Bible Taught in School

Alongside Dr. Spencer Leak and many of Chicago’s taxpayers, citizens, parents, ministers, community leaders, teachers and others, I am advocating, that the Bible be taught as a part of the CPS curriculum. “The State of the Bible 2013” survey conducted by Barna Group on behalf of the American Bible Society has found that two-thirds of Americans think it is important for public schools to include in their curriculum values based on the Bible.

Voluntary Bible literature and history courses are legally taught in Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. We want our children exposed to the same things as children in the State Funded schools in those various school districts. We want to provide our children the opportunity to receive as much exposure as time, money and will allow. The U.S. Constitution made provisions for it and the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed it’s constitutionality. The dictate is that you can teach the bible in public schools, you just can’t preach the bible in public schools.

Opponents would try to convince people that I and others are promoting something which is controversial or novel. There is no difference between teaching about the Bible, the most prolific best seller in history, which was key to the development of Western Civilization, and the teaching of Egyptian hieroglyphs (/ˈhaɪər.ɵɡlɪf/ hyr-o-glif) or mdw·w-nṯr (god’s words) – A formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood. As well, the bible can be taught just like our public schools teach Greek mythology – the body of myths and teachings that belong to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. It was a part of the religion in ancient Greece. Modern scholars refer to and study the myths in an attempt to throw light on the religious and political institutions of Ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.

Furthermore, it is our obligation to make certain CPS graduates, who enroll in college,  are not ignorant to the historical and literary significance of the bible, in a classroom full of students who were introduced to the bible.

The Supreme Court has ruled that teaching about religion and using the Bible in the classroom may both exist in any curriculum if they are not a part of religious worship, but are integrated as a part of the offerings within a secular program. The Supreme Court in Stone vs. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980). stated that “the Bible may constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like.” Engle v. Vitale (1962) and Abington v. Schemp (1963), The Supreme Court noted that the Bible could be taught as a text but not read for religious purposes. The Supreme Court has said it’s perfectly OK for schools to teach the bible, ruling in 1963 (Abington School District v. Schempp) that “the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as a part of a secular (public school) program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

Lemon v. Kurtzman, 91 S. Ct. 2105 (1971)

Established the three part test for determining if an action of government violates First Amendment’s separation of church and state:

1) the government action must have a secular purpose;

2) its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion;

3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion.

Not only do 66 percent of U.S. adults think teaching the Bible in schools is important, but a whopping 75 percent are of the opinion that teaching about the Bible in public schools could help reinforce moral principles — a viewpoint shared by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. In general, 77 percent of those surveyed believe the morals and values of the nation are on a decline, and that a decline in Biblical literacy was one of the main causes (32 percent) in addition to the media’s negative influence (29 percent) and “corruption from corporate greed” (25 percent).

Abbington vs Schempp a case concerning required Bible-reading at the beginning of the Pennsylvania public, and Murray v. Curlett — a Baltimore statute required Bible-reading or the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at open exercises in public schools, Clearly violate the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment since the readings and recitations were essentially religious ceremonies and were “intended by the State to be so.” Conversely, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that public school education may include teaching about religion. In Abington v. Schempp, Associate Justice Tom Clark wrote for the Court:

“[I]t might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”