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The Bible in Secondary Schools
The Bible in Secondary Schools
In 2007, the SBL initiated a taskforce on the Bible in secondary schools—in part a response to increased interest in Bible electives in public schools. While the number of schools offering Bible electives is relatively small, the SBL provides some teaching resources and updates on nationwide trends.

Teaching the Bible is designed to support teachers of secondary school Bible electives, it features easy to read and reliable resources that you can use in your classroom.
Read archived issues of TB 

Read Bible Electives in Public Schools: A Guide, an SBL-produced guide to teaching the Bible in public secondary schools.

Teaching Standards and Curriculum Design
SBL member and SMU faculty member Mark Chancey has completed a study of Bible courses in Texas public high schools for the Texas Freedom Network. In 2007 the Texas legislature passed a bill that required public high schools to include some treatment of the Bible and its influence in their courses. This thorough study reveals the pressing problems related to teacher training, curricular development, and religious bias. You can read the full or abridged report here. 
Textbook Reviews
Mark A. Chancey, “A Textbook Example of the Christian Right: The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75 (2007): 554-581.

"Review of the Bible in History and Literature",Religion & Education 34.3 (Fall 2007)

Steven McKenzie’s review of the Bible and Its Influence SBL Forum (Nov 2005)  “Bible Bills, Bible Curricula, and Controversies of Biblical Proportions: Legislative Efforts to Promote Bible Courses,” Religion & Education 34 (2007): 28-47.

Luke Timothy Johnson review of The Bible and Its Influence A Bible Curriculum for Public Schools,” Christian Century, Feb. 21, 2006, 31-37.

SBL Books and Teacher Resources (pdf)

The Bible Literacy Project


State of Georgia Attorney General’s 1999 Opinion on the NCBCPS Curriculum

Court Cases
Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)
Doe v. Porter (E. D. Tenn. 2002)
Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987)
Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968)
Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)
Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District(M. D. Penn, 2005)
McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 (1948)
Moreno v. Ector County Independent School District Board of TrusteesComplaint
District to Settle Bible Suit” by Neela Banerjee, New York Times, March 6, 2008

See Prof. Mark Chancey’s website for more:

Harvard Divinity School Religious Literacy Project
First Amendment Center
Released Time
The Religion and Public Education Resource Center (RPERC) at Californian State University, Chico
Religious Studies in Secondary Schools
Texas Freedom Network
First Freedom Center


American Academy of Religion Curriculum Guidelines for K-12 
International Guidelines for Teaching Religion in Public Schools

Anti-Defamation League, “Religion in the Public Schools: Religion in the Curriculum”
People for the American Way, The Good Book Taught Wrong: Bible History Classes in Florida Public Schools
Church-State Links from the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies, Baylor University
“Religion in the Public Schools: A Joint Statement of Current Law” (April 1995)
U. S. Department of Education, “Religious Expression in Public Schools” (1995)
The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide
SBL has worked with The Bible Literacy Project and the First Amendment Center to provide a written framework for discussion of the issue of teaching Bible in public schools while adhering to the first amendment to the Constitution. (The pdf is 20 pages and 1.84 MB)
New International Guidelines for Teaching Religion in Public Schools
A commentary on the guidelines by Charles C. Haynes of the First Amendment Center: To Advance Religious Freedom, Teach About Religion
Released Time Programs
Studying The Bible In Public Schools? By Steven Dial

News Arizona legislator proposes measure to offer Bible study class as high school electiveNational School Boards Association, Legal Clips, 1/24/12
South Dakota Encourages Bible Study in Public Schools, by Sam Favate for the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, 2/1/12
Bible in schools not a topic for the Legislature Editorial for the Arizona Daily Star, 1/18/12
And lo! Gove's Bible project did run into a spot of bother by Patrick Wintour for The Guardian, 1/17/12
Fact check: Does Texas teach creationism in public schools? Is it constitutional? By NBC's Domenico Montanaro and Pete Williams, 8/18/11
15 Churches Unite to Support Bible Classes at Brainerd High, The Chattanoogan, 9/2/11
Film explores shifting debate over evolution By Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service, 10/11/11
State-paid Bible School by Max Brantley, Arkansas Times, 11/9/11
A report on teacher training efforts in Texas
Bible valid as an Academic Subject by Kent Richards, Atlanta Journal Constitution,
“Bibles in the Classroom? It’s OK, but be sure to teach, not preach” by Michael D. Simpson, NEA Today February 2008
Alabama Picks a Bible Textbook” by David Van Biema, Time Magazine
"The Case for Teaching the Bible” by David Van Biema, cover article for Time Magazine, March 22, 2007
First Amendment Center article by Charles Haynes, “Bible showdown in Odessa could have Texas-sized impact ” May 27, 2007.
Mark Chancey, “Bible Courses in Public Schools: SBL’s Response to a Growing Trend
Leonard Greenspoon, “Bible Literacy PollsSBL Forum
David Levenson, “University Religion Departments and Teaching about the Bible in Public High Schools: a Report from FloridaSBL Forum

NOVA's The Bibles Buried Secrets can be viewed at their site. The two hour program is broken into five to ten minute chapters for easier classroom use.

Contact us:
If you are an SBL member and would like to get involved in our public outreach efforts, or if you have additions to the links on this page, please contact: Christopher Hooker.



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