President Trump tweeted recently that, “Numerous states [are] introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible.” This has already been portrayed by the left-wing media as a “breach of the legal wall between church and state.”
I disagree with the media, and think that Bible literacy classes should be required in public schools, not just an “option” as President Trump suggests.
Every high school has English as a required subject. Throughout a standard English course, most American high school students read Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays, various forms of British literature such as Beowulf and English Civil War era writing, and great American fiction from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. What is one thing that all of these works have in common? References to the Bible.
How can students begin to comprehend Shakespeare with his numerous Biblical allusions without first understanding the Bible? How can they fully understand the deeply religious conflict that took place in the English Civil War and its various schools of poetry ranging from Puritan to Metaphysical to Cavalier? They can’t.
Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is an allusion to Adam and Eve being cast out of Eden as well as the story of Cain and Abel. The Crucible is filled with Biblical references. Students cannot be expected to grasp these allusions, which expand the scope and depth of the story, without first being educated in the timeless stories in the Bible.
I wasn’t raised in a traditionally “religious” family. This isn’t the fault of my parents, as I fought any kind of regular church-going tooth-and-nail when I was younger. I spent my formative years bouncing between cautiously saying I believed in God, to saying I was agnostic, and, for a time, calling myself an atheist. Recently, after discovering God’s word in the Bible, I have decided to convert to Catholicism.
As I went through high school, I understood that Judeo-Christian values built society, but I was in the “believe in the values but not the religion” mindest. I appreciated Christianity, but I had never read the Bible. I went into these stories at my high school without knowing any of the Biblical stories, not even many of the basic ones. Without this knowledge, I struggled when the teacher would point out Biblical allusions.
We never went over the Bible in school, so how could I know what the teacher was talking about? I don’t think that Bible literacy should be a course on it’s own, but taught as a part of a standard English course.
What about the Bible in history? I took an AP Modern European History course my senior year of high school. One of the first units covered in that course is the Protestant Reformation. How is any student supposed to form an educated opinion on the Protestant Reformation, and be able to write on its complexities in doctrine and dogma without knowing any of the Bible first?
Basic Bible literacy should be taught in tandem with all of the literature that is read in a class. When a reference comes up, instead of pointing out an allusion to the Bible and not elaborating, the teacher should have to go over the Biblical story and have a discussion on its meaning.
The Bible is undoubtedly the most important book to ever be written, as well as the most read text in human history. Biblical notions laid the foundation for Western society, and is the reason that we are currently living in the freest society the world has ever seen. Regardless of whether or not you believe in the God and the Bible, it is indisputably the most important work in history with the words it contains being followed by billions of people around the world. Shouldn’t a work that important be required reading, especially when that book is alluded to throughout literature?
I am not arguing for a “religious” teaching of the Bible, just the addition of the Bible to a standard school curriculum. While the left berates President Trump for calling for optional Bible literacy, I don’t think he has gone far enough. The most important book in history deserves to be required reading in every high school curriculum.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.