What does a Bible lesson in a public school look like? Students across the United States are discovering

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Across the country, states are beginning to review and pass legislation that will allow Bible teaching in public schools. Classes are mostly in the form of electives, and many have a clear leaning towards Judeo-Christian values.

Project Blitz, a legislative effort fueled by the religious right, is encouraging more high schools in the United States to teach the Bible. So far, 10 state legislatures have introduced a version of a law that allows high schools to teach a Bible-focused classroom. Georgia and Arkansas have passed bills through the state legislature, but are awaiting governor signatures for the bills to pass.

Classes take many forms. The Washington Post cited the classroom of public school teacher Todd Steenbergen in Kentucky. Its Bible-based elective examines Scripture through a modern lens. It’s no different than what you might find at a religious private school, and Steenbergen himself identifies as a Christian. He leads worship at his church on some Sundays. Other classes might look at the Bible from a more secular perspective, looking at the scriptures through a historical lens or looking at them as a basis for moral philosophy.

There are opponents to the movement, as one might expect. While those who are not religious often promote Bible classes as a way to teach the history of the evolution of moral thought, critics of the Blitz Project point to its explicit mission to communicate Judeo-Christian values ​​in spaces secular. Indeed, the movement claims that its mission is to protect “the free exercise of traditional Judeo-Christian religious values ​​and beliefs in the public square”.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is a vocal opponent of the Blitz project. Rachel Laser, group president and chief executive, said The Washington Post:This is part of an effort to establish this kind of narrow Christian agenda as the norm for our country, the norm sanctioned and supported by the government.

There is precedent for Bible-based lessons in American public schools. In fact, some schools have been teaching the Bible in literature and history electives for decades, using textbooks paid for by the school and with teachers already employed by the institution.

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Steenbergen’s class, however, takes an explicit values-based approach, and the American Civil Liberties Union has actually flagged his class as a potential lawsuit, telling the Kentucky Board of Education, “We urge you to put in place mechanisms for monitoring these courses as they are implemented to ensure that they do not violate the constitutional rights of students and parents. Steenbergen makes connections between the teachings of Christ and modern life. One lesson had him play Disney clips to see what value the Beatitudes students could connect to what was being shown.

But Steenbergen was actually on the committee that wrote the Kentucky state standards for Bible education in public schools. He says he is careful to distinguish between promoting his faith and teaching the scriptures. “I’m just saying the themes, how sometimes those themes still show up today and are influences for some people,” he said. The post office. “It’s so doctrinal that I don’t think I should cross the line to promote certain articles.”

So can you go to a Bible class in a public school to get answers about faith? At this point, you can certainly understand the context, but at this stage of the legislation, the likelihood of these courts taking an overtly pro-Christian stance is not high. Going forward, it looks like we can expect more focus on literature and history, less on apologetics.

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