Bible Textbook Approved in Alabama, USA

A short new bite, related to a much earlier post, Teaching the Bible in US Schools.

Excerpt from

Alabama Picks a Bible Textbook
Monday, Oct. 22, 2007 By DAVID VAN BIEMA

Alabama has became the first state in the union to approve a textbook for a course about the Bible in its public schools, and its surprisingly uncontroversial decision may prove to be a model for others.
There was no opposition to the October 11 vote by the state Board of Education to include The Bible and Its Influence on the state’s list of accepted textbooks. The Board held a hearing on the issue and no-one showed up; the book was approved by a vote of 8-0.

The textbook is a product of the Bible Literacy Project, founded and run by Chuck Stetson, a conservative Christian New York-based equity fund executive. Assessing scripture and its subsequent influence on literature, art, philosophy and political culture, it was specifically designed to avoid the Constitution’s church-state barriers. Although the text, which has been on the market for two years, is now taught in 163 schools in 35 states, no state had previously endorsed it.

The Bible and Its Influence has a fascinating constellation of supporters and critics. Some of its more liberal champions, such as the American Jewish Congress’s counsel Marc Stern, feel that the republic can not only survive but will actually benefit from public school courses on a document as culturally central as the Bible — as long as the classes avoid being devotional. Evangelical heavyweight Chuck Colson hopes that God will speak to students even through a class that is secular in intent. Those opposed to the book include secularists who argue that it already violates the First Amendment and fundamentalists who see its approach as secular and therefore diluting the value of what they see as God’s inspired word.

The Bible Literacy Project is philosophical about the delays created by the different legislative processes in different states. Although a more centralized legislative initiative would result in faster adoption of the text, that process can fall victim to politics, as Alabama’s experience shows. And, for advocates of studying (as opposed to preaching) religion in the public school curriculum, the low-key introduction of the text, whether locale by locale or through the workings of state boards like Commander’s, offers an opportunity to assess its fairness and effectiveness before it becomes a nationwide fact.

See also Wikipedia on ‘The Bible and Its Influence for a bit more on the book.

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One Response to “Bible Textbook Approved in Alabama, USA”

  1. TheDeeZone Says:

    Interesting. I also wrote about the Bible Literacy Project.

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