Green Room

Teaching the Bible in CA Public Schools

posted at 3:42 pm on July 6, 2010 by

It hardly seems possible that with California’s irreligious reputation, a school district would choose to add the bible to its curriculum.  But the  Chino Valley School District has done so.

Beginning this fall, high school seniors of the Chino Valley School District will have the chance to enroll in a new course called “Bible as/in Literature and History.”

[The class] will offer a survey of the Bible, beginning with the historical context of the Old Testament, and then will focus on the New Testament later in the semester. It will also provide students with a historical knowledge of the Middle East.

I’m certainly not opposed to students learning that yes, Israel was a nation long before 1948, and that Jews have been a part of that region for thousands of years.  Perhaps that will reduce the number of people who think they should “go back” to Germany and Poland.  If high school seniors learn Jewish history, then maybe Jewish students will be safer on California college campuses where Israel is routinely de-legitimized.

If it really is taught in that way, it could be a valuable addition to the curriculum.  But the article leads me to believe it’s a back door effort to proselytize.  Fred Youngblood, president of the Board of Education, said, “It is my belief that better understanding the Bible will help all students with their decision-making process. …The Bible has been a part of my life ever since I could remember. It has had a very positive influence on me and my family.   It is my hope that our students will have a better understanding of the impact the Bible has had on all that surrounds us.”

Social cons will celebrate this development.  California schools have whitewashed Islam and allowed Islamic proselytism, they’ll argue, and this doesn’t even come close to counterbalancing that.   But fiscal cons will groan, and rightfully so.  California already has a budget shortfall of more than $25 billion. Chino Valley School District already must cut the budget by $30 million.   Now is not the time to add an inevitable, expensive, legal battle.  Social cons would do better to work at getting Islam (and other religions) out of the schools rather than getting their own in.

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Cross posted to Pursuing Holiness.

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Ironic, that this should happen in Calfornia of all places, and not long after I dug my own bible out of its storage to read again.

Now is not the time to add an inevitable, expensive, legal battle. Social cons would do better to work at getting Islam (and other religions) out of the schools rather than getting their own in.

How sad is it that The Bible is controversial anymore? Why should we need a legal battle at all to defend something that we didn’t need to defend as recently (by historical standards) as 200 years ago?

Sad.

gryphon202 on July 6, 2010 at 4:42 PM

To paraphrase a line in “Inherit the Wind” from memory:

“The Bible is a book. It’s a good book. But it’s not the only book. How would you like it if someday the Bible was banned from classrooms?” (or something like that)

The Bible was taught in schools for a LONG time. At one time, teaching the Bible was required in order to qualify for federal funding. We seem to have survived that history. We don’t seem to be surviving as well now that it is no longer allowed.

Daggett on July 6, 2010 at 5:30 PM

It’s already legal. The question is pointless.

splink on July 6, 2010 at 8:15 PM

I didn’t realize that “legality” is a sufficient answer to whether under a certain set of circumstances a particular decision ought to be made.

Patrick Ishmael on July 6, 2010 at 8:19 PM

I think government schooling is an almost complete disaster, can’t wait to see how they’ll screw this one up.

Seriously, I think it’s pointless to discuss details about what they teach in public schools because most of them will get it wrong, no matter what it is.

Pretty much for my whole life, the Federal and State agencies behind “education” have increasingly promulgated rules, carrots, sticks, and “time bombs” that have rendered the efforts of the few teachers who actually both care and are competent less and less effective. I don’t think it can be fixed, just replaced, and that isn’t exactly a piece of cake.

Merovign on July 6, 2010 at 8:21 PM

Call the class comparative religions 1A…christianity. Make it an elective, and offer 1b-islam, 1c-hindu. Better yet….offer it the same way languages are offered. French, spanish, german, etc.

Fighton03 on July 6, 2010 at 8:23 PM

I don’t know if it’s legal, but if that’s how they want to teach the Bible, I don’t think they should. I’d much prefer a class on general religion/lack of religion. It’d be great for society as a whole if children grew up understanding a bit more about religion.

Esthier on July 6, 2010 at 8:29 PM

I’m always conflicted on things like this. US government is based around a belief in God-given natural rights, and I don’t believe our system of government can long endure unless a majority of the population continues believing in those rights and the God who gave them. So I have no reservation in saying that it is in the interest of the US government to encourage religious devotion – and indeed, if I’m not mistaken, some other English-speaking nations acknowledge this openly. On the other hand, I certainly don’t want the government to become the decided of what constitutes religious truth, so I’m always wary of any government involvement at all.

David Shane on July 6, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Bible as Literature courses are common place in school districts in other states. I took one myself.

No proselytizing took place. The subject was well rounded and intermixed with philosophy of the various time periods as well as a study of the various analysis and techniques used to date and verify the various books of the Bible.

That the Bible is the precursor upon which many of the great events of Western Civilization have been spurred on an elective and optional class offering of it is at least worthwhile as a subject to study.

Golly, let’s get rid of teaching zero because of it’s Islamic nature then…

Skywise on July 6, 2010 at 8:35 PM

The Bible has been tested, dissected, researched and carbon-dated as much as any other historical document — or, more accurately, set of documents — including the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Its historicity has been established by multiple scholars over the centuries.

Some practitioners of Christian apologetics, such as Dinesh D’Souza, like to hypothesize there is more historical evidence supporting the existence of Jesus than of Socrates and other historical figures found in literature and history textbooks.

Terrie on July 6, 2010 at 9:00 PM

I think we should *go the extra mile* before we *wash our hands* of this issue because *as we sow, so shall we reap*.

Often it’s a case of *the blind leading the blind* when it comes to the ‘separation of church and state’ and, more often than not with some people, it’s *casting pearls before swine*.

Still, it is important to give students an appreciation of how many common phrases are attributed to the Bible.

As we saw on the Jay Leno’s 4th July clip that *The writing’s on the wall* when it comes to historical knowledge – heck I got those American history questions right and I’m not even American.

The same goes with The Bible. *The powers that be* at the school should be congratulated on making this move, since so often *the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak*.

Yes, ‘fiscal cons’ and atheists may well object, after all *render under Caesar, that which is Caesars* and all, but you have to wonder how much objection is *sour grapes*.

This issue is not going to *bite the dust* anytime soon as those *salt of the earth* folk realise what an advantage teaching The Bible genuinely is.

Good on this school district, by all means teach the Bible as history and literature, because *a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush*.

– Nora Charles

The Thin Man Returns on July 6, 2010 at 9:04 PM

Golly, let’s get rid of teaching zero because of it’s Islamic nature then…

Skywise on July 6, 2010 at 8:35 PM

By the by, there’s actually significant evidence to suggest Muslims co-opted the shape and concept of zero from the Hindu Indians.

– Nora

The Thin Man Returns on July 6, 2010 at 9:06 PM

The Bible has been tested, dissected, researched and carbon-dated as much as any other historical document — or, more accurately, set of documents — including the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Its historicity has been established by multiple scholars over the centuries.

Terrie on July 6, 2010 at 9:00 PM

Few dispute that the Bible is an old book. It is certainly appropriate to teach it as literature. What’s debatable is how reliable it is as accurate history.

dedalus on July 6, 2010 at 9:11 PM

What’s debatable is how reliable it is as accurate history.

dedalus on July 6, 2010 at 9:11 PM

You can take it to the bank that its historicity is as reliable as the military memoirs of Julius Caesar — that has been proven to scholarly satisfaction. Now, whether those memoirs and the New Testament are actually truth, one must determine the character of the original authors (which I’ll agree is highly debatable), that being nearly *impossible* from a strictly scholarly standpoint.

I mean, for the love of God (pun intended), we’re still debating over whether William Shakespeare wrote his own plays…

gryphon202 on July 6, 2010 at 9:32 PM

That was a course at my public high school

What’s the big deal?

JeffersonFan on July 6, 2010 at 9:42 PM

Bible is plural

Observation on July 6, 2010 at 9:56 PM

I mean, for the love of God (pun intended), we’re still debating over whether William Shakespeare wrote his own plays…

gryphon202 on July 6, 2010 at 9:32 PM

Perhaps Shakespeare was just a convenient pen name for the Earl of Oxford. I’d not go that far, but likely not everything attributed to The Bard was written by him. I’m more certain that we are missing important pieces of his plays–such as much of the first act of Macbeth.

Caesar’s history of his own military prowess needs to be read with ample skepticism.

dedalus on July 6, 2010 at 10:02 PM

Perhaps Shakespeare was just a convenient pen name for the Earl of Oxford. I’d not go that far, but likely not everything attributed to The Bard was written by him. I’m more certain that we are missing important pieces of his plays–such as much of the first act of Macbeth.

Meh, that’s just sour grapes from the Salieri-writers of the world. ;)

Skywise on July 6, 2010 at 10:06 PM

Caesar’s history of his own military prowess needs to be read with ample skepticism.

dedalus on July 6, 2010 at 10:02 PM

And yet, they are taught as history in more high schools than the bible is. Right or wrong, the whole sad situation is not impartial.

gryphon202 on July 6, 2010 at 10:25 PM

Much of Western history and literature cannot be understood without understanding the Bible. But, in our educational establishment run by libs, most truth encountered by students will only be by accident or independent action. That a basic foundational document like the Bible is treated with anything but interest and respect is a sure sign of how far academia has strayed from its supposed mission.

snaggletoothie on July 6, 2010 at 10:43 PM

The Bible was taught in schools for a LONG time. At one time, teaching the Bible was required in order to qualify for federal funding. We seem to have survived that history. We don’t seem to be surviving as well now that it is no longer allowed.

Daggett on July 6, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Northwest Ordinance required it used in teaching.

Tim Burton on July 6, 2010 at 11:43 PM

Much of Western history and literature cannot be understood without understanding the Bible.

When I was in school, we had to study the Greek/Roman gods so we could understand the allusions to them in literature. However, nothing from the Bible was taught — not even as literature. That left the student who were not practicing Christians at a severe disadvantage when we read works with allusions to the Bible (i.e., Moby Dick).

It really needs to be included in literature courses because of its importance to the development of the English language and literature.

CJ on July 6, 2010 at 11:59 PM

At one time, teaching the Bible was required in order to qualify for federal funding. We seem to have survived that history. We don’t seem to be surviving as well now that it is no longer allowed.

Daggett on July 6, 2010 at 5:30 PM

This is news to me. I’ve never heard of the fact that teaching the Bible was required in order to qualify for federal funding.

Not to challenge you but just for my own intellectual curiosity, do you have a link or source for that?

Northwest Ordinance required it used in teaching.

Tim Burton on July 6, 2010 at 11:43 PM

If you actually read the text of the Northwest Ordinance, no where does it state that the Bible is required textbook for teaching:

Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and, in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity, shall from time to time be made for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.


Section 14, Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance

In lawyer speak, the language of the Northwest Ordinance is religion and morally neutral. It doesn’t favor one religion or its system of values over another.

Presumably, the founding Fathers would have no problem with the Talmud, The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Koran, Rig-Veda, or any other any other religious text in the class room so long as it actually transmitted faith, knowledge and good morality to the students.

I know that that idea will rub many Social Conservatives the wrong way because but the Founding Fathers were quite open to people of faith teaching their faith to others.

As David Barton, a frequent guest on Glenn Beck’s show points makes the following point about the founding fathers:

Because of Biblical influences and Christian civil leadership in colonial America, Americans early adopted a Free-Market approach to religion, establishing that approach in law and policy. Significantly, Christian leaders did not advocate this approach because they were indifferent to Christianity or because they believed all religions were equal; they held an opposite position on both points. However, based on Biblical teachings, Christians believed that individuals must make their own voluntary choices about their own faith, and then live with the consequences, even if that choice meant (from a Christian’s viewpoint) the difference between Heaven and Hell.

Source.

In essence the Northwest Ordinance is religion neutral because they wanted to promote the traditional religious and moral values – values that are embraces by everyone (and by all) of those groups.

Conservative Samizdat on July 7, 2010 at 1:04 AM

Way way back in the olden days when I was in high school (late sixties/early seventies) we read the King James Bible in English, as literature. It was the only assigned book that required parental written permission.

Cindy Munford on July 7, 2010 at 1:06 AM

The only thing that kind of makes me a little uneasy is teachers who may not believe as I do, teaching the Bible to students in a way that I would consider falsely and heretical for lack of a better term.

scott_lauritzen on July 7, 2010 at 3:55 AM

As an elective, I have no problem with the bible being taught in school. If it was required, then I’d have more than a few objections.

Vic on July 7, 2010 at 5:31 AM

You can’t accurately teach history without extrapolating on the massive influence the Bible has had.

jimmy2shoes on July 7, 2010 at 6:56 AM

Why is this news?

Because leftists will screech and whine and sue.

When will normal people wake up and stop paying respect to a group and an ideology that wants to see them dead?

leereyno on July 7, 2010 at 7:11 AM

Considering the enormous impact the Bible has had on American culture, a proper understanding of America can not be had without knowing the content of the Bible.

One reason being that historically the Bible was often the main book from which children learned to read (being taught by their mothers).

For an example of how this has effected American history, look no further than Common Sense, which explicitly cites the Bible as justification for overthrowing the monarchy.

Sackett on July 7, 2010 at 8:15 AM

A full 6 years of comparative religion a couple hours a week would be very informative and good. It should explicitly include atheism and agnosticism. It should explicitly include as many other religions as fit. And, indeed, one year should be devoted to the study of the Bible as history and literature. That way agnostics and atheists would know that which they are rejecting. And Christians would know the other religions that they are tempted to reject and discriminate against without understanding what they are doing.

{^_^}

herself on July 7, 2010 at 9:42 AM

And Christians would know the other religions that they are tempted to reject and discriminate against without understanding what they are doing.

{^_^}

herself on July 7, 2010 at 9:42 AM

Show me a religion that doesn’t claim to be an exclusive truth. Any.

gryphon202 on July 7, 2010 at 11:41 AM

This post has been promoted to HotAir.com.

Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Ed Morrissey on July 7, 2010 at 4:49 PM