Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bible as Literature controversy

left: Maciejowski Bible cover, c1250

While doing my Masters in English I was required to take Philosophy of Literature and even though I am an atheist, I chose to take Bible as Literature in a Social Context since so much literature that we are required to read and so many of the classics incorporates or is influenced by christian thinking and the bible. The Bible literature class was very informative and we also studied the Jewish and Greek Bible. It was interesting to study it from an outside perspective since I had already read the Bible twice before when I was a Xian.

It takes a lot of brain power to analyze something so complex as the Bible and to understand and be able to separate the historical parts from fantasy and fiction. There is poetry in there, Psalms and some pretty stuff, there is also some x-rated, r-rated and violent stuff that children under 17-18 are usually not allowed to see at theaters nor allowed read in any other books.

The professor for my course was a Chinese-American and also a Catholic, though through almost the entire trimester we believed he was atheist! Someone asked him at the end of the course what his religious beliefs were and when he told us he was Catholic we thought he was joking! I must congratulate him for having the restraint and careful respect for all beliefs and non-beliefs to teach the course in a fair and unbiased manner. But not all teachers are as fair and unbiased, and many of those teaching the lower grades are not qualified to teach such a subject.

Mandatory teaching of the Bible has no place in public elementary and high schools. Our children should be learning how to read and comprehend, to write and to express themselves clearly, to understand math and science basics and to learn how to think critically. To mandate that the Bible be taught as literature in public schools is only an attempt at religious indoctrination of the young.

This post was inspired by vjack's Feb. 14, 2006 post at
Atheist Revolution


Anonymous said...

I totally agree. These types of courses should remain college courses.
In a school district in Texas, the school board ok'd a class (The Bible and its Influence) for juniors and seniors (see here). At first, I thought it *may* be ok, and I admit I was a bit torn on it. It is an elective... But Jill pointed out to me that the graduation rate, college placement rate, proficiency tests, achievement gap - all of these things have to be taken into consideration. I didn't look much further into the Texas situation, but it's happening in states in the south... I think I remember Alabama talking about it too.
This class cost $58,000 to offer to students. A $58,000 religion class in a public school.

Stardust said...

I am so glad I live in Chicagoland where this stuff isn't even an issue. The big thing here is forced cultural awareness classes...and that isn't such a bad thing except that sinking math and science test scores show a need to get back to the basics and cut the bullcrap!

Dee said...

I am also majoring in English (working on my bachelor's at the moment). I had enrolled for a similar course, and was the only student, so they dropped the class. I spoke to the professor who said that he would be willing to teach me on an informal basis. I might take him up on it at some point.

I love this particular professor. He is Mexican, with a doctorate in English literature. He teaches ESL and Spanish. I have taken spanish from him and loved it. He's catholic, and I am former catholic. It would be pretty interesting.

vjack said...

You are right to highlight the difference between an elective graduate-level course and a required public school course. Besides, something tells me the Christian extremists pushing for bible class in high school aren't going to favor the objective approach you experienced.