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The legacy of the Bible is under heated debate in US public schools once again. A Tennessee judge has banned teaching of the Bible in Rhea County, TN based on evidence that teachers (students at a local Christian college) were evangelizing, not educating. Several other counties in Tennessee continue to teach courses on the Bible from an "academic" perspective.

The language about how to teach the Bible in public schools indicates just how delicate the subject is. Diplomatically vague guidelines state that teachers shall "teach awareness but not acceptance," shall "inform but not indoctrinate," shall "expose but not impose". What other academic subject matter rides such a tenuous line between the personal and the public, the sacred and the secular?

Even the language of best intentions and legality might raise eyebrows within the arena of bible scholarship. What constitutes "objective" or even "academic" study of the Bible? If the Bible is to be taught as history or literature in an elective course, which approaches, which translations, which methods will be used?

Undoubtedly the First Amendment Center and the Bible Literacy Project have thought such things through, as may have many of our members. We want to know what SBL members have to say about their contributions to Bible education in the schools, both in the US and beyond. See our poll in this issue.

For further information:

Full text of The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide

The Bible Literacy Project, Inc.


The First Amendment Center

tel: 1-800-830-3733

Citation: Moira Bucciarelli, " Teaching and the Bible: Thou Shalt Not?," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited March 2005]. Online:


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