In case you missed it, one state is taking full advantage of the relaxed view toward Christianity under the current Presidential administration. On June 27, the governor of Kentucky signed a bill into law that permits public schools to teach Bible literacy as an elective social studies class. The stated intent of the bill is not to allow the teaching of religion in schools but to explore the Bible’s role in American history.
According to Kentucky Representative D.J. Johnson, “It really did set the foundation that our Founding Fathers used to develop documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. All of those came from principles from the Bible…. Where you believe that it’s the word of God or you think it’s complete fiction, you can’t deny the impact it’s had on our culture.”
Opponents of the new law include atheists, humanists, and I would assume members of other religions who oppose the teaching of one set of religious beliefs without balancing them with other viewpoints. According to the Kentucky Secular Society, “If this course is really for literary purposes, it should include other mythologies and literatures that have impacted our culture as well.”
Some Christians also oppose the law, such as one person who posted a comment on the Christian Post article about the law: “I can't imagine why any reasonable person who believed in the holiness and sanctity of the Bible would want to put its teaching into the hands of the state government…. I am a school teacher and if you had worked with many of the people that I have over the years, then you would not want most of them teaching the Bible to anyone.”
It’s very difficult, of course, to teach the Bible without touching on religious issues. Is there really a God? Did he create the world? Are humans made in his image? How does God want us to live in this world? and What happens if we don’t live according to his plan? These are all questions likely to come up during a discussion of the Bible. Who is going to answer these questions? The Kentucky Department of Education will be tasked with putting together the curriculum for this class and ensuring that the classes do not promote Christianity in violation of the 1st Amendment Establishment Clause. That’s not a job I would want!
One has only to do a quick search of the different Christian denominations in their area to realize there are many different ideas about what the Bible teaches. Even at the time our nation was founded, there were different ideas of what it meant to be a Christian and how to live as a Christian. Some of our Founding Fathers, including the author of the Declaration of Independence, considered the Bible to be a good source of wisdom, but they denied its authenticity as the inspired Word of God and rejected Jesus as the Son of God and source of our salvation. Will that important bit of information be included in Kentucky’s Bible literacy classes?
Bible literacy is a good thing – I won’t deny that. But teaching the Bible as a source of human rights and governmental structure without the essence of the Bible’s message is a very bad idea! Stripping the Bible of the Gospel leaves behind only laws and moral admonitions that never saved anyone. That’s the core message of the Bible. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ – not through good living, good intentions, or good government. And that’s not a message our government is tasked with sharing. That’s on us!
It’s time that we stopped trying to authenticate our religious beliefs by having them taught in public schools or posted on courthouse walls or set in stone on memorials in city parks. It’s time we got back to the job of preaching the Gospel to our neighbors, near and far, and loving them as Jesus loves us.
What is my mission as an author? The goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.