Does the Bible Have a Place in Your Classrooms?

By Thomas Hutton

Offering a Bible literacy class is something many school leaders want to embrace, but in some quarters of the country, it is a controversy few want to touch. If recent trends are any indication, more school boards will need to take a hard look at this question in the future.

Over the last three years, school boards in several states have been approached by citizens who want districts to offer Bible literacy as an elective high school course. Since the Bible Literacy Project published a new textbook, The Bible and Its Influence, in September 2005, state legislatures in Georgia and Texas have approved measures allowing the classes to be offered.

Last year, Time magazine published a favorable cover story on “The Case for Teaching the Bible.” That was followed last October by the Alabama state board of education’s decision to add The Bible and Its Influence to its list of state-approved textbooks.

Meanwhile, the adoption of another nationally promoted Bible curriculum was the focus of a lawsuit brought in May 2007 against Texas’ Ector County Independent School District. The lawsuit claimed that the curriculum supported by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) promotes viewpoints favored by evangelical Christian groups. In March, the school board agreed to settle the lawsuit and have a committee of educators select a new curriculum for the 2008-09 school year.

The positive and negative reactions to Bible courses highlight the kind of debates that could be coming to a school district near you. So how should you prepare?

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