Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bible As Literature -- in Texas

Over in Odessa, Texas they’re going to teach the Bible in High School.

Which is fine, of course, so long as it is, as they claim, the Bible as literature.

The Bible is one of the main texts Western Civilization was founded on, and to understand Western Culture students ought to know it the way many of them know, say, Dawson’s Creek or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (can you tell I’ve given this speech before? Every time I teach Bible as Lit, in fact), when in fact, most of them, and I am including so-called Christians in this mix, have never read the text and could not explicate a quotation from it for you with a gun to their head.

So yes, great. Teach them the Bible. Please.

But really teach it to them – will you do that?

Or is this going to be just Sunday Revival in High School? Proselytizing about Jesus and giving your soul to the Lord and why God doesn’t want you to be gay?

Because the council that is pushing the class sure doesn’t exactly sound like they want the class taught for its literary value:

The [school] board had heard a presentation in March from Mike Johnson, a representative of the Greensboro, N.C.-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, who said that coursework designed by that organization is not about proselytizing or preaching.

But People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties Union have criticized the council, saying its materials promote religion.

(Here’s the link to the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools:

National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools: )

And further – even if the school in Odessa has the most honest intentions – which I gotta tell you I doubt – do you really think the teachers in these high schools are going to stand up there and tell the truth?

No, the Bible is not the literal truth. No, it is not the infallible word of God. Yes, there are lots of contradictions and errors in it.

No, the Old Testament was written by the fiery finger of God on the stone

No, the four gospels were not written by the four disciples. Yes, in fact, the were written as much as ninety years after Christ died and not in the order they are presented in the text, and yes, Paul’s letters were actually written first, and no, not all of those letters are actually written by Paul, and yes, we actually do know this, and no, there is no actual historical evidence that Christ existed –

You think ANY high school teacher in Texas will stand up and say that to her fifteen year old Pentecostal students?

Hell, I get enough grief saying it to my thirty-five year old Arkies.

(Via Mustang Bobby at

UPDATE: In case you were wondering about the motives of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, check out the links on their web page:

A sample:

Wallbuilders - David
Creation Evidence Museum - Dr. Carl
America's Christian Heritage
Creation Science Evangelism - Dr. Kent
American Family
Christian Educators Association International
Mom's in Touch
Save America Now

Not exactly an organization dedicated to reclaiming a non-biased, non-theocratic approach to the Bible in the schools, I'm guessing. What do you think?

1 comment:

Zorak said...

Check out the Bible Literacy Project at, they are much better about teaching about the Bible fairly and not preaching in the public schools.