OnlineAthens: OpEd:Bible classes in public schools sanction one religion 08/12/99
Story last updated at 8:13 a.m. on Thursday, August 12, 1999

Bible classes in public schools sanction one religion

If the Georgia public school system is going to be preaching - make that teaching - religion in its classrooms, the course should cover all the world's faiths and not just the Bible as proposed by State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko.
Schrenko has recommended that the State Board of Education add to its curriculum social studies courses based on the Bible. History of the Old Testament I and II and History of the New Testament I and II would be taught in Georgia schools if Schrenko's idea is approved.
She said the courses focus on the Bible in the context of history, and that through that historical context students would get a great deal of value from the Bible and the course lessons.
If the Georgia Board of Education were going to seriously consider this proposal, the members would - putting it into context - have to ask several questions.
Which translation of the Bible would be used for context? What denominational perspective will be applied to the course for context? Should the Bible's stories be taught as literal or symbolic?
The school board should think twice before voting on the superintendent's unconstitutional recommendation.
Schrenko's comments about the course's relevance through the context of history is so much malarkey. What she is really trying to do is slip her own Christian beliefs into the school curriculum.
The idea represents a blatant violation of the constitutional separation of church and state. Teaching the Bible singles out the Christian faith to the exclusion of other beliefs and forces that specific faith on our children.
It's alarming and disappointing that the head of our state's school system would even propose such an idea.
If Schrenko were really interested in educating our children about the value and impact of religion on history she would be pushing for a course that discussed not only the Bible and its Christian context, but the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) which the Jewish faith follows, and the Koran which would present the Islamic perspective.
There are several other major world religions such as Baha'i, Buddhism, Confucianism and Hinduism as well as many minor spiritual movements. Why not include the sacred writings of these faiths in furthering our children's educations?
Of course, that's not what Schrenko is about in this matter. She is into indoctrination, not education, and rather than expanding students' minds, she would narrow them.
There are plenty of opportunities available for children who want to pursue an interest in the Bible.
Parents seriously concerned about having their children learn the "Good Book" can send their boys and girls to Sunday school or enroll them in Bible study courses outside the public school system.
Schrenko should leave her personal agenda outside of the classroom, and the Georgia Board of Education should forget about making the Bible part of the curriculum for Georgia children.

©Copyright 1999, Athens Newspapers Inc.

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