The Bible and Its Influence Part II

New Stephen Prothero book, ‘Religious Literacy,’ Supports Approach of New Student Textbook for Public Schools, ‘The Bible and Its Influence’ Prothero recommends a course on the Bible for all high school students

FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, Mar. 9 /Christian Newswire/ — Stephen Prothero’s well publicized new book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—and Doesn’t, recommends that “public schools should include a required course on the Bible for all high school students,” and cites the Bible Literacy Project’s student textbook, , as a good approach. \n

\n“The Bible courses envisioned here would include but \nwould not be limited to teaching about the Bible as \nliterature,” writes Prothero, chairman of the religion \ndepartment at Boston University. “Many advocates for \nreligious studies in the public schools–including the \npeople at the Virginia-based Bible Literacy Project \nbehind a textbook called The Bible and Its \nInfluence (2005)–have stressed the Bible-as-\nliterature approach, in part because it is relatively \nuncontroversial… But neither should teachers and \nstudents approach it as literature alone, as if its words \nhave resonated over the centuries solely in the \nimaginations of poets and playwrights. Students must \nunderstand the historical force of the Bible….This \nappears to be the approach of a bill signed into law in \n2006 in Georgia requiring elective Bible courses \nstatewide, and of the Bible Literacy Project’s new \ntextbook. (Religious Literacy: pages 133-134)\n

\n“We have a major civic problem on our hands," says \nreligion scholar Stephen Prothero. He makes the \nprovocative case that to remedy this problem, “public \nschools should include one required course on the \nBible for all high school students. The Bible should be \ntaught in other courses wherever it is relevant, \nbut "natural inclusion" of biblical topics in history and \nliterature courses is not enough. Public school \nstudents should not learn about this classic only in \npassing. They need at least one course dedicated \nentirely to the Bible.”\n

\nBut Prothero cautions: “The Bible courses school \nchildren need are not Sunday school fare, “ citing a \ncurriculum in Rhea County, Tennessee which was \noutlawed in 2002 because it was judged to endorse \nand advance religion. “Curricular materials offered by \nthe National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public \nSchools (NCBCPS) probably will not pass \nconstitutional muster either…..In 1998 a federal judge \ngranted an injunction against a New Testament \ncourse in Fort Myers, Florida, based on these \nmaterials,” Prothero writes.\n”,1] ); //–>The Bible and Its Influence, as a good approach.

“The Bible courses envisioned here would include but would not be limited to teaching about the Bible as literature,” writes Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University. “Many advocates for religious studies in the public schools–including the people at the Virginia-based Bible Literacy Project behind a textbook called The Bible and Its Influence (2005)–have stressed the Bible-as- literature approach, in part because it is relatively uncontroversial… But neither should teachers and students approach it as literature alone, as if its words have resonated over the centuries solely in the imaginations of poets and playwrights. Students must understand the historical force of the Bible….This appears to be the approach of a bill signed into law in 2006 in Georgia requiring elective Bible courses statewide, and of the Bible Literacy Project’s new textbook. (Religious Literacy: pages 133-134)

“We have a major civic problem on our hands,” says religion scholar Stephen Prothero. He makes the provocative case that to remedy this problem, “public schools should include one required course on the Bible for all high school students. The Bible should be taught in other courses wherever it is relevant, but “natural inclusion” of biblical topics in history and literature courses is not enough. Public school students should not learn about this classic only in passing. They need at least one course dedicated entirely to the Bible.”

But Prothero cautions: “The Bible courses school children need are not Sunday school fare, “ citing a curriculum in Rhea County, Tennessee which was outlawed in 2002 because it was judged to endorse and advance religion. “Curricular materials offered by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) probably will not pass constitutional muster either…..In 1998 a federal judge granted an injunction against a New Testament course in Fort Myers, Florida, based on these materials,” Prothero writes. The Bible and Its Influence—used alongside \nthe Bible and in its first year used in 29 states– has \nreceived wide acclaim from evangelicals, scholars, \nthe media, educators, and leaders from a wide range \nof backgrounds, such as the general counsel of the \nAmerican Jewish Congress and the chair of the \nCatholic Biblical Association. The Bible and Its \nInfluence is the only public school curriculum that \nhas been produced to satisfy the 1999 consensus \nstandards published in The Bible and Public \nSchools: A First Amendment Guide, published by \nThe First Amendment Center and endorsed by the \nNational School Boards Association, National \nEducation Association, the National Association of \nEvangelicals, American Jewish Congress, and the \nChristian Legal Society, among 21 national \norganizations.”\n

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Chuck Stetson, chairman of the Bible Literacy Project said “The Bible Literacy Project’s student textbook The Bible and Its Influence—used alongside the Bible and in its first year used in 29 states– has received wide acclaim from evangelicals, scholars, the media, educators, and leaders from a wide range of backgrounds, such as the general counsel of the American Jewish Congress and the chair of the Catholic Biblical Association. The Bible and Its Influence is the only public school curriculum that has been produced to satisfy the 1999 consensus standards published in The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide, published by The First Amendment Center and endorsed by the National School Boards Association, National Education Association, the National Association of Evangelicals, American Jewish Congress, and the Christian Legal Society, among 21 national organizations.”

Christian Newswire

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