The letter below was written in response to Will Munsil's "Putting the Bible back in public schools," which was published on October 14.
I disagree with Will Munsil's assertion that the Bible is the foundation of American political thought. On the contrary, the American form of government was rooted in the work of enlightenment philosophers such as Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. The U.S. Constitution's form of government has more resemblance to Caribbean pirate codes than to the Ten Commandments.I suspect this letter wasn't excluded by reason of content, but because they had already printed a couple of letters critical of Will Munsil's op-ed by the time I submitted this on October 16. Perhaps I should have mentioned that I'm an atheist, which makes the extent of my agreement with Munsil more interesting. Of course, my view is contrary to Munsil's in that I think Bible literacy is likely to decrease, rather than increase, religious belief. But it wouldn't surprise me if the NCBCPS curriculum is the one that Will Munsil had in mind.
That said, however, I agree with Munsil that knowledge of the Bible is worthwhile and should be taught in public schools for the purpose of cultural literacy, so long as it is done without endorsing Christianity or Judaism. The Bible Literacy Project's curriculum might be one way to do it. One way not to do it is to use the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools' curriculum--it takes a sectarian perspective, is full of errors, and has failed legal challenges in Texas and Florida for being unconstitutional.
I should point out that I think it should probably be taught as part of a world religions class that covers more than just Christianity--kids should not only get information about the Bible that they won't get in Sunday School, they should be informed about other religions, as well as the fact that history has been full of doubters of religion, as documented in Jennifer Michael Hecht's excellent Doubt: A History.
You can find out more about the NCBCPS curriculum that failed legal challenge in Texas here.
Munsil cited Stephen Prothero, whose op-ed piece, "We live in a land of biblical idiots," I wrote about at the Secular Web in early 2007.