The Bible, like it or not, is an integral part of American
culture. By not addressing the Good Book in school curricula,
Georgia's school systems are doing a disservice to students who were
not raised as Christians.
I know — I'm one of them.
Although the Bible was an important source of inspiration and
information to me during my upbringing in a Unitarian Universalist
congregation, it wasn't the only religious ideology I drew from. I
spent my childhood learning a little about many different religions
and philosophies. As a result, my understanding of Bible specifics
I know what many of you are probably thinking: religious teachings
should stay in the churches and in the home. Both the First
Amendment and I agree with you. Faith shouldn't be state-sponsored.
But the academic benefits of learning the Bible as history and
literature shouldn't be ignored.
Not knowing all the Bible facts wasn't an issue for me during my
public school years until I took Advanced Placement English my
junior year at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee.
Some books we studied — Milton's "Paradise Lost," Dante's "The
Inferno" — were inspired directly by the Bible. I knew from the
start I'd be behind some of my fellow students during these
discussions. What I wasn't prepared for was how often biblical
symbolism would crop up in nonreligious texts.
is a magazine journalism and history student at the
University of Georgia.
Many of my school peers were much more versed than I in the
Bible's words. Often, I was clueless when discussion turned toward
Christian symbolism found in Shakespeare's plays or 19th-century
poetry. Already shy, how could I ask about a subject some of my
peers had spent a lifetime studying? I can't imagine I was the only
student in this situation.
Opening the Bible in the classroom could enrich the education of
non-Christian students — and not just in English classes. Could a
Hindu art student with no Christian background understand the
religious symbolism of Renaissance-era paintings as a Catholic
student might? You bet.
Today, Georgia's history classes are overloaded with information and
students can learn about religion only superficially. An elective
social science course on all the major religions would help solve
this problem — if it is presented in a secular, purely educational
I saw this done when I took a religion class last fall at the
University of Georgia. The instructor and the 30 students in the
classroom made no attempt to turn our survey of Judaism,
Christianity and Islam into religious rampages. If college-level
teachers can handle this responsibility, why can't high school
As immigrants from all over the world bring new cultures to Georgia,
new religions — or new interpretations of familiar religions — are
brought into the state as well. Letting students learn more about
these new religions — or more about their own religion — in an
objective, educated manner will help Georgia youth understand more
about their own culture, the nation and the world.
© 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution