In the 2009-2010 school year, some 350 schools in 43 states had implemented elective courses that use both a textbook and the Bible. Since that time other states have taken up the issue of using the Bible as a curriculum textbook for elective courses.
Included among those states is Arkansas who is considering House Bill 1017. The bill passed through the house 79-3 and is now under consideration by the Senate Committee on Education. Not everyone is supportive of the bill, including many Christian parents. The reason? The proposed bill states that personnel shall not be assigned to teach the course based on any religious test; profession of faith or lack of faith; prior or present religious affiliation or lack of affiliation; or criteria involving particular beliefs or lack of beliefs about the Bible.
Most of the support for teaching the Bible in the public school classroom comes from Christian parents, but they have a different expectation from those who oppose such measures. Those who support teaching the Bible are encouraged by the fact the Bible is being allowed back into the schools. Those who oppose the idea have legitimate concerns such as they have no control over who will teach the courses, let alone what those teachers believe or do not believe about the Bible. One does not have to teach the Bible as literal truth in order to teach an elective course that uses the Bible as a textbook.
According to a number of surveys (including Gallup), only about 3 in 10 people in the US read the Bible as literal truth. Approximately 2 in 10 people view the Bible as mythical – a book of fables and legends. The higher the education level of a person, the more they tend to the mythical perspective.
The conservative Christian parent who reads the Bible as literal truth and desires the same for their children should not assume that will be the case in the public school classroom. In fact, the teaching received in the classroom may counter that received at home, thus creating confusion within the minds of the students who are now faced with discerning between a secular worldview versus a Biblical worldview.
While some might consider the intellectual tension between a secular worldview and a Biblical worldview to be healthy, the conservative Christian may very well find the opposite to be true. Especially when considering the breakdown of moral boundaries and personal discipline that is already becoming prevalent in our society.
God has given us two primary places in which to build our children up in the faith – places that we should be able to trust and place our confidence in. Those two places are our faith communities in which we worship and our homes where we as parents have the responsibility and opportunity of nurturing our own children. The public school classroom using a Bible as a textbook and taught by a potential secularist may not be what you had in mind when you championed the return of the Bible to the classroom. In fact, it could become your worst nightmare.