Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Teaching the Bible in Public Schools

This week, Time magazine has a cover story Why we should teach the Bible in Public Schools. The article says in part,
According to Religious Literacy, polls show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the Bible holds the answers to "all or most of life's basic questions," but pollster George Gallup has dubbed us "a nation of biblical illiterates." Only half of U.S. adults know the title of even one Gospel. Most can't name the Bible's first book. The trend extends even to Evangelicals, only 44% of whose teens could identify a particular quote as coming from the Sermon on the Mount.

So what? I'm not a very religious person

Time coverSIMPLY PUT, THE BIBLE IS THE MOST influential book ever written. Not only is the Bible the best-selling book of all time, it is the best-selling book of the year every year. In a 1992 survey of English teachers to determine the top-10 required "book-length works" in high school English classes, plays by Shakespeare occupied three spots and the Bible none. And yet, let's compare the two: Beauty of language: Shakespeare, by a nose. Depth of subject matter: toss-up. Breadth of subject matter: the Bible. Numbers published, translated etc: Bible. Number of people martyred for: Bible. Number of wars attributed to: Bible. Solace and hope provided to billions: you guessed it. And Shakespeare would almost surely have agreed. According to one estimate, he alludes to Scripture some 1,300 times. As for the rest of literature, when your seventh-grader reads The Old Man and the Sea, a teacher could tick off the references to Christ's Passion—the bleeding of the old man's palms, his stumbles while carrying his mast over his shoulder, his hat cutting his head—but wouldn't the thrill of recognition have been more satisfying on their/own?
For me it becomes a difficult set of questions involving who teaches what? Who creates the curriculum and who uses it in what setting?

It's not that I don't want kids to learn their way around the Bible and to learn to love its stories and teachings. I'm a member of the National Association of Episcopal Schools and plan to grow our present Preschool upward into grades. I also know that biblical literacy is an important part of cultural literacy in the west and yet I favor private schools for teaching the Bible. I realize this leaves out the vast majority of children who can not attend a private school, but then church and home is still the appropriate place to share the faith. Then parents have the choice of which school and church are teaching what to their children. What do you think?

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

Tonight King of Peace will have a service of Holy Communion at 7 p.m. Our full Holy Week schedule is online at



  • At 4/02/2007 9:56 PM, Anonymous Linda+ said…

    Of course it would be ideal to have the Bible taught in schools by Bible scholars, preferably by language scholars teaching Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. Since that probably won't happen, I say hand everyone a Bible and let them learn what they can. Even a perfunctory reading of the Bible takes on a life of its own. I believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation. The truth of the Scriptures will prevail.

    Here's St. Paul's take on that: "I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.

    "Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice . . ." (Philippians 1:12-15)NRSV

  • At 4/02/2007 10:25 PM, Anonymous denise said…

    My first thought is yes, teach about the Bible at school, at least for the purpose of education, so that a child can make an educated choice about what they believe and do not believe. Let them have an educated opinion, just the same as we teach our children in school about government, so that when they are old enough to vote, they may choose accordingly. But then, many questions come to mind. How would one certify or qualify a teacher to teach about the Bible? Would it be possible to teach about the bible without bias? Am I even being fair for raising these kinds of questions? It seems that the teachers who teach about government manage without bias.
    At first thought, private school seems to be the way to go, but I wonder how "fair" that would be to children that go to public school, and well, that just takes me to another issue altogether, the equality between private and public schools.

  • At 5/30/2007 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You should check out the Bible Literacy Project, which has created a curriculum for public schools. This curriculum was recommended by the TIME magazine article.


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