I’ve been very critical about the teaching of Intelligent Design in public high school science classes recently. While many people are adamantly opposed to the use of the Bible in any form or context in public education, I strongly disagree with them. In order to properly understand western history, religion, literature, art, society, culture and philosophy, I find the Bible totally indispensable. For me, where the line is to be drawn is about the context in which the material is be studied.
You won’t find me agreeing with Democrats very often, but I’ll give a couple of them some credit on this issue from WorldNetDaily:
Two Democratic leaders of Alabama’s House of Representatives introduced legislation that would authorize local boards of education to offer a course in Bible literacy as an elective in grades 10-12.
The bill, expected to pass both legislative chambers without opposition, would make Alabama the first state to offer a Bible curriculum in a public education setting.
The legislation, introduced by Speaker Seth Hammett and Majority Leader Ken Guin, refers to use of a course called “The Bible and Its Influence,” with an accompanying textbook authored by Cullen Schippe and Chuck Stetson and published by the Bible Literacy Project.
As I’ve not read the textbook, there may be grounds to oppose the bill based on its content — time will tell on this issue. Also, for the sake of disclosure I should add that I’ve placed bills in front of both of these sponsors before, and will likely be doing so again when the state legislature reconvenes.
This said, these Democrats seem to have a more rational and libertarian grasp on the issue than their Republican counterparts, one of whom wishes to ban books that refer to homosexuality in a positive or even neutral light. Mel Seesholtz provideson the topic:
Gay novelist Michael Holloway Perronne sent a copy of his novel A Time Before Me, along with a miniature shovel, to Alabama lawmaker Rep. Gerald Allen. The Alabama legislator had proposed legislation to remove from school and public libraries books with any gay content, no matter how small. When asked what he’d do with all the works by gay and lesbian artists, and all the other works that refer to homosexuals and homosexuality, Rep. Allen said, “I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them.”
Seesholtz provides a rather pertinent point:
That would have to be a pretty big hole to contain everything by gay and lesbian writers and other works that had “any gay content.” A partial list of artists, authors and thinkers to be buried would include Sappho, Socrates, Plato, Alexander the Great, Michelangelo, Emperor Hadrian, Richard the Lion Heart, Peter the Great, Francis Bacon, Montezuma II, Virginia Woolf, George Frideric Handel, T. E. Lawrence, Tchaikovsky, Lord Byron, Florence Nightingale, Tennessee Williams, Andre Gide, George Cukor, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Leonardo Da Vinci, Christopher Marlowe, Herman Melville, Horatio Alger, Jr., E.M. Forster, John M. Keynes, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Noel Coward, King James I, Queen Anne, Langston Hughes, Hans Christian Andersen, Tom Dooley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Dag Hammerskjold, Rainer Maria Rilke, Edward II, Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, W. H. Auden, Susan B. Anthony, Leonard Berstein, Malcolm Forbes, Henry James, James Joyce, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, Cole Porter, Alan Turing, Rudolph Nureyev, Christopher Isherwood, and Aristotle.
This Republican censorship goal is indeed scary, as it would deprive our youth of vast bodies of important knowledge. However, Democrats often take these things too far, especially when the try to ban all references to God and Christianity. Homosexuals and the Bible have both had a strong influence on western society, and to deny either is simply burying our heads in the sand.
It has long been my opinion that separation of church and state issues have been politicized by both the right and the left for purposes of self-aggrandizement — generally to the detriment of our students. Finally, someone has proposed what appears to be some common sense legislation which will allow youth to actually learn the about biblical history, literature and philosophy in a proper context.
If we truly wish for our children to make the world a better place, it is important for us to provide them every possible tool at our disposal. Censorship from the right or the left deprives them of these critical resources.
UPDATE: Debate has already started on the issue:
But Larry Darby, former head of the Alabama chapter of American Atheists, said the bill would lead to the Bible being taught as faith in Alabama public schools.
“This is just an instrument to open the door for preachers to proselytize,” Darby said.
Barry Lynn, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington, said the course could turn into a faith-based class, depending on who taught it.