Bible study tricky proposition for NC schools

Posted March 5, 2013

— Although the Wake County Public School System and several other districts have taught the Bible from a historical perspective in recent years, a legislative proposal to create a Bible study elective in North Carolina high schools creates a thorny issue for teachers.

State Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, last week filed Senate Bill 138, saying school districts should have the flexibility to offer the elective Bible course if students and parents want it.

"If we want to provide a well-rounded education for students, certainly we want that to include religious experience for human beings," said Jeremy Hustwit, chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Methodist University in Fayetteville.

Hustwit said poetic and lyrical biblical verses have inspired kings and presidents through the ages.

"Everything from Shakespeare to legal documents reference passages from the Bible," he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union says, however, that Bible study should be left to the home and church.

"(It's) notoriously difficult to teach in a constitutional manner," the ACLU says.

Bingham's bill states that the class would maintain religious neutrality, allowing students to learn the "history, style (and) societal influence" of the Bible.

Bible Some say all religious texts should be taught

"We teach religion as part of our course – not necessarily the theological aspects, but the history of religion. So, it's kind of in our curriculum in different ways," said Kevin Hight, a social studies teacher at Terry Sanford High School.

Hunter Bell, a senior at Terry Sanford High, said he doesn't see a Bible study class "intruding" on anyone.

"Even if you're not a Christian, it would be an opportunity to give you that much more knowledge about a subject that's common. You know, you're going to see it in life," Bell said.

Hustwit said that stance is a red flag for him.

"The idea that you can introduce the Bible – just one religious text – as a historical document without including any of the others" is unbalanced, he said.

Students should learn about the sacred texts of many religions if they're going to learn about the Bible, he said.


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  • Lightfoot3 Mar 7, 2013

    "I realize even more that it is not going to be very long before the Lord returns. " - Granny

    Very few of today's "Christians" will be called up.

    "ACLU is godless any way." - Sherlock

    The ACLU is certainly comprised of people that believe in gods, but when pursuing matters related to the constitution we shouldn't really care what Vishnu, Amon-Ra, etc. thinks.

  • kermit60 Mar 7, 2013

    If your teaching politics do they teach kids to be republican or democrats? Or do they just teach the different concepts and designs. Why couldn't you do the same for religion. I figure if our government can spend millions building Mosques for Muslims overseas we can spend tax money teaching our kids about religion.

  • sinenomine Mar 7, 2013

    The ACLU isn't godless, as Sherlock said. It merely doesn't want taxpayers to be forced to pay for indoctrination in religions of which they may not approve. That's fine in some countries where the religion is state-supported but it's contrary to the law here.

    Does God have so few selling points in His favor that He has to enlist the public schools of the country to get His message across? Are churches, ministers, and Christian parents powerless to do so? What kind of religion is so unattractive that it has to be forced down peoples' throats with required public prayers or meaningless daily recitations of "one nation, under God" in order to take hold? Christianity was here a long time before the United States of America and, I trust, will survive it. The power of the government is not necessary for the support of the kind of Christianity to which I subscribe.

  • sinenomine Mar 7, 2013

    The Bible certainly has literary merit. I am fully supportive of teaching it as literature in the public schools so long as other religious texts which also have literary merit are studied as well, like the Torah, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon, among others.

    If you disagree with the above then you are likely one of those who give lip service to teaching the Bible as literature but in reality want to use Bible classes in the schools for religious indoctrination. By taking that stance you are in effect saying that it's okay to lie about your intentions to further what you perceive to be a good cause. Also, because Bible classes in public schools are historically easy A's, you are also basically providing the same kind of academic coddling given athletes at UNC-CH and elsewhere.

  • Plenty Coups Mar 6, 2013

    "Years ago we had the Bible in school, 10 commandents on the wall, started class with the lords prayer,,Pledge of alligence,, Now we have killings, rapes, drugs"

    Yeah, never had any problems in the good ole days where only 25% graduate from high school, we had segregation, and the life expectancy was 50.

  • Sherlock Mar 6, 2013

    ACLU is godless any way.

  • Sherlock Mar 6, 2013

    If the ACLU would stay out of this it can be done, they are the major problem, lawyers without real jobs. Offer the course and let the parents give the ok. As an elective your not required to take the course.

  • Granny Mar 6, 2013

    After reading most of these comments I realize even more that it is not going to be very long before the Lord returns. And if you read your Bible you would see that all that it says is coming true!

  • oleguy Mar 6, 2013

    Years ago we had the Bible in school, 10 commandents on the wall, started class with the lords prayer,,Pledge of alligence,,
    Now we have killings, rapes, drugs and Liberals,,, Good swap HUH,The president and his kids are protected by Guns,, Our kids are protected by a sign,,, This school is a gun free zone

  • bluecanary Mar 6, 2013

    I don't think it is necessary to offer these classes, even as an elective. In other parts of the country, we have supposedly Christian parents upset because children are given the option to take Yoga as an elective. If it were a class about the history of Buddhism or Islam, the same people who are saying it is OK would be losing their minds over it. Why don't we focus our time and energy on making the school systems effective at teaching children about science, math, english and real history instead of trying to spend money on something questionable and contentious?