School Board Rules Bible Lacks Educational Value
By Jerry A. Kane
Bend your ears boys and girls for another of Baron von Münch-Kane’s once-spun yarns and twice-told tales.
Each day an electronic wave of news and information breaks upon the shore of my sleepless mind leaving its foam of big ideas, images and distorted facts.
The Collier County School District in Florida is being sued in federal court for banning the distribution of the Bible on public school campuses. On Religious Freedom Day January 2009, school officials declared Bibles unwelcome and their distribution intolerable. The officials reasoned that distribution should be banned because the Bible lacks any educational benefit for students.
Only a quarum of stupendous ignoramuses would claim that knowledge of the Bible has no redeeming educational benefit. The Bible not only was the only prescribed textbook during the early 1900s in this country, but it also continues to have a profound influence on the philosophies of Western, Eastern, and African cultures worldwide.
“There is overwhelming evidence of the need for biblical literacy in public education. … [T]he goal is not spreading a particular religion but preventing the spread of something far worse: a crippling kind of ignorance.”—Chuck Colson
Both classic and contemporary English and American literature is steeped in biblical figures, allusions, metaphors, symbols, legends, and morality. Generally speaking, English professors agree that educated people, regardless of faith, need to know about the Bible
“Without such knowledge one reads productions of 19th century culture much in the manner of someone who tries to use a dictionary in which one-third of the words have been removed.”—George P. Landow, Brown University Professor
It’s doubtful that any writer has assimilated Scripture more abundantly than Shakespeare. His knowledge of the Bible is extensive, and Old and New testament books are characteristic throughout his plays. In the estimation of Victor Hugo, “England has two books, one which she has made and one which has made her: Shakespeare and the Bible.”
“[I]f a student doesn’t know any Bible literature, he or she will simply not understand whole elements of Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth.”—Robert Kiely, Harvard University Professor
More often than not, students entering college who know something about the Bible:
- are more sophisticated students;
- recognize literary allusions and references;
- understand how characterization in novels and thematic levels in poetry are linked to biblical allusions;
- understand and recognize the Christ figure;
- possess a better understanding for Victorian art and literature;
- understand the parable genre;
- understand literary analysis;
- understand questions of canonicity and non-biblical literature;
- appreciate the tone of the politics of the 16th and 17th centuries; and
- can discuss “meaning” and “values” with understanding and insight.
The importance of reading the Bible is not limited merely to effectively transitioning to the academic world; American presidents have always advocated biblical literacy.
“So great is my veneration of the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens in their country and respectful members of society.”—John Adams
“Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties … To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide for the future.”—Ulysses S. Grant
“The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teaching we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in the right for anybody except the state.”—Harry S. Truman
“Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible. … The Bible and its teachings helped form the basis for the Founding Fathers’ abiding belief in the inalienable rights of the individual … as well as the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. “—Ronald Reagan
Since the country’s founding, God-fearing Americans have implicitly understood that “it is impossible to mentally or socially enslave a Bible-reading people because biblical principles are the basis for human freedom. Whether educated or not, Americans can ill afford “to be ignorant of the Bible.”
The school officials’ foolhardy ban against the distribution of Bibles on campus is a “crime against humanity” for behind their fallacious reasoning lies a humanistic attempt to belittle the very best book “that ever was or ever will be known in the world.”
Their authoritarianism is nothing new; it is patterned after every tinhorn dictator stomping on a human face since the beginning of time. Technological advancements may make their approach to the destruction of freedom a bit more refined and sophisticated, but their aim to repress intellectual freedom and cleanse society of old ideas mirrors the iron rule of every totalitarian state: freedom of conscious is an enemy and biblical principles a menace.
“For more than a thousand years the Bible, collectively taken, has gone hand in hand with civilization, science, law–, in short, with the moral and intellectual cultivation of the species, always supporting and often leading the way.”—Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In short, the Bible has shaped much of Western civilization and without its guiding influence, the dignity, worth, and rights of Americans will be rendered obsolete.
“We have gone through the epoch when the masses were oppressed. We are now going through the epoch when the individual is oppressed in the name of the masses.”—Yevgeny Zamyatin