Monday, May 22, 2006

Georgia to Teach Bible - Christianity Today Magazine

Georgia to Teach Bible - Christianity Today Magazine:
Democrats and Republicans disagreed about what to use as a textbook.
by James Jewell in Atlanta | posted 05/19/2006 09:30 a.m.

Georgia recently became the first state to call for elective public high-school courses about the Bible. The new bill, passed overwhelmingly in late March and signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue in April, allows for the state school board to develop a curriculum by February 2007.

State Sen. Doug Stoner, a Democrat, said, "Students need to know the Bible to understand Western civilization and Western literature."

Democrats had proposed using The Bible and Its Influence as the course's textbook. But Republicans—who control both houses of the Georgia legislature—required that the Bible itself be used. Local school districts, teachers, and even students will decide what version of the Bible to use as a textbook.
It really isn't a matter of great controversy that Biblical literacy is a great adjunct to understanding history, literature, and the United States form of government. The question is how will the Bible be taught and how will this be carried out without the government "endorsing" a particular religion.

This is a year evenly divisible by two -- that means U.S. Congressional elections, and for most states, statewide and local elections. This may account for the fact that Georgia Democrats and Republicans are promoting their two options in an exclusive sort of way. At least it isn't a year evenly divisible by four. ...

The textbook in question being proposed by the Democrats was written to stay within the bounds set by the U.S. Constitution, and at the same time teach how the Bible influenced many spheres of human endeavors. Many Evangelical Christians support this book, and are more than happy to see it used in such a way. But the Republicans have a valid point, too -- the Bible itself should be part of the currcular material.

If teachers and students use the textbook by itself, then they might learn only what the textbook has to say about the Bible. If the Bible is the sole text, then they are deprived of important perspectives on how Biblical themes influenced authors, poets, and politicians.

Why not use both? Use the textbook, but allow students to bring their own Bibles to class. Have some Bibles on hand for those who don't have one at home. Don't worry about versions. The important thing is to encourage students to go to the source when given the opportunity. And I imagine there will be plenty of opportunities in such a course to refer to the Bible itself.

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