At this point, I urge you to read the article in its entirety, and perhaps guess how I feel about the matter:
NASHVILLE, TN - Tennessee's state Board of Education has approved guidelines on how to teach the Bible in public high schools despite concern that the curriculum could be challenged in court.So, how “should” atheists feel about it?
Legislation approved in 2008 authorized a course for a "nonsectarian, nonreligious academic study of the Bible" in public schools.
State officials said they tried to develop principles that are safe from legal challenge, but some say a state-approved Bible course could violate the separation of church and state.
The course will teach students about the content of the Bible and its historical context. It's an elective, meaning high schools can choose whether to offer it to students as a social studies credit, and students can decide whether to take it.
I think the real question is: should atheists even care? The only argument I can even imagine would be “they could be learning something more useful.” Like what, Shakespeare? Come to think of it, I read all kinds of texts about gods and heros: Beowulf, the Odyssey, the Iliad, the Aeneid, as well as all sorts of Roman, Norse, Chinese, and African mythology.
Then again, I went to a private school that also allowed us to read from the Bible. It didn’t brainwash me or anyone I knew. If anything, it was my peer-pressure on friends that successfully deconverted people. The Bible is just not that powerful.
The article is too short, but there will be some problems with the school board’s plan. My main concern: which translation will be used? Which sect of Christianity will be marginalized? My schools avoided this by choosing scholarly translations (such as the Oxford editions), but I’m curious what Tennessee has decided.
Considering this atheist’s tolerance for legitimizing Bible study as a high school credit, maybe I can use this as an opportunity to leverage an issue dear to my heart: please remove “under God” from the pledge, or better yet just scrap the entire Orwellian practice of having children recite an oath they do not even understand.
So go ahead, teach the Bible in the classrooms. Let students see where some of societies strange prejudices come from. Atheists ought to be encouraging every believer to actually pick up a Bible and read it. Have you read it? It’s bat-shit insane.
This decision also gives creationists what they’ve been having wet-dreams about for decades: a chance to preach Genesis in classrooms. Maybe now they can shut up about teaching theology in science class. They can take their Biblical denial lessons in private, even if it is at tax-payer expense.
[story courtesy of Brittany at Small Dog. Big Stick.]