The Bible belongs in all schools, including public ones ó but as
an object of academic study, not of devotion.
Religion and the Bible are among the most powerful influences
shaping society. Students need to know about them. Indeed, any
attempt to understand civilization without them has holes in it.
So we welcome the publication of a high school textbook called "The
Bible and Its Influence." It's a product of the Bible Literacy
Project of Fairfax, Va., whose philosophy is to respect all
religions and not take sides on controversies as to what the Bible
says or means. When those controversies are deemed noteworthy, the
textbook describes them objectively.
Of course, one person's objectivity is another's biased reporting.
So scholars of many persuasions were asked to review multiple drafts
of the book. The finished product is endorsed by a remarkable
variety of both conservative and liberal Christian and Jewish
leaders and experts, as well as at least one agnostic scholar.
The U.S. Supreme Court has never said God couldn't be mentioned in
school. What it has said repeatedly is that government-sponsored
schools must not take sides on matters of religion. That's what the
First Amendment means when it says, "Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof ..."
The new textbook appears to be an honest and diligent effort to pass
that test, rather than what we have seen many times in recent years:
an attempt to sneak religious doctrine into the schools.
With this book, the Bible Literacy Project demonstrates that giving
religion its proper place in the schools can be done, but it's hard
work ó it requires time, scholarship and money. The effort is
worthwhile because religion is important.
(c) Oct 17, 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY