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Tags bible , teach , textbook

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Old 1st December 2005, 09:15 PM   #1
losman
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Thumbs down New U.S. textbook aims to teach Bible

http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/12...eut/index.html


New U.S. textbook aims to teach Bible

Thursday, December 1, 2005; Posted: 10:04 a.m. EST (15:04 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Since the U.S. Supreme Court banned the promotion of religion in public schools in 1963, the Bible has virtually disappeared from most American classrooms.

But in recent years, as evangelical Christians have grown in numbers and gained political clout in the United States, Bible studies have been creeping back into schools.

Now, a new textbook for high school students aims to fill a gap by teaching the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, in a non-sectarian, nonreligious way as a central document of Western civilization with a vast influence on its literature, art, culture and politics.

"It's not about belief. It's about crucial knowledge and knowledge belongs in our schools," said Chuck Stetson, a New York investment banker who is the driving force behind and co-author of "The Bible and Its Influence" -- a glossy, 387-page book recently released and now being tested in a small number of schools mainly on the West Coast.

Stetson knows he was stepping into a potential minefield. But he said polls have shown that over two-thirds of Americans want to see the Bible taught in public schools while only around 8 percent of schools were offering it.

The process of approving the book for use in schools differs from state to state and district to district. In some places, it can be added to the curriculum as an elective by the principal; other areas require the approval of a local school board and in some places the state itself would have to approve it. Stetson is hoping to see the book used by hundreds of school districts by the next academic year.

"This is the first student textbook we've had that is both constitutional and age appropriate," said Charles Hayes of the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center, a nonpartisan foundation that monitors free speech.

"It teaches the subject in a way that will satisfy people who take the Bible as their scripture, but it will also appeal to a broad range of students interested in becoming biblically literate," he said.

"The Bible and Its Influence" is not the only game in town. A North Carolina group called the National Council on Bible Curriculum in the Public Schools has a Bible course now being used in 316 school districts in 37 states.
'Crosses the line'

The Anti Defamation League has denounced this program, which uses the King James translation of the Bible as its text, saying it "blatantly crosses the line by teaching fundamental Protestant doctrine." But the group's legal counsel Mike Johnson denied this.

"Take the resurrection of Christ. A teacher cannot tell a classroom that it's a historical fact. That would be a violation of the Constitution. But a teacher can say that the Bible says it's a historical fact," he said.

"One can't teach that the Bible is objectively true, but one shouldn't teach that it's objectively false," he added.

"The Bible and Its Influence" sets out its ground rules and philosophy on its opening pages. "You are going to study the Bible academically, not devotionally. In other words, you are learning about the Bible and its role in language and culture," it tells its readers.

"You will be given an awareness of religious content of the Bible but you will not be pressed into accepting religion. You will study about religion as presented in the Bible but you will not be engaged in the practice of religion."

With prominent theologians of different religions and denominations among its editorial board, the authors made a serious effort to make sure that the book did not elevate one religion over any other.
'Factual errors'

"We caught quite a few factual mistakes, but I also looked for places where the Christian point of view was assumed. There were some and we made some changes," said Marc Stein, general counsel of the American Jewish Committee who reviewed the text before publication.

Still, there has been criticism of the book coming from both the political left and right. Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State said the book sanitized the effect of religion throughout history, by minimizing Christian support for slavery and Christian anti-Semitism.

"To teach religion objectively, you really have to teach the good, the bad and the ugly and this book only teaches the good," he said.

On the other side, Dennis Cuddy, a Christian who has worked as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Education, said the book raised doubts about God and prompted students to ask the wrong questions.

"If you are going to teach the Bible, are you going to teach it as if it were the word of God? At the least, it should be taught as truthful. It shouldn't be presented as something that is false," he said.

But Joan Spence, a high school teacher in Battleground, Washington, said she as well as students of her elective English class on the Bible appreciated it very much.

"Before I had this book, I had to do all the research myself to teach a class on the Bible as literature. This book, with its many examples of art and literature, makes it easier to keep the class academic rather than religious," she said.

Copyright 2005 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Old 3rd December 2005, 02:13 AM   #2
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Quote:
But the group's legal counsel Mike Johnson denied this.

"Take the resurrection of Christ. A teacher cannot tell a classroom that it's a historical fact. That would be a violation of the Constitution. But a teacher can say that the Bible says it's a historical fact," he said.
He's just wrong. There are plenty of Bible believing Christians who view the resurrection as allegory rather than as historic fact.

Or maybe his argument is that such people have no right to be called Christians.
Which sounds a lot like teaching religion in classrooms...
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Old 3rd December 2005, 04:27 AM   #3
ned flandas
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Originally Posted by Kopji View Post
There are plenty of Bible believing Christians who view the resurrection as allegory rather than as historic fact.

An allegory for what?
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Old 3rd December 2005, 04:59 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ned flandas View Post
An allegory for what?

The true resurrection into eternal life that Christ promises to all those who accept his preaching’s. By showing what a miraculous thing it would be for such an event to happen in the “physical” world, it shows how astonishing and life changing the promise of resurrection into eternity is.
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Old 3rd December 2005, 06:19 AM   #5
Tricky
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I think it is a good idea for Americans to be well versed ( ) with the Bible. It is a very important document to our culture which gets brought up into all sorts of issues. But it is only important because it is important, if you get my meaning. The useful history could be condensed into a pamphlet. The poetry might make a good-sized chapter. Revelations might rival James Joyce for zonked-out imagery. The science... well... maybe as a source for some word etymology. Of course, the philosophy could be argued forever, but that is pretty much what philosophers do anyway. As far as useful parts of the bible go, a one-day seminar should about cover it. Perhaps a one week class with one day each for Judeo/Christian, Islam, Buddhism, Hindi and "others". Useful stuff only, not philosophy.
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Old 3rd December 2005, 09:53 AM   #6
l0rca
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I think Burroughs beats Joyce for zonkey imagery.

The class is rediculous. "1/3" of people don't want the bible's influence taught in schools, "1/3" of people want their brand of christianity taught.

If they're going to teach about the bible's influence, does this mean they're going to talk about the Crusades? The Bubonic Plauge? The justification of slavery? The subjugation of woman? The Manifest Destiny? The wars in Ireland? The British Kingdom's throws of power over protestants and catholics? How many times we predicted the world is going to end?

Quote:
"It teaches the subject in a way that will satisfy people who take the Bible as their scripture, but it will also appeal to a broad range of students interested in becoming biblically literate," he said.
It seems to be that the purpose of this class is to make christianity look pretty, without actually discussing its influence.
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Old 3rd December 2005, 10:30 AM   #7
Kopji
 
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Originally Posted by ned flandas View Post
An allegory for what?
An innocent person who dies horribly so that others might live is a powerful symbol. It does not need to represent a historic event to be useful.

Kopji does Christianity
Luk 17:21
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

So within Christianity is a philosophical thread that teaches the Kingdom of God is experienced in a present tense. The teaching is not that you have rock and cement buildings within you, but something more subtle.

Likewise, when the Bible author says 'Christ in me is to live, to die is to gain', it connects the simple but powerful metaphors of death and rebirth to our daily lives. There is a mystical sense in which our old self passes and we start anew.

Luk 17:21
Philippians 1:21
Galations 2:20
off

The point anyway, (besides a caution about learning scripture from atheists) is that insisting on the literal aspects of things can detract from understanding their higher meanings.
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Old 3rd December 2005, 05:04 PM   #8
c4ts
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I think it would be good to make fundamentalists read their bible. Most don't, since they see it as a collection of wise quotes or something. The book is split up one line at a time, and they need to read it as coherent literature instead!
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Old 3rd December 2005, 05:11 PM   #9
l0rca
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Old 3rd December 2005, 05:34 PM   #10
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I've actually seen that movie, it's pretty funny... in an absurd kinda way.
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Old 3rd December 2005, 07:25 PM   #11
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Who's the hot chick, Mary Mag?
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