literature, language and history. The guidelines for the book were
endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Assn.
of Evangelicals, the Council on Islamic Education and the People for
the American Way Foundation, as well as the First Amendment Center,
though none have seen the text yet. Does the new textbook go far
enough in teaching the Bible? Does it go too far?f7
Aren't churches and synagogues doing a good enough job teaching
I believe the Bible can be referenced in a public school classroom
without doing violence to the Establishment Clause. But can the
sectarian book of sectarian books be taught in a neutral manner --
academically and objectively -- by teachers whose attachment to
sacred text is on a different level than their enjoyment of
Shakespeare, without subjecting students to undue religious
influence? Is this not another weapon in the arsenal of those who
seek to insinuate religion into secular education? Isn't this agenda
related to introducing Intelligent Design as a stalking horse for
Yes, the Bible contains history, but it is sacred history. Yes, it
features magnificent poetry, but it is verse that extols God.
The Bible is about sin against God and redemption by God,
rebellion against God and return to God. It is about establishing a
sacred society whose foundation is the God who created all things,
about reward bestowed by God for obedience and punishments meted out
by God for infractions, about the blessings of heaven and the
deprivations of hell. The Bible's claim for itself is the truth.
Is this the stuff of secular education? Does it not provide an
invitation for either proselytizing by believers or sneers by
nonbelievers? Does it not open the door to abuse?
Worse yet, wouldn't presenting it as simply another course
requirement only elicit what other requirements often produce: a
"We turn now, to the Bible, another in our series of boring
"Please open our next book of poetry, the Bible."