Home > Uncategorized > Allowing Bible Study in Schools: Another Distraction to the REAL Issue Facing Public Schools

Allowing Bible Study in Schools: Another Distraction to the REAL Issue Facing Public Schools

February 2, 2019

Over the past week I have read countless articles about the issue of whether public schools should be allowed to offer Bible study. This article by Jeffery Solochek from the Tampa Bay Times gives a good run down of the recent coverage, which was widened even more when President Trump tweeted on the issue. Here’s the opening paragraphs from Mr. Solochek’s article:

When President Trump tweeted his praise for states looking to authorize Bible literacy courses in public schools, it wasn’t exactly a surprise that Florida would be in the mix, given its history. The state — along with Missouri, North Dakota, Indiana, Virginia and West Virginia — has a bill pending (HB 195) in the Legislature that would require high schools to offer an elective course on the Bible and religion.

An existing state law, approved in 2002, already gives school districts the option of providing courses that include the “objective study” of the Bible. The proposed law would require school districts to make those courses available, and students could decide whether to enroll.

The rationale for co-sponsor Rep. Brad Drake, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, is clear.

“A study of a book of creation by its creator is absolutely essential,” Drake said, suggesting the lessons of kindness and tolerance might help reduce other state problems, such as crime.

“So why not?” he asked. “It’s the book that prepares us for eternity, and there’s no other book that does that.”

From my perspective, “Why Not?” is the wrong question. The right question is “WHY???”

One response to that question is offered by Rachel Laser, CEO of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, who sees the proposed legislation as part of “…a design to codify a Christian America“. Ms. Laser sees this bill as building on one introduced and passed last year that requires all public schools in Florida to post the words “In God We Trust” in a prominent place on campus…. a law that was also introduced and passed in several other states.

My response to that question is more malevolent. I see legislators introducing this kind of hot-button legislation as a way of diverting time, energy, and attention away from the real problem facing public schools: the need for more funding and more equitable funding. I am confident that if the local Superintendents who Brad Drake represents were asked to list their most important legislative priorities for the coming session that Bible studies would not even make the list. But then posting “In God We Trust” in schools was not on their list for 2018… Indeed, Mr. Solochek reported on the Superintendents priorities ten weeks ago:

Aiming to protect academic programs while meeting increased security demands, Florida’s school superintendents have created a legislative platform that focuses heavily on convincing lawmakers to put more money into the system.

Is Mr. Drake doing anything to address that issue? Are any Florida legislators doing so? Is President Trump trying to do anything to address that issue?

Florida Superintendents DO trust in God… but their trust in the legislature?

 

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  1. Byron Knutsen
    February 5, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    Maybe, just maybe, if we were not so afraid of hearing anything about religion coming from anything connected to the government, we could have a more open minded discussion about many other topics not now allowed. Allowing students to have the CHOICE to enroll in a class about religion is keeping with the idea that the state should not support religion. There are those who would teach the class for free, but then I suppose the nitpickers would complain that the government was paying for warming the air in winter. You could also charge the student to attend, which was the same that is required when students need a calculator for math classes. Some people worry too much about freedom of thought. It is there, allow it to be nourished. My college of choice was Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana. In a period of 5 years we, students and faculty, had Martin Luther King and Gov. George Wallace as speakers. The students respected both. Martin Luther King was given a standing ovation and cheers and the end and for Gov. Wallace, everyone sat on their hands. No screams of obscenity, no smashed doors, no throwing of anything, just plain old silence when he finished. Course that was the time of respect for all and also when people could discuss religion in public schools. Now we have neither. Scientists might call that an association we ought to investigate. What is the real problem with schools now? Maybe it is those who are producing students who can only respect their own kind of thought. And yes money, but that is not a recent problem.

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