bible in the classroom
4/21/2006 02:47:00 PM
A bill in Georgia allows for the Bible to be used as a textbook in public classrooms:
The bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the legislature and is expected to be signed by Republican Governor Sonny Purdue later this month, would make Georgia the first state in the nation to require that the Bible itself be used as the core text in classes on the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. The measure supplanted a proposal, introduced in January by three Democratic state senators, that would have instructed the Georgia Department of Education to develop a state-funded elective course on the Bible and approve a textbook to be used in the class.

The purpose of the new courses, according to the bill, is "to accommodate the rights and desires of those teachers and students who wish to teach and study the Old and New Testaments." Local school systems would decide whether to offer the classes.
Here is an excerpt from the bill establishing the guidelines and purpose of the course.
(1) In implementing this Code section, it is the intent of the General Assembly to accomplish the following objectives:

(A) To equip the student with a fundamental understanding of important literary forms contained in the Bible as well as people and symbols often referred to in literature, art, and music;

(B) To equip the student with a fundamental understanding of important biblical contributions to history, law, American community life, and culture;

(C) To give insight into the world views of America's founding fathers and to understand the biblical influences on their views of human rights;

(D) To provide a greater knowledge of Middle Eastern history, geography, religion, and politics; and

(E) To inform the students of the importance of religion in world and national history, without imposing the doctrine of any particular religious sect.

(2) In implementing the course provided for in this Code section, it is the intent of the General Assembly that the following terms and guidelines shall apply:

(A) 'Secular purpose' is defined as those studies which instill in students values such as independent thought, tolerance of diverse views, self-respect, maturity, self-reliance, and logical decision making, and those studies which give students great insight and appreciation of literature, the arts, politics, history, law, social studies, and current events. Secular purpose, for example, should not mean 'nonreligious purpose' but 'general public purpose';

(B) The studies shall be structured and presented in such a manner that the presentation of material neither enhances nor inhibits religion. Inculcation or proselytization of any particular doctrine, dogma, religious belief, or theory is prohibited;

(C) There shall be no requirement that a teacher shall have a particular religious belief (or nonreligious belief) or persuasion in order to conduct religious studies;

(D) Funds for the presentation of instruction shall be provided by the school board. If school board funding is not available, then the funds may be raised by the private sector;

(E) The teaching about religion in public schools and the presentation or offering of an elective course in Bible study, comparative religion, or both in the secondary schools is expressly permitted and is constitutional;

(F) Study of the Bible should stress the influence of the Bible on history, culture, the arts, and contemporary issues;

(G) Study of the Bible should permit and encourage a comprehensive and balanced examination of the entire spectrum of ideas and attitudes pertaining to it as a component of human culture;

(H) Study of the Bible should examine the religious dimension of human experience in its broader cultural context, including its relation to economic, political, and social institutions as well as its relation to the arts, language, and culture;

(I) Study of the Bible should be objective and nonsectarian;

(J) Study of the Bible should be academic in nature, stressing student awareness and understanding, not acceptance and conformity;

(K) Study should be descriptive and nonconfessional and should be conducted in an environment free of advocacy;

(L) Study should seek to develop and utilize the various skills, attitudes, and abilities that are essential to history and the social sciences, that is, locating, classifying, and interpreting data; keen observation; critical reading, listening, and thinking; questioning; and effective communication;

(M) Study of the Bible should be academically responsible and pedagogically sound, utilizing accepted methods and materials of the social sciences, history, and literature; and

(N) Study about the Bible should center on the biblical text itself rather than extraneous material and theories which might express a particular theological position rather than the historical presentation found in the Bible.
My initial reaction was objection. I questioned whether or not I really want the Bible to be taught in high schools, but after reading the bill, I think the intent was to show how the Bible has influenced culture. The bill says that the Bible should be taught objectively, and is not a matter of teaching doctrine or dogma from a sectarian point of view.

On paper, this sounds good, but in reality, I am not sure that it is possible. The Bible nowadays is a polemic device that is being used to garners supporters for certain candidates. In Georgia, the bill received a large Democratic backing because of the democrats are anxious to get the religious vote. Georgia has traditionally been a stronghold of religious conservatism.

The only problem this bill may create is it will open the door for other religious texts to be taught in high schools, such as the Koran, Hadith, Apocrypha, pseudopygraphal writings, and extra-canonical texts. I hope that it will remain objective, and teachers will not give Christians a bad name by being dogmatic about their approach, and that the students who listen will receive the instruction critically, not from a predetermined mindset.

Comments: 2
Blogger joe kennedy said at 4/21/2006 11:31 PM...
re-read your first sentence. =)
Blogger the fundamentalist said at 4/22/2006 10:02 AM...
"sued" instead of "used"...I can't prrofreed my own dang stuff.
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