(The LA Times requires free registration to read the full article)
"...Biblical illiteracy is not just a religious problem. It is a civic problem with political consequences. How can citizens participate in biblically inflected debates on abortion, capital punishment or the environment without knowing something about the Bible? Because they lack biblical literacy, Americans are easily swayed by demagogues on the left or the right who claim — often incorrectly — that the Bible says this about war or that about homosexuality.
One solution to this civic problem is to teach Bible classes in public schools. By Bible classes I do not mean classes in which teachers tell students that Jesus loves them or that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, but academic courses that study the Bible's characters and stories as well as the afterlife of the Bible in literature and history. Last week, the Georgia Board of Education gave preliminary approval to two elective Bible courses designed to teach religion rather than preach religion. As long as teachers stick to the curriculum, this is a big step in the right direction. ..."
It's good to read well-reasoned arguments like this from prominent newspapers. I don't agree with all Prothero's assertions in the rest of the article, but I do concur that religious literacy is necessary to understand the forces that drive much of what is happening in the world today -- the good, as well as the bad.