Bible Curriculum for Public Schools (1)

Most people would agree that the Bible is one of the most important documents in history. However, because it is also a religious book, public schools are sometimes hesitant to teach about the Bible due to issues of separation of church and state. In 1963, however, the Supreme Court made a ruling not against the study of the Bible in public schools, but rather against the devotional, religious use of the Bible in public schools. Supreme Court Justice Clark stated:

“It might be well said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literacy and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.” [School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 225 (1963)]

There are two main Bible curricula currently available for those public schools that would like to make an elective class on the Bible available to their students. These two curriculum choices are summarized below.

  1. The Bible in History and Literature
    Produced by: The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools

    The curriculum for the program shows a concern to convey the content of the Bible as compared to literature and history. The program is concerned with education rather than indoctrination of students. The central approach of the class is simply to study the Bible as a foundation document of society, and that approach is altogether appropriate in a comprehensive program of secular education.

  2. The Bible and Its Influence
    Produced by: The Bible Literacy Project

    A primary goal of the course is basic Biblical literacy—a grasp of the language, major narratives, and characters of the Bible. The course also explores the influence of the Bible in classic and contemporary poems, plays, and novels. Of course, the Bible is not merely literature—for a number of religious traditions it is sacred text. Our curriculum and online teacher training prepare teachers to address the relevant, major religious readings of the text in an academic and objective manner.

Further information concerning both of these curricula and their individual approaches is available at their respective websites as indicated above. Further information concerning the use of the Bible in public schools with respect to the First Amendment is available through the First Amendment Center at the following links:

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