Monday, September 28, 2009

Texas Leads Nation in Public School Bible Literacy Courses‏

Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, and South Carolina are runners-up

As the 2009-2010 school year begins, more than 350 schools in 43 states nationwide will be teaching courses on the Bible, according to new data from Bible Literacy Project. The organization publishes "The Bible and Its Influence," the only student textbook designed for public school courses on the Bible. Texas schools have adopted the course in large numbers this year -- more than 50 schools there are teaching the course this fall, in accordance with 2007 legislation mandating that school districts teach about the Bible in the 2009-2010 school year.

Texas is not the only state with widespread use of the groundbreaking textbook. "More than 10% of Georgia public high schools and more than 5% of public high schools in Alabama, Indiana, and South Carolina are using 'The Bible and Its Influence,'" said Chuck Stetson, Bible Literacy Project's Chairman of the Board.

The importance of academic study of the Bible was recently underscored by a "USA Today"
column, "Teach the Bible? Of Course," which argued that "Students who want to do serious study of Western civilization need to know the Bible. They need to know the Bible, even if they do not believe the Bible." In February, the United Kingdom's (atheist) Poet Laureate Andrew Motion called for public school education about the Bible, saying he had struggled to teach Milton's "Paradise Lost" to undergraduates because they had no concept of the fall of man.

John Keeling, a teacher in Whitehouse, Texas, agrees. "Biblical imagery, allusions, references and influences permeate the culture in which we live," Keeling said. "Not to know the basic stories and characters of the Bible is to be at a distant disadvantage when it comes tounderstanding the world around you." Keeling says using "The Bible and Its Influence" helped him respect the First Amendment and the religious viewpoints of his students when teaching about biblical texts in his classroom last year.

During this school year, Bible Literacy Project will be attending 18 conventions nationwide to reach school board members, English teachers and curriculum developers with information about the textbook.

Because only seven states remain in the organization's quest to be utilized in all 50 states,
Bible Literacy Project is offering a free class set of textbooks for the first public school in Delaware, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wyoming ready to teach the course. "When one school implements the course, we quickly make contact with neighboring schools who want to try it too," said Stetson. "We welcome the opportunity to show these remaining states the strength of our program."

To further demonstrate the importance of Biblical literacy, Bible Literacy Project has unveiled a quiz at (
) revealing the impact of Biblical characters and narratives on everyday life.

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