Bible Literacy Project News
Attacking cultural illiteracy: The Bible and its influence
By Chuck Colson
Opinion — CHRISTIAN EXAMINER
the short story we just read," said a public high school English
teacher, "there's a reference to one of the characters 'washing his
hands' of the situation. Does anyone know where that phrase comes
from?" Most students stared blankly, but several sheepishly raised
their hands. "The Bible," said one nervously. "Exactly," said the
teacher, who went on to explain how Pontius Pilate washed his hands
to symbolize that he was not responsible for Jesus' death and the
meaning of the allusion in the story.
Is this an example of unconstitutional religion in the public
schools? No, of course not. The Supreme Court made it clear years
ago that the Bible can be studied in public school as long as it is
"presented objectively as part of a secular program of education."
It's legal, and it's necessary.
As a Chicago Tribune editorial put it, "Trying to understand
American literature and history without some knowledge of the Bible
is like trying to make sense of the ocean despite a complete
ignorance of fish." Western culture was built on the Bible. Our
literature, music, history, and politics are permeated with biblical
themes and biblical language.
Commenting in the Los Angeles Times, David Gelernter asked, "Can you
understand American culture without knowing the biblical context of
'covenant,' 'promised land,' 'shining city on a hill'?" The answer
is a resounding, no. Cultural literature begins with Bible literacy.
That leaves one question unanswered: If it's legal to teach the
Bible in public schools and it should be taught, how should we teach
Recently, the Bible Literacy Project unveiled the answer in the form
of a new high-school textbook called The Bible and Its Influence.
The book looks at the Bible as literature and goes on to discuss the
Bible in literature, the arts, and history. It's also a beautiful
volume filled with some of the great art the Bible inspired.
The Bible Literacy Project is a non-partisan, non-profit
organization dedicated to research and public education on the
academic study of the Bible in schools. Led by Chuck Stetson (a
Wilberforce Centurion), the project has taken great care to create a
textbook that is fair and academically sound, but avoids being
prejudiced toward any canon or doctrine. That is, it has been vetted
as to scholarship and to its being constitutional as a public high
As Marc Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Congress and
an expert on church-state law says, "[The book] will serve as an
excellent and even-handed introduction to the Bible. Without
question, it can serve as the basis for a constitutional course
about the Bible in the nation's public schools."
This represents a rare opportunity for us. The Bible and Its
Influence is a great resource for anyone looking for a comprehensive
academic understanding of the roots of modern civilization.
So I hope you let teachers, administrators, and school board members
in your community know that they can teach the Bible in school
without fear of being sued, and that a necessary resource, if they
are to provide a well-rounded education, is this kind of a book.
Copyright© 2005 Prison Fellowship Ministries
BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries
break point charles