Debatable: Should Christians Oppose Teaching the Bible in Public Schools?

[Note: “Debatable” is a occasional feature in which we briefly summarize debates within the evangelical community.]

The Issue: Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett, the producers of the History channel’s hit mini-series The Bible, recently argued in the Wall Street Journal that it’s “time to encourage, perhaps even mandate, the teaching of the Bible in public schools as a primary document of Western civilization.”

Position #1: Faith and culture writer Jonathan Merritt says that too much of the debate has centered around the question of if teaching the Bible is appropriate in a public school setting, but few recognize that the question of how is far more contentious:

Those who teach these courses will most likely be non-literalists trained at secular state universities, not homeschooled conservative evangelicals or Bible college graduates. They may believe that the many “seeming contradictions” of the Bible are actual ones. If asked, they may teach students that the stories of “Jonah and the Whale” or “Noah’s Ark” are mythic allegories, rather than historical accounts of miraculous events.

Do the Christians crying for a reintroduction of Bible courses want their children taught, for example, that the creation account in Genesis is little more than pretty poetry? It’s safe to assume they do not. But most haven’t thought this deeply about the issue.

Position #2: Scot McKnight, Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, believes Merritt’s concern about the character and intent of those who will be teaching the Bible in public schools are overstated and finds other reasons to support such classes:

I see the Bible in a public conversation to be a good thing since it will enhance the reading of the Bible; students are mostly sharp enough not simply to believe whatever a teacher in a public school might teach; this will generate more conversations between parents and their children about the Bible; this will encourage pastors and churches to be more aware of alternative views and it will necessarily sharpen their own readings; one needs to be exposed to alternative views about the Bible; Paul was happy someone was talking about the gospel even if he didn’t like all they were saying; . . .

Scoring the Debate: While Merritt expresses valid concerns about how the Bible will be taught in schools, I believe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. From a pedagogical perspective, teaching the Bible is essential to developing a broad-based education. The Bible is a foundational document of Western culture and any student unfamiliar with the text will fail to understand the thousands of references, allusions, and metaphors used in art, literature, and history. As literary critic E.D. Hirsch, Jr. once claimed, “No one in the English speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible.”

Unfortunately, this form of illiteracy is pervasive in America—even among Christians. Many young evangelicals will heartily proclaim that the Bible is true without knowing much about the actual contents of the book. When confronted by critics of the Bible, they are often incapable of even understanding the arguments being made, much less aware of how to respond effectively. Merritt, however, believes this is a primary reason not to teach the Bible is school:

Conservative Christians should know better than to advocate for such courses. After all, they have long decried the well-documented “liberalizing effect” of public college and universities who offer similar courses. Many conservative Christians leave home for college, take an introduction to religion course, and return with an entirely different worldview than their parents hold. Do they want the same experience with their seventh graders?

In my experience, seventh graders tend to be less academically gullible than college freshman. Young Christians in college tend to be overawed by their teachers (a trait not often shared by their siblings in junior high) and unaware that the criticisms made about the Bible by their professors have been effectively addressed or rebutted by prominent Christian scholars thousands of times before. If exposed to alternate views of the Bible at an early age—and their parents and church leaders intelligently address their questions and concerns—students are more likely to learn how to think for themselves and less less likely to fall for substandard secular perspectives of God’s Word.

What do you think, should the Bible be taught in public schools?

  • Karl Udy

    I am a little surprised by the almost “ignorance is bliss” attitude of Merritt. In a lot of cases (though not all and maybe even not a majority) I believe the problem of college students from conservative backgrounds abandoning their faith in university stems from being only exposed to hyper-literalist readings of Scripture, with at best shallow hermeneutics.

    Our children need to be taught that people do read the Bible differently and why, if we are ever going to equip them to be able to defend the way they read the Bible.

  • Jonathan

    Be taught. Not necessarily from a Christian worldview. Especially more perspectives than fundamentalism

  • CH Stevo

    I think Machen’s basic point regarding school prayer/Bible reading in the 1920s is just as pertinent today: Prayers and readings stripped of their supernatural content is simply paganism. Bare moralism might promote morality among youth, but it also might produce a reaction against the morality without meaning that was in vogue in the early 20th century.

    I absolutely agree that the Bible is essential literature as most all Western lit has been written in the shadow of its influence. But it will most definitely not be the magic elixir that some believe it is–much like the posting of the Ten Commandments.

    If we would like to revitalize the culture, we must pray and work for a rejuvenated church, by the grace of God. We must remember that a vague sense of morality could just as easily contribute to a self-righteous, spiritually-deaf culture rather than the heart-sick, sin-pained culture that years for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Charlie

    It’s difficult for me to pick a side here, but I would cautiously lean towards teaching the Bible in public schools, regardless of the way a teacher might be bent towards it. The truth is, this might be the only opportunity that a student has in his/her entire public academic career to be exposed to the word, and whether or not it’s interpreted correctly is not the issue. They get to hear the word, and no one is saved apart from hearing/reading the word of God. I would agree that it is a potential avenue to hear the latest accusations against the legitimacy of the word of God, and it should help pastors and parents alike to prepare themselves to respond to public criticisms of it. This will produce christian children who know the Bible better and know how to stand for truth in the midst of opposition to it’s claims.

    I believe that exposure to God’s word is always a good thing. God never needed good interpreters to save people. His word stands for itself, and even if there was no one to defend it, it would still accomplish it’s purposes. It never returns void.

  • Cornell Ngare

    While I advocate for the Bible being taught in schools (irrespective of the teacher’s perspective), I am concerned about the criteria that may be used in examining the children’s knowledge. Will their knowledge of the Bible be tested? If this is going to happen, an important distinction needs to be made. It is one thing to examine the children’s grasp of the “facts” in the Bible, but it is a different story to examine their INTERPRETATIONS of those “facts”.

    Will my child fail his biblical studies class because he is persuaded that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, or that the creation story is literal, but his teacher is persuaded otherwise? These presuppositional concerns need to be factored in… unless the Bible is being taught as general knowledge and will not be examinable.

    Either way, I am leaning towards the Bible being taught over ignorance. The danger of being led astray should make parents and pastors more deliberate and “hands on” in their discipleship of children, if they don’t want them to drift away in the non-literalistic secular presuppositional tide.

  • Melody

    My teenage son says “No I don’t want some middle age man teaching my kid the bible and what they think it means.” lol I asked about the middle age man thing because it sounded like ageism. He had a particular teacher in mind when he said it. I think we forget all the different personalities that have teaching degrees.
    We are very careful about who are pastors and elders are that teach us. They have to be qualified spiritually, ethically and character wise.
    Why in the world would we ever allow an atheist liberal to be allowed to pour into our children on what God’s word means? We are talking about people that cannot be fired because they belong to a union no matter how questionable they are in character.

  • Andrew

    For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

    “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)

    “…you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

    As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10,11)

    Now the parable is this, the seed is the Word of God (Luke 8:11)

    If we believe what the Bible says about itself we should gladly accept for it to be taught through any medium. The Words of God contain the power to change life – let it be read anywhere, everywhere and by all who will listen.

    • Mary Kirkland

      Well said. The Bible speaks for itself, and reading it is always better than not reading it.

  • Christian Vagabond

    Ideally I think the Bible should be taught as part of a larger religious education for High School, with a semester on Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and a final semester on Hinduism and Buddhism. Given the multicultural nature of our population it is foolish to assume that families would willingly go along with anything more than a historical survey. The article, for example, suggests a teaching of the Bible that would negate Catholicism and mainline Protestantism. It would be better to cover the material academically (like comparing the Catholic, Jewish, and fundamentalist readings of the Creation stories.)

    But I do think that a religious education is crucial. A big reason is for its historical relevance, but I also think it’s more important for students to understand what their neighbors believe than to reinforce what their Sunday School teachers believe.

  • Robert Wille

    My wife is retired from teaching in the public schools. In any school year, only one or two students per class would have parents who were actively involved in their education. From my (admittedly limited) perspective, the second condition offered in the closing paragraph, “[if] their parents and church leaders intelligently address their questions and concerns”, is too uncertain to take seriously. The first condition is just about guaranteed.

    Because of the current public doctrines of inclusiveness and diversity, the Bible would be presented as something other than what it really is, the story of redemption in Jesus Christ, and most parents of public school children would be unequipped to counter the false teaching. In too many cases, they wouldn’t care to.

  • Darren Blair

    How about we start seeing parents make more of an effort to educate their offspring in the Bible?

    If people are that afraid of a secular Bible class de-converting their kids, then what steps are they taking to ensure that their kids would be strong enough to be unaffected in the first place?

    Not teaching your own children and then wondering why they get carried along is like feeding your kids fast food three meals a day and wondering why they’re obese.

    As an aside, when I was in high school we had a unit on the Bible in 10th grade Advanced Placement English. The literature book we were using had a selection of Bible stories near the back (like Ruth and The Good Samaritan) that were noted for being particularly common in literature and artwork. We studied them *as* literature, and so nobody’s feelings were hurt (or, at least, if they were then people kept silent).

  • Josh Manning

    There’s a difference in allowing our Christian children (who will hopefully be properly discipled at home in proper use of Scripture) to see a wrong interpretation of it at school versus the general population getting a liberalized view of Scripture at school as the norm with no correction at home. Sure we can correct misunderstandings in our own children (we hope), but we can’t deal with a generation of unchurched kids who believe it’s all myth. The society-wide damage is not outweighed by the good in this case.

  • Mark B.

    I would not want an atheist teaching my child the Bible or a muslim or other non believers. It is time for parents to be the ones teaching the kids the Bible. If children don’t come from a Christian background or have Christian parents then the church should seek out ways to teach on the Bible. But leave the schools out of this.

    I even look back into my life in highschool and middle school. Some of those teachers were openly atheist. The Public School setting is not the right place to be teaching the Bible. People can only teach what they know.

    • Cary

      If you don’t want your children’s teachers teaching the Bible because they don’t have the right moral foundation for it then why should they teaching your children anything? This partmentalizing of our lives is what is causing our children to abandon their faith. Every subject is created by God and every subject has a moral foundation. We need to take back education in this country and put it exactly where God intended – the home.

  • Rebecca

    The Spirit will use any kind of teaching and reading of Scripture, either poor or excellent to soften or harden as He sees fit.

  • Trip

    The question is whether it would be taught in history classes or English/literature classes.

  • Mark Stephenson

    I believe in something much more radical than teaching the bible in school. I believe the Bible should be taught in churches.

    By “taught,” I mean Christians in churches should be exposed to various interpretations and views of the Bible. More Christians need exposure to “what is out there” while learning in a Christ-centered, prayerful environment. Too often, Christians who were only taught a fundamentalistic approach to scripture lose their faith in college after taking an intro to bible or intro to religion class.

    The Church has to stop producing “sheltered” Christians who have never been exposed to any views other than the ones that are preached on Sundays.

  • alH

    Thank you, Joe, for a fair-handed article and thanks to all the commenters. In the end, the question is “What does God want?” He hasn’t asked for our counsel as to what decision He should make, rather instructing that we pray according to His will that it may be done.

    We do well to remember that the Bible is God’s Word, referred to as “the sword of the Spirit.” Disciples of Jesus Christ are to take up this sword as an integral part of our armament, but we must not forget that it belongs to the Holy Spirit. We are to bear it in our struggles against the darkness and God’s enemies, but its effectiveness is not limited to our use of it. We depend on His authority and might, not merely on our intellectual skills.

    An example: When I entered public elementary school in the 1940s, there was virtually no restriction on the conduct of my teachers who believed in Christ. Therefore, even those of us from unbelieving households were required to memorize such passages as Matthew 6:9-13 and all of Psalm 23, and to recite them at the beginning of each school day. As a result, I gained a lifelong familiarity with these Scriptures well over a decade prior to hearing Christ’s gospel for the first time.

    This education had no noticeable effect on me at that time, but God no doubt used it toward my later conversion and discipleship. God’s Word is alive and powerful and is the vehicle by which faith comes to the lost. Inspired words from the mouth of a false prophet’s animal were recorded to remind us that the life and power of speech depend on God, to be administered according to His perfect will and at His good pleasure.

    God’s words are holy and they come from His mouth to humanity by divine providence. Regardless what vessel He employs to deliver them, we need never fear that they will return to Him void, for He has promised they will achieve all He has sent them to do.

  • Melody

    My kids are aware of the different points of view of the scriptures including the cult teachings. They know more about mormonism than their mormon friends know at this point.
    They also know that there are very few believing teachers at their school because they can spot the ones that are by their words and deeds. They also can spot the hypocrites quicker than we as parents can.

    I know of no where in scripture where it is advised to learn scripture from an unbeliever. Unbelievers are referred to as the children of Satan.

    As for it spurring conversation, does that person even have teenagers? I’m on numbers 6,7 and 8. Even my most talkative teen didn’t come rushing home to share what he had learned at school that day. Let’s get real.
    Either people have an agenda that they are not being honest about or they are being extremely naive.

    • Darren Blair

      You do realize that by your own logic, I – a practicing Mormon – should be the ones to teach your kids about Mormonism, right?

      After all, you say that someone has “taught” them about the church.

      The long and short of it is that a lot of what people think they “know” about the LDS faith is the same kind of fluff that they fear secular teachers telling their kids about the Bible.

      This is because, as with a lot of critics of the Bible, a lot of critics of Mormonism are behind the times in regards to the latest research and arguments. The end result is that arguments which were responded to years back continue in circulation as if they were still brand new. In fact, in my neck of the woods there are people who still think that we have horns.

    • Darren Blair

      Melody –

      I want to do an object lesson here.

      How about you post one of the things that your kids “know” about the church? That’ll give me a chance to explain matters.

      After all, as a practicing Mormon who better – by your own post – to address the issue?

      • Melody

        You do not know me. You do not know my children. You do not even know the Mormon kids that they are friends with. You certainly cannot speak to their conversations so this is really pointless. I have seen you post and so I’m doubly convinced that this is pointless. So I’m going to pass on the debate.

        • Darren Blair

          …and in so doing, you permit the same type of close-mindedness you fear from school Bible teachers.

          • Melody

            My children love their Mormon friends and speak truth into their lives when the opportunity presents itself. Their love is not closed or discriminatory.

            • Darren Blair

              How do you know that what they’re saying is the truth?

  • Karen Hansen Stepaniak

    When I was a kid, before Madlyn Murrey Ohare, our Bible studies were provided by a local Christian church. On Wednesdays, a bus would transport those kids who’s parents gave permission to the sponsoring church where we would have weekday church school for a couple of hours. The kids left at school got extra art and music classes as well as a longer recess than usual. I loved weekday church school and if bringing the Bible back to school was taught by CHristians, then YES please bring back the Bible and prayers to schools. I believe the problems our society faces are due to not having the moral lessons taught by the Bible at least.

  • Stephen

    I took Bible history in my public high school in North Mississippi. It was an elective therefore not required but most students, believers and unbelievers, took the class because the teacher was popular and a great guy. He was also the school’s cross country coach and FCA sponsor. I learned a lot from Coach C. He also was a Presbyterian youth minister and also preached at a local church plant. You could consider it the ideal situation if the Bible is to be taught in public school. It will not be that way everywhere I’m sure.
    I still have my notebook from the class and could probably still draw out Coach C.’s chart of biblical history. I will never forget him teaching on the 10 plagues in Exodus right before lunch. I think everyone was so grossed out they could hardly eat. Of course he taught from an evangelical perspective but he was respectful and gracious with students who disagreed with him, but he was such a great teacher most students didn’t try to argue but just learn.
    I think it’s great if a school will allow a class on the Bible to be taught but that in no way substitutes for discipleship in the home and local church. In certain areas it would bring serious challenges to a young person’s faith and confidence in the Bible but yet the serpent has always been whispering “did God really say?”. But perhaps it would prepare students to engage teachers in college better. At least in high school a student can go home and talk to their parents about rather than the environment of a college campus.

  • Ryan Groene

    To be honest, as much as I think that it is good for Christians (and even more important for ministers or those who are going to be involved in apologetics ministries) to be somewhat familiar of the various views taken by Bible scholars and even for parents to encourage their children growing up to actively engage with the counter-arguments that they will probably face later on in their lives (I think that lack of exposure to such views is one of the things that causes new college students to begin to question what they’ve been taught before; they suddenly realize that these kinds of views ARE held by intelligent, albeit unregenerate, scholars, and it is easy for this to cause one to feel that the truth has been hidden from them; it is much better that children are prepared for this in advance), but I would argue that public school is not the proper place for this because inevitably students will be hearing those views in school being touted as the only respectable views. To those who have never heard God’s word in any other context, I think the overall effect of this would be negative; it would essentially INCREASE the amount of anti-Christian indoctrination that children with no church background received from a relatively early age. And I feel that the issue of testing would also create a sort of conflict of interest if students began to fail courses because of a conflict between what their parents taught them and what their teachers taught them. This actually brings light to one of the greater problems with public school in general. Considering all of the children who would not be able to afford private school (or whose parents don’t care enough to pay for it), I certainly don’t think the solution is to get rid of it. But if I ever have kids, my plan is to send them to private school.

    I would also like to note that what SOME private Christian schools do is also dangerous. Often these schools suffer from sub-par scholarship (for instance, a good friend of mine grew up going to a Baptist school, and one of his teachers played the class Kent Hovind videos) and teachings of Scripture that disregard historical context and literary genre (i.e. hyper-literalism).

    • Darren Blair

      This goes back to what I was saying earlier about parents needing to be the primary source of Biblical teaching for the children and the youth of the nation.

      If parents start when children are young, then by the time these children become teenagers they’ll have already received at least some degree of background and so will have a point of reference to compare whatever they’re getting told against what their denomination holds as theology.

      In fact, a person can actually walk down to the nearest Dollar Tree and get KJV Bibles for $1 each; there aren’t any study aids and the binding is questionable, but it puts the Bible in far more hands than might otherwise happen. I’m sure that most parents can swing $1 for a Bible and another $1 for a box of pencils to mark passages with.

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  • Mark Zellner

    Teaching the Bible in school as a foundational document of Western culture and literary value is actually a terrific argument, and one I’m surprised I haven’t heard more commonly.

    Regardless, I worry what the end result would be. I worry that teaching the bible erroneously is much more dangerous than not teaching it at all. Twisting God’s truth to make it appear trite/mythical/flawed can and will inoculate students against ever trusting it as a source of spiritual truth. The goal of biblical education falls terribly short if it stops at merely exposing people to the Scripture without bringing them into alignment with its authority.

  • Mark Zellner

    As the old revivalist Leonard Ravenhill used to say,
    “They say we need to get the Bible back in schools. That’s not the problem. We need to get the Bible back in the home!”

    • Darren Blair

      In this day and age, though, there are plenty of ways for a person to get the scriptures in the home.

      Got a reliable internet connection? There are numerous websites where a person can go in order to access the text, such as Project Gutenberg (

      Want something physical? $1+tax gets you a KJV from Dollar Tree.

      There are plenty of ways of getting an actual Bible inside the home; the issue is “getting people to actually read them.”


      As an aside, one of the big things about being Mormon is that the church has the full scriptures, all of the currently accepted Sunday School manuals, *and* copies of the official magazines from ’71 to today online for easy reference.

      I think other denominations should consider keeping material online like this; it’d make it easier for people to read and learn.

      • Rick

        The “full scriptures” are the 66 books of the Bible.

        “Other denominations”? The LDS church is not a denomination of Christianity.

        • Darren Blair

          1. I raised it as an example of what other churches could do in making the official material available to the body of believers.

          2. Since you made the argument, kindly feel free to back it up.

          • Rick

            1. You raised it as an example of what Christian churches could do. I understand. But you incorrectly used “other denominations” since the LDS church is not a denomination of Christianity. I thought it was important enough to point that error out.

            2. No Darren, you made another statement that was misleading at best (“full scriptures”). I have nothing to prove. The burden of proof is on those who follow the works of fiction of one man and accept as truth his “scriptures”.

            Having read them I can testify to you that they are not scripture and that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God.

            • Darren Blair

              So, just assertions then? No citations or other pieces of evidence?

            • Rick

              No Darren, facts. What the LDS lacks is evidence. As I said, there is nothing I need to prove to you.

            • Darren Blair

              Rick –

              Give me an actual argument and I can probably give you the “evidence” you seek.

              Blind nay-saying merely raises the prospect that there’s nothing behind the assertions.

      • Mark Zellner

        Darren, you may have misunderstood the quote. The issue is not that it is physically unavailable, the Bible is present in a lot of homes, believing and unbelieving. The problem is that it is not being taught correctly, if it is being taught at all, that few parents are honestly and actively instructing their children in the Way.

        And the same argument, I would say, extends to public schooling. It is not simply enough to “get the Bible taught in schools”. As you said, the JW’s, Catholics, Mormons, all have a version of ‘scripture’, however they teach it incorrectly, and so it does little good to its hearers.

        • Darren Blair

          Actually, shouldn’t it be on the “proper Christians” to impress upon their kids what the “correct” interpretation of scripture is before it even gets to that point?

          That’s what I was saying in an above post: that Bible study in kids should be the purview of the parents until such time as the children can begin to make their own decisions.

          Remember: I’ve seen entirely too many people try to lecture me about the “proper” interpretation of the Bible without having themselves actually read it. All that does is make me have to teach them what their ministers should have taught them ages ago.

  • Mark Zellner

    Or to put it another way, will Christians be happy and content when the Bible finally IS taught in public schools, but our children come home spouting “full of errors/mythological/moralistic/outdated”

    The author of this article seems to think this is a better start than Scripture’s total absence. I disagree. I would also say that the fight to get it taught in schools, if it is ever won, will be much easier than what follows, the fight to get it taught correctly. Considering we Believers base our lives, doctrine, teaching, and churches off of accurate interpretation of Scripture, AND considering that nearly all cults and wayward denominations got their start from improper interpretation, I am honestly amazed that any believer would see this argument as a good idea!

    • Darren Blair

      So you’d rather people be ignorant than risk them coming into contact with anything that you disagree with?

      Doesn’t matter what religion a person follows; in this day and age, there’s virtually no way to avoid coming into contact with those of other belief systems. Even if you keep them shut in via private schools and/or home-schooling, the minute they hit adulthood they’ve got to enter the real world in some way, shape, or form, and so will collide with different viewpoints eventually.

      Parents need to be teaching their kids well before things get to the point you’re so concerned about, and the congregation should be assisting in the effort.

  • Mark Zellner

    “So you’d rather people be ignorant than risk them coming into contact with anything that you disagree with?”

    Well that depends on how you define knowledge and ignorance of Scripture. I would not want anyone to be ignorant of the Truths of Scripture, but that is altogether different from being ignorant of the Facts of Scripture. Which one will be taught in public schools? If the Scripture were taught in a manner which is at best non-biased (hardly seems possible in our age) I might be okay with it. But I would certainly hesitate to ever sit under the teachings of unbelievers and atheists seeking to educate me on the Book which forms the foundation of my faith. It’s not about “what I agree with”, it’s about what Scripture speaks of itself. I love the works of science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, but there’s a reason I’ve never read his commentary on the Bible – because he was a secular atheist. Why would I need to sit under false teaching? And let’s be honest, that’s exactly what it is, and what we are in for if the Scripture is taught incorrectly in public schools. I’m confused you don’t see this as more of a threat..?

    Certainly I would agree that contact with the world and its teachings is unavoidable and something which parents and churches should prepare their children for. This task of preparation however would likely be hindered by the false representation of teaching the Bible in schools in a manner which would very likely be incorrect. Yes, it could provide an opportunity for honest dialogue with kids about the lies of culture etc. However that doesn’t account for the other 90% of students who don’t come from Christian backgrounds at all, and whose only exposure to the Word of God would be at the hands of men and women who abuse and mishandle it. Sure they would still be exposed to the Bible, a small victory perhaps, but I maintain that the damage would be worse than the benefit.

    • Darren Blair

      How strict is your definition of “Christianity” that you’re presuming only 10% of kids in the nation are “Christian”?

      • mark

        I overstated, a more accurate measurement would be about thirty percent of students in public schools claim to be Christian (various sources). This hardly effects the premise of my position however.

        • Darren Blair

          Nor mine.

          Suppose that you had a kitchen knife you wished to sharpen. Would you grind it against a stone, or would you bury it in the back of the drawer and wait?

          So it is with matters of faith – any faith. If a person confines themselves to just dealing with only those of their own faith, then there’s a limit to how far they can potentially grow. In fact, most of the people who have tried to “save” me over the years were guilty of just that before trying to approach me: they relied on one or two critical sources and called it a day as far as their “research” went, leaving them unprepared for what was to happen.

          In contrast, if a person wants to grow in the faith, they actually need the challenge of looking things up on their own and coming to their own conclusions. In my case, for example, I’ve actually sat through some non-denominational religion and Bible classes just for the sake of getting alternate interpretations of events.

  • Jason Carlisle

    The study of the Bible in public High Schools has been a fixture in Uruguay since early in the 20th Century. This is part of a fully secular (by law) educational system.

    I grew up in Uruguay in the time when the wall of separation of church and state was absolute (it is still higher than in the US). It was the most secular nation in the Americas. Fully 30% of the population considered itself Atheist or Agnostic. And yet, writers, pundits and leaders referenced the Bible. The Bible was highly respected – as literature.

    I never observed any positive effect in terms of the Gospel. It almost seemed to serve to vaccinate young people against giving the Bible any value other than as “Great Masterpiece”.

    I would expect the effect of mandatory Bible education to be along the line of what Merritt suggests.

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  • Chancellor Roberts

    The Bible is the inspired and inerrant written revelation of God, not some piece of “literature.” It is not the same as other religious texts or the same as various pieces of literature. To “teach” it in government schools is to demean and devalue it. For government agents (public school teachers) to teach the Bible in government schools is to engage in Ceremonial Deism (the quasi-official innocuous, meaningless religion of America). So, no, I’m absolutely opposed to the Bible being taught in government schools.

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