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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Conservative Groups Oppose Bible Literacy Bill

Conservative Christian groups have come out against a House Democrat initiative to teach Bible literacy in Alabama public schools. John Giles of the Alabama Christian Coalition seems to sum up their sentiment pretty well,

"It is clear this is frivolous and feel good election year legislation"
This seems like an idea the Christian Coalition would generally trumpet, but since the sponsors have a "D" and not an "R" next to their name their support is not so unequivocal (not that there isn't politics on the Democratic side of the equation as well). In the same contrarian vein Sen. Hank Erwin and Rep. Jim Carns are introducing legislation saying that the Democratic Bible literacy legislation is unnecessary.

I can understand the GOP's frustration with Democrats' moving onto their recent turf, but I'll be very surprised if many of the Republicans actually vote against the Bible literacy bill if it comes to the floor.


Anonymous SouthernLawyer said...

I took the trouble to read parts of the textbook required by the bill. It's very slick, no doubt because $2 Million was spent to produce it. But it's also hostile to a conservative perspective on the Bible.

It's probably not even necessary to read the text, however, to have a good sense of the perspective it promotes. All you really need to know is that this curriculum has been endorsed by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State and People for the American Way.

Whatever you think about these groups, there's no doubt they are very consistent in supporting the political agenda of the Left, which does not include a view of the Bible as God's word, and it's unlikely they'd make a mistake, from their perspective, on something like this.

In view of the above, I think it's fair to conclude the main reason for the conservative Christian groups' opposition to this bill is the liberal viewpoint taught by the curricululm, not the fact that the bill requiring that curriculum is sponsored by Democrats.

5:03:00 AM  
Blogger PoliSciZac said...

Fair points, SL. You've obviously done more research on the subject than I (or most of the people who will actually vote on it).

My only response would be that the objection you articulated to the bill is not the same one being used by the GOP and its allies.

They argue against a state curriculum, or that it's unnecessary, or just question the Democrats motives instead of taking on the bill on substance.

If the GOP ran with the argument you forwarded they might could even turn the issue against the Democrats and peel off conservative Dem support of the bill.

It'll be interesting to watch how it plays out.

6:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember -- Jesus was a liberal. See Matthew 25:31-46.

7:23:00 AM  
Blogger Don said...

SouthernLawyer said....."the fact that the bill requiring that curriculum is sponsored by Democrats."

Actually I believe the Guin/Hammett bill does not "require", but "allows". And, it is totally unnecessary because Bible non-religious courses are already being conducted in several Alabama schools, using two other textbooks other than the one specified in Guin's bill. Plus it circumvents the authority of the state school board and the textbook committee. It makes one wonder why those two supposedly astute legislators would offer such a bill. With the clout they have in the HOR, they may be able to get it approved in spite of the flak it receives. And, as Zac wisely observed, “I'll be very surprised if many of the Republicans actually vote against the Bible literacy bill if it comes to the floor”. I would change that from Republicans to legislators. After all, this is an election year and this is real feel-good God and country Mom and apple pie legislation.

8:35:00 AM  
Anonymous SouthernLawyer said...

Anon, Thanks for the Scripture reference, which describes the day when the Supreme Judge of the World, Jesus Christ, judges all who ever lived, separating them into "the sheep" and "the goats," those who go to heaven and those who go to hell.

It's interesting that you believe this passage indicates Jesus was a liberal, as liberal theology historically has denied the existence of hell and generally regarded man, not God, to be the highest judicial authority.

We see this at work today on the U.S. Supreme Court, the liberal majority of which does not believe the Creator has endowed people with inalienable rights but, instead, that human rights are determined by "evolving standards of decency" that the Court identifies and imposes on everyone else.

I think this passage doesn't say Jesus is a liberal or a conservative. Instead, it says he is the final Judge over all men, whether they admit his lordship, like most conservatives, or deny it, like most liberals.

Perhaps a better Scripture passage to reference in this matter is Joshua 5:13-15, which shows God refuses to be subject to particular allegiance to any man or people, even a great man like Joshua or God's beloved Israelites of old:

"When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”

And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”

And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

It will be interesting to see in the days to come whether the Alabama legislators who profess to be Christians (Democrat or Republican) follow Joshua's example and seek to submit their legislative proposals to God's word for his judgment or whether they just try to get him on their respective sides.

8:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

southernlawyer makes a good point in his first post, and I have no reason to doubt the veracity of what he says.

The problem is, any textbook that would advocate the Bible in its purely religious context would probably not survive the predictable court challenges.

However, I don't share his confidence in the motives of John Giles, et al, on this Bible class issue. They (Giles, et al) have proven time and again that their agenda is more about budget policy and using relgion for political power than advocating policies that actually solve the problems of our State or exemplify the message of Jesus.

Remember, these are the same folks that took Casino money from Abramoff to fight a lottery here in Alabama. Deals with the Devil are not part of God's Word, as I recall.

I would also submit that all of our legislators who profess to be Christians look to the New Testament Jesus as their guide for policies guiding our state. A few of His Words come to mind:

"Love the Lord with all your heart..and your neighbor as yourself."

"Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's"

"Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of do it to me."

Let's remember, the message of Christ - as spoken by Him - is found in the Gospels. If we profess to be Christians (i.e., followers of Christ) then we should ALL look to His example for study and prayerful consideration.

8:49:00 AM  
Anonymous YouCan'tHandleTheTruth said...

I'ts interesting to read that there are "liberal" and "conservative" perspectives on the Bible. I know that I am a lot more comfortable with the things that Jesus said than with John Giles' perspective of what Jesus said. I thought I was a liberal until SouthernLawyer said that the U.S. Supreme Court had a "liberal majority." I guess I'm something else.

9:59:00 AM  
Anonymous VRWC said...

Like most bills, this one is all about money. This has nothing to do with teaching anything other than how to get rich -- write a textbook, spread around some cash to lobbyists and for political fundraisers, and then con the legislature into mandating YOUR textbook to the exclusion of all others. This is a great campaign issue and will be used heavily against those who think voters are idiots and vote for this bill.

10:45:00 AM  
Blogger The Alabama Moderate said...

I wonder if there were any lobbyists for the textbook publishing company that were involved in this little legislative gem... I'd like to take a look at this year's campaign contributions...

Either way, as a Christian, I don't want someone else (especially a government institution like a public school) telling my kid how to interpret the Bible. Heck! Not even Christians can agree on it!

3:12:00 PM  
Blogger An Alabama Doctor concerned for kids said...

It is amazing what people will say about the Bible, I personally helped write the bill, and I am a card carrying, evangelical and republican activist for the last 30 years..

I would like to know why someone thinks that talking about the bible in a nonsectarian way, that doesnt promote a specific religious viewpoint, is hostile to the Bible...Secondly, the purpose of the course is not to teach the different beliefs of the bible but to talk about and help students recognize the references to the bible in literature, which on numerous surveys have shown that less than 8 percent of students have any significant knowledge of the bible. If someone wants students to understand the various religious beliefs, then have a comparative religious course...

Finally, the americans for separation of church and state have not endorsed the Bible literacy project, in fact, they and Alabama atheist oppose it...
The only difference between this and other bible lit courses is that it doesnt promote or endorse one specific faith perspective, and was developed because so many lawsuits were being filed against other such courses, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars in court and attorney fees.

Finally, I think that the array of endorsers of the Bible literacy project, include Redeem the vote, Chuck Colson, the National Assoc of evangelicals, and Campus Crusade as well as Wheaton College and Moody Bible Institute. They are hardly liberals or individuals who would denigrate the bible.

The question of the need for the bill is important, this act is needed so school boards will have direction in using a text that will not provoke lawsuits and give students a great understanding of the bible particularly when the AP English literature course has over 60% of the allusions relate to the Bible...

So, we need this... maybe some adults think they already know everything about the bible, I learn something new each time I read

An Alabama Doctor concerned about kids

10:29:00 PM  
Anonymous SouthernLawyer said...

Dear Alabama Doctor,

I stand corrected with respect to Americans United; as you say, it does oppose the Bible Literacy Project. I was thinking of the ACLU and wrote Americans United. There may be some small excuse for the error: it has been about a month since I did the research, and the two groups do often work together. At any rate, thanks for the correction. And my apologies for the error.

I was correct, however, with respect to People for the American Way. The page below (combine the two lines to go to the page) shows them expressing support of the Bible Literacy Project while attacking its main competition, the National Council for Bible Curriculum in Public Schools:

You, however, are mistaken in claiming endorsements of the Bible Literacy Project by Campus Crusade, Wheaton College, etc. Actually, the Bible Literacy Project has been endorsed by individuals affiliated with these organizations. That is hardly the same thing as the organization itself endorsing the curriculum.

What you call the Campus Crusade endorsement, for example, is actually a personal endorsement by Vonette Bright, wife of the late Bill Bright, Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. She is a sweet lady, but she is hardly a theologian and cannot endorse the BLP on behalf of Campus Crusade.

Most of the other organizational endorsements you claim are actually by individuals at those organizations, as readers can see here:

And, even as individuals, many of these endorsers are not that conservative theologically.

By contrast, the endorsements for the National Council for Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which include both individuals and organizations, are much more consistently from theological conservatives (e.g. Jesse Helms and J.C. Watts):

There is much more that could be said, of course, but the bottom line to me is that, whatever the merits or demerits of the Bible Literacy Project, it is not, as it is being presented by many, a conservative but still lawsuit-proof Bible curriculum for public schools.

I have no doubt, Alabama Doctor, that your intentions in assisting with this bill were noble. But I don't think you were told the whole story when you got involved. And the legislators and people of Alabama are likewise still not getting the whole story.

11:32:00 PM  
Blogger The Alabama Moderate said...

I have nothing against children being given the Bible as a piece of literature without specifying a particular viewpoint, except that it's nearly impossible to do. With any piece of literature, the teacher has a tendancy to express his/her own interpretation of that literature. In college, I was actually given a "C" on a paper because I disagreed with my professors interpretation of the book of Job. My viewpoint on any literature is that it can be interpreted in as many different ways by as many people who read it, and there is no specific right or wrong answer. When you get into reading and interpreting the Bible, it is even harder to stick to an agreement on what one word means, much less an entire verse or chapter.

10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous In the Know about Brinson said...

"Redeem the Vote" IS now a liberal group as founder Randy Brinson's money problems have caused him to sell out to Paul Hubbert. He is a modern day "30 pieces of silver" kind of traitor.

10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Tom Paine said...

Bible Literacy you say? how but basic phonics, spelling, arithmetic? how can 99% of ala pub school children understand biblical language when they cant even gain working knowledge of the most basic principles of english, but can sho nuff git uppa in dey widdit uh huh quiddit, ghetto rap slap mofo jive widif fiddy cent?

11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Don said...

I refer back to my prior post on this topic in which I said, “Actually I believe the Guin/Hammett bill does not "require", but "allows". And, it is totally unnecessary because Bible non-religious courses are already being conducted in several Alabama schools, using two other textbooks other than the one specified in Guin's bill.”

Other comments posted since then seem to overlook the reasons given for why the Guin/Hammett bill should not be approved, nor have those reasons been disputed.

9:36:00 AM  
Blogger Don said...

My last post should have included this other reason for the bill to not be approved: "Plus it circumvents the authority of the state school board and the textbook committee.”

9:44:00 AM  
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