By Peter Heck
Of course there is historical precedent for this, and it doesn’t take too much research into American education before you realize that our current practice of purging the Bible from the schoolroom is a modern phenomenon facilitated by an insufferable minority intent on redrafting the First Amendment in their effort to impose a secular agenda on the nation. It’s time to ignore these perpetually offended radicals whose dogmatic opposition to any government recognition of religion is as irrational as the very fundamentalist zealots burning copies of Huckleberry Finn that they claim to oppose.
Think of it this way. If a student graduates from high school without an understanding of basic addition and subtraction, we say the school has failed. Why? Because those are the foundation of understanding mathematics.
If a student graduates from high school without an understanding of basic grammar and spelling, we say the school has failed. Why? Because those are the foundation of understanding the language necessary to function in society.
If a student graduates from high school without an understanding of mitosis and photosynthesis, we say the school has failed. Why? Because those are the foundation of understanding the natural world.
And the truth is that if a student graduates from high school without a workable knowledge and understanding of the Bible, we should say the school has failed. Why? Because it is the foundation of understanding Western Civilization.
Regardless of the internal distress it may cause those seeking the radical isolation of church and state, there is intellectually speaking no denying the impact of the Bible upon the European nations that seeded our civilization. There’s no questioning that the backbone of law in Western Civilization, embodied most notably in the work of Sir William Blackstone, was predicated upon the Moral Law of God articulated in Scripture. There’s no avoiding the reality that the history of Western art, music, literature, language and culture is flush with biblical references and overtones.
I’m not suggesting teaching literal Genesis Creationism in Biology class. This isn’t about teaching Christian doctrine in exclusion to other religions in some sham comparative religions course. No, school boards should be implementing cultural, literary, and historical Bible courses that are court-tested and constitutionally approved.
The Bible Literacy Project is currently taught in over 600 American high schools in 43 states. Given that its focus is not religious indoctrination but rather cultural literacy, the question isn’t whether or not it is responsible to offer such courses in our schools; the real questions is whether or not it is irresponsible to fail to offer some introductory course exposing the next generation to the most influential book in the history of our world.
After all, what text does Shakespeare reference no less than 1,200 times in his plays? What text was the source of countless Negro spirituals, embodying the unflappable spirit of American slaves? What text offered the pretext for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail? What text has welcomed the hand of almost every American president taking his oath of office?
Simply put, an educated person knows the Bible. Ignoring or denying that reality isn’t a recipe for tolerance or equality, but for cultural confusion and decay.
And how bad has it gotten? How ignorant have we become of the foundations upon which our civilization was built? Consider just a handful of recent examples of Biblical illiteracy amongst our so-called intelligentsia. These aren’t average citizens being interviewed by Jay Leno with a microphone. These are “experts” and journalists with advanced degrees from leading universities. These are Pulitzer Prize winning reporters and elites. And they are staggeringly clueless.
Start with Washington Post journalist Kathleen Parker who embarrassed herself during the presidential primaries, not understanding that Ted Cruz’s appeal to the “body of Christ” refers to the church and not the physical body of Jesus.
The New York Times is just as bad. Columnist David Brooks confused Jesus with Paul and wrongly placed Saul, David and Esther in the Jewish Torah. And keep in mind all of those mistakes flew right past the highest priced editors you will find (the Times has finally gotten around to correcting Brooks’ embarrassing error as evidenced by the update notice at the end of the piece).
These examples are not the result of carelessness, but rather the consequence of an intentional deprivation of biblical exposure.
To say our country is well served by having people who are biblical buffoons acting as intellectuals expounding on issues that matter is the height of societal suicide. If you have no understanding or appreciation of your civilization’s cornerstone, history confirms you have no hope of its survival.