Bible Review 16:2, April 2000

Jots & Tittles

By Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

Bible Review

Teaching About the Bible in Public Schools

In the latest chapter in the debate over religion in public schools, a group of educational and religious organizations have issued new guidelines for teaching about the Bible without abrogating the First Amendment.

“The emphasis is on the word ‘about,’” says Chuck Stetson, vice chairman of the New York-based National Bible Association, one of the publishers of the manual. “The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is constitutional to teach about the Bible in literature, in history and in social studies. It is, of course, unconstitutional to teach the Bible devotionally in public schools.” (See the articles by Charles R. Kniker and John M. Swomley, “Should the Bible Be Taught in Public Schools?” BR 11:03.) The diverse groups supporting the guide include the American Federation of Teachers, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, the American Jewish Congress, the Council on Islamic Education and the National Association of Evangelicals.

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