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The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide is published by the Bible Literacy Project and the First Amendment Center.
A fully formatted Adobe Acrobat PDF file of the printed report can be downloaded here.
Download the Acrobat file of The Bible and Public Schools, with graphics. (130 KB)
Download the Acrobat file of The Bible and Public Schools, without graphics. (65 KB)
For additional copies of the report call: 1-800-830-3733 and request Publication No. 99-F03.
The issue of teaching the Bible in a literature classroom has been debated before, and it will most certainly be debated again… The argument some literature teachers make is that the Bible has made an indelible mark on our literature, and that without a basic understanding of Biblical stories, students are missing out. Of course, others would argue that a study of the Bible (in any form) has no place in a literature classroom.
Now, in an article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ann Rodgers talks about a new book, "The Bible and Its Influence," which she says "is intended to introduce high school students to the Bible and show its impact on literature, art and social movements." Will this book rectify some of the "Biblical illiteracy," or save students who are expected to know Biblical allusions in AP and other standardized tests?
Monday, October 24, 2005
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As lead attorney for the American Jewish Congress, Marc Stern has been at the forefront of keeping religious activities out of public classrooms. But now he is singing the praises of a new textbook to introduce public school students to the Bible and its influence on culture.
Cover from the book "The Bible and its Influence," by Cullen Schippe and Chuck Stetson
"I think they’ve done a very good job, and surprisingly so. It is very difficult to write a neutral textbook about something as freighted with meaning as the Bible," he said.
If "The Bible and Its Influence" is used as recommended by its publisher, there will be no grounds to sue, said Mr. Stern, who critiqued early drafts.
"Unless you believe that the Constitution requires that school districts teach the Bible only from the viewpoint of the most extreme biblical criticism, I don’t see any plausible challenge to this textbook," he said.
"The Bible and Its Influence" is intended to introduce high school students to the Bible and show its impact on literature, art and social movements. It delves into biblical references in Shakespeare and "promised land" imagery in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech. It can be used for an elective course or to supplement English or social studies.
Its editors argue that it is impossible to understand Western culture without knowing the Bible. They cite a guide to the Advanced Placement literature exam in which 60 percent of allusions were biblical, including "cast the first stone" and "Lot’s wife."
"This is not about religion. It’s about understanding a book that has influenced Western civilization more than any other book," said Chuck Stetson, chairman of the Bible Literacy Project, which produced the book.
Although many people think the Supreme Court banned the Bible from public schools in 1963, it banned only classroom devotional reading, he said. The decision stated, "Nothing we have said here indicates that … study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively … may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment."
Early drafts were critiqued by scholars across the breadth of Christian and Jewish traditions and by experts on church-state law. Its list of Hebrew Scriptures shows the Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant canons. Miracles are neither affirmed nor denied, only described.
Where there are wide differences over interpretation, such as Isaiah 53 on the "suffering servant," the text gives all sides:
"In general, Christians see in the servant songs a specific foreshadowing of Jesus and his sufferings," the book says.
"Jews often read the suffering servant as a portrait of Israel as a whole. Others, because the servant is depicted suffering for the sins of others rather than their own, view the servant as a portrayal of the ‘remnant’ who remain faithful to God despite exile. Some Jews do see the suffering servant as a description of the Messiah … but others do not."
Revelation, the most difficult and disputed book of the New Testament, gets three chapters. One of many "cultural connections" boxes examines themes from Revelation in the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
Every chapter offers students a choice of projects. In Revelation, they can research its imagery in popular culture, including novels, movies or television, or collect artistic interpretations of images in the book.
Mr. Stetson, who founded the Bible Literacy Project, is counting on good sales of the book, which costs $67.95 for a single copy but less for schools. Inquiries are coming in, he said, although textbook approval procedures will delay purchases until 2006.
"We’ll be judged by the marketplace," he said.
A venture capitalist by trade, he put his own money into the $2 million required to produce the book. It was self-published under the editorship of Cullen Schippe, a former vice president of Macmillan/McGraw-Hill.
Mr. Stetson, 59, an Episcopalian from New York City, started the project after his father urged him to use his skills to promote knowledge of the Bible. Surveys showed that 67 percent of Americans wanted students to gain a basic knowledge of the Bible and its impact on society, but fewer than 10 percent of public schools offered such teaching. In the business world, such disparity between demand and supply is almost unheard of, he said.
He had funding from the John Templeton Foundation, which promotes conversation between faith and science. But the book avoids the creation debate.
"This book is really focused on English and social studies. Science is different, and we stayed out of it," Mr. Stetson said.
The text says: "Some read Genesis as a literal account of the mechanics of creation. Still others read it as a poem about God’s relationship with humans. Many read the book as both."
The book gives little attention to scholarly debates over the authorship of the Bible, and it doesn’t delve into historical accuracy.
That’s fine for young students who need to learn the basic stories, said Dr. John Collins, professor of Old Testament criticism and interpretation at Yale Divinity School, who critiqued earlier drafts.
He likes the book.
"The main reservation I would have is that it probably spends more time on American literature and U.S. history than actually on the Bible," he said.
It got rave reviews from teachers and students who participated in a pilot program for teacher training and classroom use last year in the Pacific Northwest.
The editors "really went out of their way to make connections to modern times through music and literature. The kids really liked seeing those connections," said Stuart Rowe, an English teacher at Prairie High School in Brush Prairie, Wash. He was drafted for the pilot because he had taught a similar course. He found the new book a vast improvement over the text he had used, and has asked his school to buy it.
"They present the material in an unbiased way. It takes all of the pressure out. You don’t have to worry about what you are teaching. If a school is considering teaching a course [on the Bible], this is definitely the book to use," he said.
There does not appear to be a push to use it locally. Some local teachers said they saw a need to teach students about the Bible, but feared lawsuits.
"I don’t think people are averse to having references to the Bible and including that in the curriculum, but they are wary about how exactly that would fit and the pressure that would come down on them if they were to teach it and a student complained," said George Savarese, who teaches history at Mt. Lebanon High School.
Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., is often the first person school administrators call for advice on church-state dilemmas. In 2000, he brokered an agreement between groups as diverse as the National Association of Evangelicals, the American Jewish Congress, People for the American Way and the National Education Association on appropriate use of the Bible in public schools. "The Bible and Its Influence" was tailored to those guidelines.
"No textbook is perfect, and I’m sure there will be something that people will pick up that the rest of us missed. But whatever the motive of the Bible Literacy Project, their process has been absolutely to get this right," Dr. Haynes said.
"There are people out there who don’t want to see a Bible course that includes a variety of perspectives on how to interpret the Bible, but that is very important in a public school Bible course. With this, they can see how evangelical Christians use the Bible, how Jews use the Bible in different ways and how Catholics interpret the Bible."
To help schools’ use of the book, the Bible Literacy Project has arranged online teacher training through Concordia University.
Dr. Leland Ryken, an English professor at evangelical Wheaton College, was one of the instructors for the pilot teacher instruction course last year.
"I haven’t taught such an enthusiastic class for a long time. It was very rewarding," Dr. Ryken said of 30 public school teachers who tested the book. Most used it in English or social studies classes.
Biblical illiteracy isn’t confined to unbelievers, he said. When one of his Wheaton colleagues surveyed evangelical church youth groups, he found "a very low rate of biblical literacy."
He found the book more respectful of the biblical text than many seminary textbooks.
"It is intended for a pluralistic public school situation. What I want, what the Jewish reader wants, what the secularist wants, is to find his viewpoint accurately represented. And I can say that my viewpoint was accurately represented," Dr. Ryken said.
For more information see www.bibleliteracy.org.
The show will be held November 1 through December 16 in the Caten Gallery located in the musuem.
OGDENSBURG, NY (PRWEB) October 25, 2005 — The Frederic Remington Art Museum makes gift giving easy this season with the First Annual Art for the Holidays Consignment Show held November 1 through December 16. The show will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Caten Gallery located in the museum.
“We are very excited to be able to offer something new at the museum,” said Shop Manager Debbie Kirby, “With limited retail stores in the area this consignment show will give holiday shoppers an alternative venue to explore.”
The show, which is free and open to the public, offers artists the opportunity to sell their work locally, while allowing bargain shoppers to purchase unique trinkets and treasures all wrapped in a cozy, friendly atmosphere.
“Visitors to the show can expect to see a wide variety of talent and great holiday gift ideas that the whole family can enjoy,” Mrs. Kirby said.
Artists confirmed this year include: jewelry maker Mary Harding from Rensselaer Falls, NY, ceramic sculptor Max Coots from Canton, NY, glass jewelry maker Beth Smith from Tupper Lake, NY, painter Martha Deming from Rensen, NY, basket maker Wilma Angus from Hogansburg, NY, painter Hanna MacNaughtan from Ontario, Canada, and glass artist Marilyn French-St. George from Quebec, Canada.
Since there is no catalog available, shoppers must visit the consignment show in order to take advantage of all the charming holiday gift ideas. While there inquire about the museum membership program, which would make a great stocking stuffer. For only $25 you receive free admission to the museum for a year, invitations to special exhibit openings, the museum’s periodic newsletter, a 10% discount on all museum shop purchases, and a chance to win $2,500 in the holiday raffle held on December 3, 2005. Membership discount does not apply to consignment show items.
“Spend some time in the museum, visit the gift shop, and check our new exhibit display panels as they make their debut at the First Annual Art for the Holidays Consignment Show,” said Mrs. Kirby.
Celebrate the spirit of the season with The Frederic Remington Art Museum because the best gifts of all are those that come from the heart. A third of all proceeds will benefit the museum.
Their Past Your Future is a two-year education project that explores what we can learn about issues such as commemoration, conflict and citizenship. Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, the project is led by the Imperial War Museum and supported by the Big Lottery Fund. Their Past Your Future includes a wide range of activity for all ages throughout the UK.
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(PRWEB) October 20, 2005 — An innovative and interactive online exhibition (www.theirpast-yourfuture.org.uk) using materials from the collections of the Imperial War Museum enables users to learn about the impact of the Second World War on the people and landscape of the UK. The exhibition is being launched by the Imperial War Museum this fall to coincide with the 60th anniversaries of the end of the Second World War.
The site, designed by creative agency Rufus Leonard, is part of Their Past Your Future, a £10 million year long programme of commemorative events, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
The first of its kind on this scale to be developed by the museum, the site is an online version of the Their Past Your Future touring exhibition and contains materials, images and documents from the museum’s archives, enabling the museum experience to be accessed by visitors worldwide.
Amongst the wide range of materials available on the site are personal stories that use photographs, letters, documents and reminiscences to reveal how wartime experiences change people’s lives and how they remember those they lost.
Diaries written by veterans of the conflict and those on the Home Front offer users a fascinating insight into everyday life during wartime; and a regional image gallery containing vivid and emotive images of the era from across the UK gives users a more localised view of the conflict.
Interactive timelines provide information on key dates and events for each of the Home Countries; and specially commissioned films mix archive footage with modern day interviews to focus on the aftermath of the war and ongoing remembrance of these events. The exhibition is also supported by a non-interactive version to allow learners of all ages to use the materials for educational activities.
Informative and accessible, the site uses modern technology to bring the past alive and highlights one of the aims of the Their Past Your Future programme: making museums and learning available to everyone. The website coincides with the touring exhibition of the same name, which is visiting around 70 cities around the UK between February 2005 and February 2006, and aims to explore and highlight the war’s legacy.
Both the online and touring exhibitions offer a range of activities and resources designed to encourage everyone, from children to veterans, to find out more.
As well as being of interest to anyone wishing to better understand how the Second World War changed the UK and it’s landscape, the site is also a valuable educational tool, as material can be downloaded and used to accompany the teaching of history and citizenship, as well as being useful for other curriculum subjects and learning outside of the classroom.
With an estimated reach of three million Their Past Your Future is one of the largest programmes of its kind this year, with nine different touring exhibitions across the UK from 17 February 2005. Around 50 venues across England have been awarded grants by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to host the exhibition, with further grants awarded by partner organisations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Editor’s Notes in Attachments
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