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When I Said Put the Bible in Public Schools, This is Why

Michael J. Knowles humorously pointed out recently that the mainstream media’s embarrassing lack of Biblical literacy reared its humiliating head again, this time in the wake of the disastrous fire at the Notre Dame cathedral.  The Associated Press seemed surprised to learn that a cathedral was a place of worship, and the New York Times hilariously assumed that a priest rushing into the fire to retrieve the “body of Christ” meant he was going in after a statue rather than the Blessed Sacrament.

Remember this is the same New York Times that, completely oblivious to the fairly significant Christian belief of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, wrote a few years ago how the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is, “marking the site where many Christians believe Jesus is buried.”  If you want more examples, Mark Hemingway has you covered.

Shaking my head at the Biblical illiteracy reminded me again of a cause I’ve been pushing publicly since at least 2016: put the Bible in every public school in America.  Not for religious indoctrination but for cultural awareness.  This is the West.  The West’s values, government, culture, underpinnings, and core identity is wrapped up in the Biblical text.  Whether someone believes its Divine inspiration is immaterial.  An educated person knows the Bible, period.

As I wrote three years ago,

If a student graduates from high school without an understanding of basic addition and subtraction, we say the school has failed.  Why? Because those are the foundation of understanding mathematics.

If a student graduates from high school without an understanding of basic grammar and spelling, we say the school has failed. Why?  Because those are the foundation of understanding the language necessary to function in society.

If a student graduates from high school without an understanding of mitosis and photosynthesis, we say the school has failed. Why?  Because those are the foundation of understanding the natural world.

And the dirty little truth is that if a student graduates from high school without an understanding of the Bible, we should say the school has failed. Why? Because it is the foundation of understanding Western Civilization.

Let me explain what that last statement means for those convinced this is some kind of underhanded religious ploy by a Christian dominionist (I’m not). 

  • Shakespeare makes at least 1,200 Biblical references in his plays
  • Old Negro Spirituals sung by American slaves were Biblical in nature – Go Down Moses (Exodus 7), Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (2 Kings 2), Didn’t the Lord Deliver Daniel? (Daniel 6)
  • Modern music also has such Biblical origin (intentional or not): Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors (Genesis 37), CAKE’s Hem of Your Garment (Luke 8), Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (2 Samuel 11 and Judges 16)
  • Western literature, from the poetry of Robert Frost to the opening line of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, is rooted in Biblical imagery
  • Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is predicated upon Biblical foundations, and his I Have a Dream speech is littered with Biblical allusions
  • Western legal traditions, dating back to Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law are tied, by reference, to Biblical principles

And those don’t even include the totality of Western art being birthed from Judeo-Christian, Biblical roots.

As hilarious as it might be to see the proud forced to correct a glaring error, being unaware of your history, heritage, foundations, and fundamentals is no laughing matter.  It’s a recipe for collapse.  We have to expect better, particularly when there’s such an obvious, court-approved, currently flourishing solution at our fingertips.  Head over to BibleLiteracy.org to see what I’m talking about.

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