Should the Bible be taught in our public schools? Should our schools also teach students about the Quran, the Book of Mormon, the Vedas and other sacred texts? When it comes to teaching public school students about religion, what is appropriate and what is not?
The Bible does indeed have a place in the school curriculum. Just as young people become acquainted with sacred music or religious art, so they should study the Bible in the context of literature and history, and its profound impact on Western civilization. That, however is quite different than teaching the Bible for religious inspiration. That’s what churches, synagogues, mosques, and private homes are for. Even before the question of appropriateness is the question of choices. Which Bible do we use? Whose translation? Catholics object to the Protestant King James version. Jews do not include the New Testament in the Hebrew Bible, and Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus don’t acknowledge ANY version, to say nothing of people who profess no religion.
A desire to keep religion out of the public schools or bible teaching for religious inspiration should not be equated with hostility to religion. The aim of separating religious institutions and public institutions is to strengthen and enrich them both. By advocating religious “activity” that appeals to the “least common denominator” we only encourage surface piety rather than true religious commitment and inner response. Religion flourishes best when it is nourished by the home and religious community of one’s choice.