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Why Johnny Can’t Read…the Bible: The ‘Teach the Bible in Schools’ Campaign

Last month I told you about a growing movement in the U.S. called “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” organized by our friends at Focus on the Family. It’s part of a growing national movement to encourage our kids to bring their Bibles back to public schools, and perhaps 500,000 young people participated this year! But that’s not all we can do, not by a long shot, despite what you may think.

As you probably know, prominent atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair brought a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Murray v. Curlett, that ended devotional Bible-reading in public schools in 1963. Schools then threw the baby out with the bath water and stopped teaching the Bible academically, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. The results, speaking modestly, have been disastrous. In our schools, suicide, pregnancy rates, and violence have risen dramatically, while our scores in reading, writing, and math have plunged. Of course, while it’s not causation, the correlation is hard to miss.

Bible knowledge, a foundation of Western civilization, has also collapsed. According to Gallup, only a minority of American teens are “Bible literate.” It’s no wonder that over half of the graduating high school seniors in one poll thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife and that Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount! Truly, Johnny can’t read … the Bible!

It’s simply impossible for kids to be fully educated without basic knowledge of the world’s greatest book. Without the Bible, students can’t really understand fully the English language, English literature, history, art, music or culture—and the experts agree. In a poll of high school English teachers, 98 percent said that students who don’t know the Bible are disadvantaged when reading English literature.

Another survey of English professors from Harvard, Yale, and other prestigious institutions found that 38 of 39 agreed that “an educated person, regardless of his or her faith, needs to know the Bible.” Indeed, there are more than 1,200 documented references to the Bible just in the 36 plays of Shakespeare.

That’s why the global campaign “Teach The Bible In Schools” is so important. Started in the United States in 2005 through the Bible Literacy Project, the nonprofit Essentials in Education created a textbook and constitutionally safe instructional resources to help school districts implement a Bible course in the public and private schools that follows federal law.

In the U.S., the course can either be a language arts elective or a social studies elective for grades 9-12. The textbook is called “The Bible and Its Influence,” and it’s being used in 640 schools with 140,000 students in 44 states.

Nine states have passed laws that encouraging teaching of the Bible academically in the public schools. And the latest state is Kentucky. But that’s just the beginning.

“The ‘Teach The Bible In Schools’ goal is two-fold,” says my friend Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education. “We want to get the other 41 states to endorse Bible literacy as a supported academic course and to spread that legislative backing across the globe.”

This is indeed an international movement. Campaigns are underway in Australia, Great Britain, Finland, Brazil, India, and the Philippines. “The Bible and Its Influence” is already being used in Canada, Rwanda, Taiwan, South Korea, and even in China.

If your state does not yet support courses in biblical literacy, I strongly encourage you go to TeachTheBibleinSchools.org to see how you can be a part of this vital campaign. Or, of course, come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll link you to it.

Folks, we’ve just marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which brought the Bible to the masses. And up ahead is National Bible Week. Now is the perfect time to make sure that Johnny can read, and understand, the Bible!

by Eric Metaxas and Stan Guthrie

 

BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children’s books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

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