Frankenmuth school board considers Bible course as elective.

According to an article on Mlive.com the Michigan town of Frankenmuth is considering a proposal to add an elective high school course dealing with the Bible and its role in history and literature.

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.

4 thoughts on “Frankenmuth school board considers Bible course as elective.

  1. Been lurking at your site for a couple of weeks, so thought I’d finally get around to commenting on something.

    I, too, think this is a great idea - presented, as you say, fairly from all sides of the issue.  I’m not a religious person, per se, but learning about the Bible is critical to understanding modern history - how we (meaning the whole world) got where we are today.  The Bible as literature, rather than dogma, and how it came into being really is quite fascinating.

    I guess my greatest concern wouldn’t be the separation issue; rather, it would be the backlash from religious conservatives angered by the secular (versus sacred) treatment of the Bible in such a class.

  2. Hi again,

    Sure, that might be a nice idea. We have had something like that here in Germany for quite some time. Its called ‘Ethics’ and (if taught by a good teacher like the one I had) it is a nice way to discuss religions, ethics (as the name probably suggested and other moral questions. It was semi-elective - if you didn’t choose one of the religious study-classes, thats what you got (or free time, if the school couldn’t afford an ethics teacher .

    Then again, with protestant, catholic and even muslim religious classes now being taught in many of our schools here, there was not much of an attempt to ‘hijack’ the curriculum. Though some religious people attended too (because they were from ‘fringe’ religions that didn’t feel comfortable with the normal christian teachers). Had some quite enlightening discussions with them as well.

  3. I completely agree with you on this one Les, in fact, I would love to have done a subject like this
    provided that it was kept in an academic context and not in a “In this book you will find the one truth
    and only truth and if you disagree or question or find anything a little bit far fetched you will fail”
    context. I think it would be enlightening purely from a knowledge stand-point.

    Beyond that though and what really saddens me is

    it’s possible this could just be another attempt to get promotion of Christianity into the
    school systems in the guise of education

    And it’s true. but if it’s all about your “Choose god” and your “got god?” Then why does “the word” need
    to be taught in schools. Shouldn’t it be a choice? and not forced down the throat of every student with
    the looming threat of a failing grade if they don’t believe? (or at least pretent to believe).

    Religion, Belief, lifestyle. They are all choices. Please, let children choose. If you are right, and
    these children are meant to be “saved” I’m sure they will be.

    And please… don’t get me started on creationism If that allowed in schools… all I can say it that it would be very upsetting

    (ok, so href’s don’t work. It should be up near the top, click on me ol John hancock and go a search for Creationism)

  4. I once had a college professor who wanted to teach a Bible course. He was a former priest turned atheist and taught Greek Mythology and several Humanities courses. Unfortunately the school wouldn’t let him because he demanded that the course be called “Christian Mythology.”  He was stubborn that way.

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