Anatomy of a Bible Course Curriculum

By Paterson, Frances R. A. | Journal of Law and Education, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Anatomy of a Bible Course Curriculum


Paterson, Frances R. A., Journal of Law and Education


ABSTRACT

A widely used Bible course curriculum suffers from a number of constitutional infirmities and is unlikely to be found constitutional if used as written in public schools. The curriculum, which is produced and distributed by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS), fails to present the Bible in the objective manner required for public school courses that teach about religion. The curriculum favors Protestantism over Catholicism and a literal interpretation over nonliteralist approaches to the Bible. As written, the curriculum would require teachers and students to make a number of faith statements. This article examines case law on the subject of Bible instruction in the public schools, offers a detailed analysis and critique of the NCBCPS curriculum, and suggestions for public schools contemplating adding a course in the Bible to their curricula. The critique focuses on questions related to the authorship of the course and recommended supplementary materials, the course content, and the language employed in the course materials.

I. INTRODUCTION

Like prayer, the teaching of evolution, and displays of the Ten Commandments, the inclusion of Bible courses in public school curricula has long been a contentious issue. Social conservatives responded to a series of highly publicized school shootings with calls to restore religion, including Bible study courses, to public school classrooms. According the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS), well over 100 school districts in approximately 30 states use the organization's curriculum. Those districts whose Bible study courses are based on NCBCPS materials are at substantial risk of litigation. A close examination of these materials reveals a number of constitutional infirmities. Through the inclusion and omission of various elements related to the study of the Bible and the ancient Near East, the NCBCPS curriculum presents the Bible as a factual historical document. Moreover, the materials favor Protestantism over Roman Catholicism. The primary effect of this curriculum is the promotion of conservative, evangelical Protestantism.

This article analyzes the NCBCPS curriculum to give school administrators and their attorneys information about areas that are particularly problematic when they teach or contemplate teaching such courses, including questions related to (1) authorship or sponsorship of the both the course itself and recommended supplementary materials, (2) the course content, and (3) the language employed in both written materials and oral presentation to students. In addition, this analysis will provide school board attorneys with information that will enable them to better advise their clients regarding the propriety of initiating or continuing public school Bible courses based on the NCBCPS curriculum.

In the wake of highly publicized school shootings in Paducah, Kentucky (1997), Jonesboro, Arkansas (1998), Springfield, Oregon (1998), and Columbine, Colorado (1999), social and religious conservatives have called for greater inclusion of religion in public schools. These calls have been translated into a variety of political initiatives, including bills allowing and/or requiring the posting of the Ten Commandments and permitting school prayer. Some activists have also urged that schools institute courses devoted to study of the Bible. A People for the American Way report indicated that Bible courses in the fourteen Florida districts that offered them suffered some constitutional infirmities.' In response to this report, the Florida Department of Education replaced its two Bible history courses, Bible History: Old Testament and Bible History: New Testament, with courses stressing a literary perspective and transferred them to the department's humanities. as opposed to its social studies, course list.2 IMAGE FORMULA36

No textbook for high school Bible courses is available, yet schools can teach religion courses successfully, and indeed, correctly developed and implemented courses in the Bible itself could be taught. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Anatomy of a Bible Course Curriculum
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.