Saturday, March 24, 2007

The cover of Time this week--Bible in the Public Schools

As a child who grew up studying the constitutional doctrine and practical applications of the separation of church and state, my faith and political journey the past couple of years has certainly made me rethink so many, many things. I grew up studying the constitutional doctrine of the separation of Church and State and how it got applied to my life. I was glad (and my parents sad) when the Supreme Ct. decided that kids should no longer be required to recite The Lord's Prayer each day before school. (That's still a good thing -- unless they start to teach prayer traditions of other faiths and recite them too and perhaps have a moment of silence for the atheists, which would not be a bad way to go either. Have you ever read the Sanskrit version of The Lords Prayer? I subscribed to "prayer of the day" on so I could learn some prayers of other faiths and other Christian traditions.)

I was a "church going child" who took her Christian Education in Sunday School about as seriously as any grade-schooler could. I cooperated with the teacher on most Sundays and tried to learn the stories (and not ask too many questions when things just didn't make sense). I had some pretty good "church ladies" including my mother and others teaching me, but none of them were seminary trained and certainly didn't have answers to the "tougher/larger" questions. It was a rare moment that I picked up the Bible just to read it just to read. (Except perhaps as self-imposed penance for some act of which I was trying to repent.)

Nothing has changed for todays' kids. There is even more to occupy time than reading one's Bible today than there was 40 years ago. I hang around and listen to my friends who are seminary graduates and read books with Biblical references and I sometimes feel like a slouch--even though I'm too hard on myself. I'm modestly well-read (but I'm finding that as the parent of a child with a learning disability I'm becoming a bit less "head focused" and more "heart focused". But I do worry about what my kids will and won't learn about the Bible and other seminal texts of the major world religions. Even though my kids are very fortunate to have an ordained minister who freelance writes adult and student curriculum and a Protestant publishing company curriculum writer who have teamed up to develop materials and teach Sunday School each week (or feeding materials to others to do the teaching) these lessons often feature a secular, not Biblical, story as the main or supplemental lesson theme. My kids now listen to the messages in church. But I'm still not sure how much of the Bible my kids will be retaining in their 2 hours each Sunday morning.

So, what about teaching my kids the Bible in the public school? This article addresses what would be some of my main concerns: teaching or preaching? who's the teacher? what does the text look like? Will it be comparative to other religions? should other religions get "equal time"? And perhaps the issue I still grapple with the most--whether a book that has been so misused to justify so many horrific things over the millenia, should continue to be taught at all (check out the ROTC student quote). Yet the Bible is not going to disappear from public consumption--in fact quite the opposite is true. For that reason alone, it is important to "get Biblically literate".

Here's the article...,8816,1601845,00.html

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