Lawmakers are advancing a bill in the state Senate that would require the Kentucky Board of Education to set guidelines for an elective social studies course on the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Each school would decide whether to offer the course.
Supporters say the course is essential for students understanding the formation of Western culture and history. The line from Macbeth is sometimes seen as an allusion to Jesus’ words in the book of John, when he tells Judas “that thou doest, do quickly.”
The bill is one of many proposals that have new life this year now that Republicans control the House of Representatives. While the bill is sponsored by a Democrat — state Sen. Robin Webb — it has easily passed the Republican-controlled state Senate in previous years but has never gotten through the House while it was under Democratic control.
Republicans have already used their supermajorities in both chambers to push through long-stalled conservative legislation, including banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and outlawing mandatory union dues.
Supporters say knowledge of the Bible is necessary to understand historical events like the Protestant reformation, the founding of the United States and the civil rights movement. They note the bill would not require the class use a specific Bible translation. The legislation says the courses must not “endorse, favor, or promote, or disfavor or show hostility toward, any particular religion or nonreligious faith.” The state Department of Education would have to come up with the course standards, including teacher qualifications and the required professional development.
In 1963, the Supreme Court removed official Bible readings from America’s schools. Since that time, almost everything related to religious or biblical literacy in education has been questioned on grounds of separation of church and state.
But one state is questioning the wisdom of this removal. The Kentucky House of Representatives recently voted to establish an optional biblical literacy course for its public school students:
“The bill says the purpose of the Bible literacy course would be to teach students about ‘biblical content, characters, poetry and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture,’ including literature, art and music.”
But is biblical literacy even necessary for a society such as ours? University of Chicago philosophy professor Allan Bloom once answered that question in the affirmative in his book The Closing of the American Mind:
“In the United States, practically speaking, the Bible was the only common culture, one that united simple and sophisticated, rich and poor, young and old, and – as the very model for a vision of the order of the whole of things, as well as the key to the rest of Western art, the greatest works of which were in one way or another responsive to the Bible – provided access to the seriousness of books. With its gradual and inevitable disappearance, the very idea of such a total book and the possibility and necessity of world-explanation is disappearing.”
Bloom goes on to say that individuals like his grandparents, who were uneducated, but had a thorough understanding of the Bible, were far better connected to the great thoughts and ideas of the ages than were those of his own, well-educated generation.
In removing the Bible from the classroom originally, did America cut off several generations from a main source of cultural literacy through which much of Western Civilization can be understood?
Alex D is a conservative journalist, who covers all issues of importance for conservatives. He brings attention and insight from what happens in the White House to the streets of American towns, because it all has an impact on our future, and the country left for our children. Exposing the truth is his ultimate goal, mixed with wit where it’s appropriate, and feels that journalism shouldn’t be censored. Join him & let’s spread the good word!