Today's Paper Search Latest stories Listen Traffic Legislature Newsletters Most commented Obits Weather Puzzles + Games

The snarky press--but we repeat ourselves--felt obliged to point out that the president of the United States once again commented on a Fox News report featured in the early morning hours.

Yes, it's unfortunate that's where the man gets his information. And don't get us started on his having a Twitter account. But the president can use his bully pulpit as he pleases. Early in the week, at least one tweet gave conservatives hope that maybe the country isn't going to hell in a handbasket after all. Maybe just to heck in a wickerwork.

After a report on the number of states offering The Bible as Literature courses, the president tweeted his support. It's good to have friends in high places.

The Bible educational? Sweet Jesus, yes! One president of some note had little else at some points in his frontier life, often having to turn to The Book's pages for his education, when he couldn't get some Shakespeare or Euclid. Abraham Lincoln was a lot like other people in the wilderness of his youth, when the Bible might have been the only book in the house--or the one-room cabin. That may be why Lincoln's Second Inaugural has so many biblical cadences. Try reading it aloud. A. Lincoln made a great prophet. The man studied the Word.

Some states, like Arkansas, allow public schools to offer The Bible as Literature, and more and more states are catching up. With bills under review in Indiana, West Virginia, Florida and Missouri, the topic is getting play once again.

Bible as an education? At least the language would be improved. There'd be less filth, anyway, if our kids skimmed Ecclesiastes more often. And maybe less blasphemy, if they studied John the Revelator.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that religion can't be forced on our kids in taxpayer-funded public schools, but done right, the Bible can be taught. And, we'd add, it should be. Just look around for evidence that we live in a biblically illiterate era. Today, biblical references that were once recognized by every American of any class or demographic may elicit a strange look, or pass by without another comment, as if the person who made the utterance was talking a foreign language. Which, of course, he was. Which is why schools also offer foreign languages. It's called an education.

A teacher doesn't have to proselytize in order to teach. Fact is, the courts say a teacher can't. But a teacher can show how scripture guided most of the West's history, starting several millennia ago, when a man named Moses put together a few books. If that's still the opinion of modern scholars, which it isn't.

How about that for an week-long lesson? Who wrote the books of the Bible, and why was there so much confusion about such things in antiquity? Could it be compared to those who attribute their opinions to famous people today and upload it to their Facebook pages? Imagine the classroom debate.

The Bible is full of poetry. And war. And great people, not to mention those who betray with a kiss. There are stories about kings who kill, repent, and are forgiven. And kings who refuse to kill, and are cast aside.

Greatness? Forgiveness? Poetry? Are those just three more romantic notions that went out of style years ago, and should be left to old fogies born before Abington v. Schempp? Or is there room for such things in oh-so-modern classrooms?

Of course there is opposition. There always will be in this rambunctious country, founded by men who noted that our rights are unalienable--and endowed by our Creator, no less. Unfortunately, the last we looked, even in Arkansas the elective of The Bible as Literature has proceeded at a snail's pace. There are few more effective blockades to education, and other worthwhile goals, than the threat of lawsuits.

In such a culture, or lack of one, well-meaning people--such as school superintendents and principals--might dissuade any teacher bold enough to want to teach how the Bible influenced life in the Middle Ages, how that gave birth to the Renaissance, how many of the world's great pieces of art came from its stories, how some men used it for their own purposes throughout history. Even American history. How the Church ordered Galilieo to trial for writing that the Earth revolved around the sun. Heresy! (Is there a astronomy lesson here? There should be.)

Not teach the Bible as literature? We're doing our kids a disservice by not even offering it. Especially since the highest court in the land has given its permission to proceed.

As long as we do it right.

With firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right.

Editorial on 02/03/2019

Print Headline: The president's blessing


Sponsor Content


You must be signed in to post comments
  • 23cal
    February 3, 2019 at 8:37 a.m.

    About "The United States Supreme Court has ruled that religion can't be forced on our kids in taxpayer-funded public schools, but done right, the Bible can be taught."
    "Done right" is the rub, though, isn't it? Because mostly, it isn't.
    The elephant in the room of this dominionist screed is that most of the time where allowed, these courses are NOT "done right". They are done in a proselytizing manner, which of course is the intent of the people who push to shoehorn their preferred religious beliefs into the public school systems.
    To be clear, it is possible and in some cases appropriate to teach about religion in public schools. When studying about the Ancient Greeks, learning about their beliefs and Greek mythology is important. However, when teaching about religions practiced today, things get trickier. The Bible must be taught in a nondevotional manner with no attempt made to indoctrinate students as to either the truth or falsity of biblical materials, not include the teaching of religious doctrine or sectarian interpretation of the Bible, not teach the Bible as a true and literal historic record, and should expose students to CRITICAL perspectives on the Bible and a diversity of biblical interpretations. That is a tall order for even the most highly trained and careful teachers.
    At a time when much of America still struggles to treat non-Christian religious groups, whether they be Muslim, Sikh, Jewish or something else, as truly American, there is a better way. Rather than teaching courses only on one particular set of religious texts (the Bible) , schools could offer comparative religion elective courses which simultaneously encourage broader learning and reduces the risk that the curriculum or teacher effectively endorses Christianity or a certain view or denomination of it.
    Religion has a long, volatile history in the nation’s public schools, even leading to killings and church burnings in Philadelphia in 1844 when Roman Catholics protested after their children were forced to read a Protestant translation of the Bible in school.
    A 2006 study by Chancey, funded by the Texas Freedom Network, which surveyed every Texas public high school’s Bible classes, showed what can go wrong.
    Of the 25 districts offering the classes during the 2005-06 academic year, the study found, all but three had minimal academic value and were not taught objectively, teachers were largely unqualified, and some classes were taught by clergy.
    “The vast majority of Texas Bible courses, despite their titles, do not teach about the Bible in the context of a history or literature class,” according to the study.
    “Instead, the courses are explicitly devotional in nature and reflect an almost exclusively Christian perspective of the Bible. They assume that students are Christians, that Christian theological claims are true and that the Bible itself is divinely inspired - all of which are inappropriate in a public school classroom.”

  • limb
    February 3, 2019 at 9:17 a.m.

    Why want religion? And whose?

    February 3, 2019 at 9:18 a.m.

    23 cal I agree totally.The studies MUST also be voluntary. The 1st Amendment seems pretty clear about church,and state.

  • BoudinMan
    February 3, 2019 at 9:19 a.m.

    It's like the trump ilk, including this easily-led editor, believes that everything the Angry Yam does is fine with them as long as he: appoints a Supreme Court justice who is anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, and anti-voting rights, and as long as he pimps Christianity, not religion, but Christianity.

  • RobertBolt
    February 3, 2019 at 9:40 a.m.

    Thanks, 23cal.

  • Packman
    February 3, 2019 at 9:56 a.m.

    Hey Boidin - Have you checked on Ruth Ginsberg today?

    February 3, 2019 at 10:56 a.m.

    You mean all those good Christian Trumpanzees who don't mind:

    -stealing money from veterans with a scam online U
    -5 years of lies abt the 1st black POTUS's birthplace
    -grabbing women by the p*ssy
    -promising to bring back torture
    -promising to turn away war refugees

    and voted for that guy because he told them he hated abortion, which Christ never mentioned?

    (H/T John Fugelsang)

  • JakeTidmore
    February 3, 2019 at 11 a.m.

    When religionists truly embrace equality, justice, and freedom - the true American ideals we should follow - then I'll have a bit more respect for them. Religious bigotry is still poisonous no matter how much thy try to sugar coat it or force it down your throat.

  • 23cal
    February 3, 2019 at 11:05 a.m.

    About "The snarky press...." speak for yourself with your ad hominems, k?
    About "The Bible educational? Sweet Jesus, yes!" So, exactly what EDUCATORS are pushing for it to be included in pubic school curriculum? Seriously, list and name them. Show your work. What colleges and universities of higher education are demanding that their future students have a good solid high school grounding in the Bible as literature or history? Yale? Harvard? MIT?
    About "One president of some note had little else at some points in his frontier life....." Lincoln was born 210 years ago. The idea that we cannot come up with better ways to educate in 210 years is asinine. This is specious reasoning at its worst.
    About "Some states, like Arkansas, allow public schools to offer The Bible as Literature..." which was pushed through as a campaign publicity stunt by far right wing legislators pandering to their fundamentalist base. Do you know who had absolutely no interest in doing this? I'll tell you who: literary experts. No literature societies, groups, or historians pushed for this law. Only one group did: fanatical fundamentalist Christians, and they aren't known for their literary expertise in education.
    This clearly isn't about history or literature, which the editor goes to great lengths to dishonestly pretend. It is about tearing more bricks out of the wall of the constitutional separation of church and church and state, and to use the government through the schools to proselytize to and to indoctrinate a captive group of students.
    About "Bible as an education? At least the language would be improved." Grammar, vocabulary, and literature courses would improve the language more. You want language improved, go to the classic authors like Shakespeare, Dumas, Tolstoy, Proust, Twain, Bronte, Sallinger, Dickens, Steinbeck, etc.
    About "......the Bible can be taught. And, we'd add, it should be." NO, it shouldn't. That's what churches are for, and there is one on just about every corner in Arkansas.
    About "Just look around for evidence that we live in a biblically illiterate era." We live in an illiterate era in general; see the word salad of some of the commenters in these pages. Worse, we live in an era and an area of ignorance about all religions EXCEPT for the one the editor wants shoehorned into public schools.
    About "A teacher doesn't have to proselytize in order to teach." Experience tells that overwhelmingly they do in fact proselytize in practice. This is what happens in the real world. So, who does editor envision teaching the bible as "literature".....literature experts? Bwahahahahaha! Historians teaching the Bible as "history"? Bwahahahaha! Anyone who doesn't realize these classes will be taught primarily by people whose main qualification is being eat up with the Jesus is delusional.

  • seitan
    February 3, 2019 at 11:09 a.m.

    Why not a class in World Literature that includes a variety of religious texts? When you limit it to the Bible it seems, well, limited. Plus, which version?