By Elizabeth Ridenour, President, National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools
February 2001 – We looked the other way in 1962 when the U. S. Supreme Court, in defiance of all American history and without citing a single precedent, declared school prayer unconstitutional. We again stood silent when in 1963 the same court outlawed Bible reading in schools and in 1980 barred the Ten Commandments.
With these decisions, our nation began a steep decline in scholastic ratings, patriotism, and moral values. Meanwhile, violent crimes, unwed pregnancies, and divorce have skyrocketed.
Our Founding Fathers never intended for the Bible to be removed from our public schools. A secular study was done by the American Political Science Review on the political documents of the founding era of our country. They found that 94% of all the documents from the founding era were based on the Bible, and of that, 34% of the contents were direct quotations from the Bible. Our Founding Fathers were willing to give their very lives for their beliefs. So I ask, will we remain silent again?
A project is underway by the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools (NCBC) to have a Bible Course Curriculum as an elective in the public schools nationwide. The Bible is taught as history and literature, with the Bible as the textbook. The Supreme Court says this is legal. This course has already been voted into various school districts in 30 states.
Promoters of this project include Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. Bill Bright, Joyce Meyer, Dr. Jerry Falwell, Dr. John Hagee, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Dale Evans Rogers, Jane Russell (the actress), Pat Boone, Carman, and Captain Scott O'Grady (who was shot down over Bosnia and later rescued).
An 11-page legal opinion on the NCBC Bible Course Curriculum has been drafted by five attorneys, including a law professor from Notre Dame University and a law professor from Princeton University. They state that this curriculum meets all Constitutional guidelines.
Eighty-eight percent of students nationwide are educated in public school systems. Students' rights have been violated and they have wondered what has been missing. Unless one has a working knowledge of the Bible and particularly the Books of the Law, it is difficult to understand even the basis on which our Constitution is founded.
How can a student study Middle Eastern history without incorporating the Bible? What meaning would Michelangelo's Moses or Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper have to students if they don't know about the figures who inspired these works of art? How could some people even consider censoring the best selling book of all time from our children's education? Do they consider the Bible to be a right-wing book?
The Bible is also viable as an academic source of study. Let's look at it on its academic merits. It was written over a time span of 1,500 years by 40 authors from all walks of life--over 40 generations from Asia, Africa and Europe--presented in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
The Supreme Court says that teaching Bible curriculum as an elective on campus during school hours for credit in public high schools is legal. U. S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley has issued a lengthy statement supporting the court. Ninety-two percent of the school districts NCBC has worked with nationwide have voted to put this in. Over 23,000 students have now taken this course, not just in the Bible belt, but in school districts coast to coast.
Former U. S. Chief Justice Warren Berger said that the Constitution does not require complete separation of church and state. It mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions and forbids hostility toward any.
While there are educators who serve their communities in truth and fairness, due to misunderstanding and misinterpretation, many have assisted in the denial of the Constitutional rights of students and teachers. We must know and reclaim our rights and we must do this responsibly. As President Woodrow Wilson said: "A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about."
Also, please be aware that an organization known as the Freedom Forum/First Amendment Center wants the Bible only to be able to be taught nationwide as a Comparative Religions/Higher Criticism Course, where other religious faiths give their interpretation of the Bible. The courts do not say that the Bible must be taught that way. NCBC teaches what the Bible says and not how others interpret it. Teaching the interpretations of others, rather than remaining neutral, actually teaches students to doubt the Bible.
With doors finally opened to Bible curriculum in public schools, Christians must not miss the opportunity.
For more information on introducing a Bible course curriculum in your school district call the NCBC at 336-272-3799.