A new textbook aims to teach Bible with no religion
As lead attorney for the American Jewish Congress, Marc Stern has been at the forefront of keeping religious activities out of public classrooms. But now he is singing the praises of a new textbook to introduce public school students to the Bible and its influence on culture.
I think they've done a very good job, and surprisingly so. It is very difficult to write a neutral textbook about something as freighted with meaning as the Bible," he said.
If "The Bible and Its Influence" is used as recommended by its publisher, there will be no grounds to sue, said Mr. Stern, who critiqued early drafts.
"Unless you believe that the Constitution requires that school districts teach the Bible only from the viewpoint of the most extreme biblical criticism, I don't see any plausible challenge to this textbook," he said.
"The Bible and Its Influence" is intended to introduce high school students to the Bible and show its impact on literature, art and social movements. It delves into biblical references in Shakespeare and "promised land" imagery in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. It can be used for an elective course or to supplement English or social studies.
Its editors argue that it is impossible to understand Western culture without knowing the Bible. They cite a guide to the Advanced Placement literature exam in which 60 percent of allusions were biblical, including "cast the first stone" and "Lot's wife."
Odd that all those people for hundreds of years would choose to pull so many allusions from that Bible thing. I wonder what would have motivated them to do that?