. its some of the most vile, gripping, horrific literature ever. i’d rather read that than the aeneid any day.

    given, the odyssey is pretty cartoony and great, but c’mon the first three books of both the aeneid and the iliad are basically the book of matthew over and over again, and such negativity everywhere. christians are so dark.

    for a good read, sit down sometime when you have 2 months to spare and read the maha’ abaratha. you’ll wish to hell you were hindi.

    in judeo-christianity, moses asks to see god and gets his back.
    in ancient greek polytheism, semele asked to see zeus and was incinerated.
    in buddhism, siddhartha asked for enlightenment and ended up under a tree for something like 30 years.
    in hindu, arjuna asks to see the world of the gods, and krishna’s response?

    yes.

    and he shows arjuna the land of the gods.

  3. Miss Fox says:

    To campmatteo,

    I agree that my personal opinion that the Bible isn’t a good read is not a reason why it shouldn’t be taught in schools. Separation of state and church is a more compelling reason. If somebody wants to study the Bible, what’s to stop them from taking a Bible study course at their church? Or in college?

    Also, I feel that a course in a public school that focuses on any religious text should focus on MULTIPLE religious texts. If they’re going to teach religious texts in schools, they shouldn’t focus on just one.

    The organizations I’ve linked to in the post say that their goal is not to indoctrinate students, or to focus on religion. If that’s the case, why not include texts from other religions? I suppose my major beef with the issue is that it seems like another manipulative way in which Christians are trying to push their beliefs on others. And, quite frankly, there is enough government spending on that.

  4. Linda says:

    Just wanted to say that as a Christian and a public school teacher I do not think there is a real need for a course on the Bible. What I do think is that courses and books should be truthful in explaining what believers “believe” and should not paint Christianity in a negative life. I am a Media Specialist and I am amazed at how books portray Christians as narrow minded and unintelligent etc. I graduated from UNC in 1975 (I was not a believer at that time) and there was a definite an anti-bias opinion toward Christianity in books and my courses.

    Getting back to my first point (that the schools do not need a course on the Bible); well, this is the beauty of the whole thing. Faith in God as a Christian is not a bunch of “words” or “teaching” that makes you become something new. Craming the bible down someones throat or giving them a “list of do and don’ts” is just a bunch of religious works. Christianity is a heart change that is supernatural. It is a relationship with our creator. The Bible says that unbelievers can not understand or recieve spirital truths (you are not understanding me – right!) because they are spiritually understood and until one becomes born again by the spirit of Christ they can not recieve what the Bible says. In John 3 Jesus talked to an educated leader Nicodemus who did not get it and Jesus explined this.

    Anyway, I accepted Christ ( meaning believed that he died for my sins and rose from the dead and put my faith in him as my Lord and Savior) at age 25 and I am now 53 and JESUS has given me life. Real life! I hope you all will at least pray “God if what this lady believes is true then show me”. We all want truth right? So why not ask GOD with a humble heart that if all this “Bible stuff” and Christianity is true and then ask for him to show you if it is true. I pray that you will ask this question with an open heart. By the way, Grace Church behind Lowes is a great church in Chapel Hill where the truth is explained without a bunch of religious stuff.

    Linda

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.