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Washington Post:
Bible Book Made for Public Schools

October 2, 2005

At a time of increasingly heated debate over the proper role of religion in public schools, a Fairfax-based nonprofit group took on a sensitive mission: creating a high school textbook about the Bible that would be equally acceptable to evangelicals and civil liberties activists.

The product of those labors, "The Bible and Its Influence," was unveiled last month. And so far the textbook has won plaudits from religion and First Amendment scholars, who say that it succeeds in explaining the Bible's themes and impact on art, literature and music without promoting religion or endorsing any particular faith.

"Simply put, there was nothing out there -- no Bible textbook, no curriculum guide, no secondary resource -- that I would recommend for use in a public school. Nothing, that is, until now," said Charles C. Haynes, senior scholar of the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center.

Eight percent of teenagers in public schools have access to an elective Bible course, according to the Bible Literacy Project, the nonprofit group that spent six years developing the textbook. Leaders of the group, noting that there are more than 1,300 biblical references in the works of Shakespeare alone, say failure to teach about the Bible has made students culturally illiterate.

2005 The Washington Post Company


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