The separation of church and state is a reoccurring controversy that has many people disturbed and confused, especially when it comes to religion in public schools. The case for teaching the Bible in public schools has recently arisen once again. Now more than ever, people are fighting for the bible to be taught in classes by claiming that it is the “bedrock of Western culture.” There are still some people however, who believe that teaching the bible in school will lead to religious “preferencing” amongst students. Many people view this controversial subject from a very close-minded, one-dimensional perspective, which causes an interesting uproar of ideas.
In a recent article published in TIME magazine entitled, “The Case for Teaching the Bible,” David Van Biema discusses and analyzes the many questions and concerns that circulate around the idea of teaching the Bible in school. Biema targets those who do not support incorporating religion into school as his audience. Although some points of the article offer only opinions, the author communicates very effectively with the audience. He provides statistical facts as well as information from his personal experiences. He talks about the several cases over the years such as the 1948 McCollum v. Board of Education case that supported church in school, and the 1963 Abington Township School District v. Schempp case that removed prayer and devotion from the classroom. He also used his experience visiting New Braunfels High School (a school committed to The Bible and Its Influence) to provide realistic information and opinions about teaching the Bible in school. Biema’s use of facts and experiences pulls the reader in and allows the reader to understand the topic at hand from both an opinionated and factual standpoint.
Although the article is well written and covers a subject that is important, it lacks interest. The author uses too many actual facts. The audience does not want to read a written piece full of information that can be accessed over the Internet. They want realistic information that they can relate to. This article would be much more substantial if opinions from students who are a part of bible literacy classes such as the students attending New Braunfels High School, were discussed and introduced to the audience. After all, teaching or not teaching the bible in school is going to impact the students more than anybody else. The opinions of people that are not affected by incorporating religion into school are somewhat irrelevant.
In spite of the lack of interest I experienced while reading, this selection did in fact make me think. I have grown so used to not being able to discuss or learn about religion in school that I would have never thought that things could be any other way. I assumed that because the discussion of topics such as the Bible was banned, that religion probably would have a negative effect on students. However, I have learned that if taught correctly, learning about the bible can be very fundamental, because of its history. The Bible contains much information that has been referred to in literature, movies, and other sources. It makes many references to past, present, and future times. The Bible also provides insight, information, and facts about modern and past Western Culture, which if taught correctly, could be beneficial to the enrichment of students. I definitely have changed my mind about the Bible being taught in public schools. There is nothing wrong with students learning from the world’s oldest, best-selling book as long as they are learning and not having someone’s beliefs infringed upon them. Teaching the bible is constitutional if we teach but do not preach it.