Secular Sunday School

The current issue of Time magazine has an article discussing the pros and cons of teaching the Bible in public schools.  Of course, the Bible would be carefully taught from a purely secular view – as a massively influential tome that anyone in the West should be at least vaguely familiar with if they want to be considered culturally aware.

Teaching, as I do, for a secular university, I can vouch for the fact that Biblical illiteracy is rampant.  I teach a course on science fiction literature, and Biblical themes and emphases always sail clear over the vast majority of my students’ heads.  It seems only reasonable that the best selling book of all time should be considered worthy of study – however carefully. 

I for one have to support this idea of secular Biblical study.  The problem that I see centers on who you get to teach it.  In the hands of an ardent anti-Biblicist, the class could quickly devolve into a bashing seminar that would be counter-productive to stated goals.  In the hands of an overly-enthusiastic Christian, the course would simply by a lightning rod for controversy and law suits.  Do you get a history teacher?  A literature teacher?  A Social Studies teacher?  How could you adequately cover the book in the myriad ways in which it influences popular culture unless you had someone who was well versed in many of these areas teach it? 

The West was Christian.  Regardless of who wants to complain about it or undo it or champion the Wiccan underground, the fact is that the West was built on Christianity in one form or another.  To pretend otherwise is criminal revisionism.  Give the Bible its due and put it back in the classroom.  It has certainly earned a coveted place as the most influential book in Western history.

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