This month the Frankenmuth Board of Education will consider offering a high school religion class emphasizing the Bible’s role in history and literature. The matter comes before the panel at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 12, at Rittmueller Middle School, 965 E. Genesee.
Frankenmuth residents Robert and Marcia Stoddard are leading the charge in establishing a “Bible in History and Literature” class.
Because the class is an academic—not devotional—study of the Bible’s impact on history and literature, it is permissible, said Saginaw civil liberties lawyer William Street.
“The law allows schools to do this as long as what they’re teaching is not in the context of theology,” he said.
However, Street said many districts shy away from offering Bible courses because of confusion over “church and state” laws.
I think this is a great idea, which probably comes as a surprise to some of you. The truth is that the Bible has had an influence on both history and literature that has been positive as well as negative. Considering the rise of Christianity as the majority religion in America and the obvious influence it has in current politics it would be foolish not to study the Bible’s impact on history and literature. A well-designed course dealing with this topic and presenting both the good and the bad is something I’d love to see in all high schools, particularly as an elective. It’s a topic I’ve spent my fair share of studying up on under my own initiative. For that matter, I think the ideal would be to see courses offered on the role of religion in general on history and the arts. Good, bad or otherwise, it’s definitely influenced mankind and our history.
That’s assuming the course itself actually tries to present all sides of the issue without promoting it singularly as either entirely a positive or negative thing or as an endorsement for Christianity, natch. Not having seen the course materials in question (though I may try to dig them up later) it’s possible this could just be another attempt to get promotion of Christianity into the school systems in the guise of education, but I’m willing to be optimistic that the intentions of the folks behind this move are not as deceptive as that as I consider it a topic that is worthy of study and that I’d like to see more schools undertake.
It’s also true that a lot of school districts won’t even consider a course such as this due to confusion over separation issues. This is a shame and a good reason why educators should seek out resources that help to define what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to religion in the schools. The much maligned ACLU in partnership with many other political and religious organizations maintains a document that is intended to help educators in understanding the issue that I highly recommend to anyone who is interested.