Public schools in a number of the 50 states that comprise the United States of America are allowed to teach Bible literacy classes. Such classes are required to be of a secular nature. The course work must be structured to teach the Bible objectively as an English teacher would treat any piece of secular literature. Most people have no objections to that—just so long as the course is presented to students in that way. After all, the Bible is an important piece of literature. It has enormous historical significance in the context of the development and evolution of western civilization. If the course is indeed taught in a secular way, which is legal under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that is good educational news.
Unfortunately, there is way too much bad news in too many of these Bible literacy classes. Efforts to promote Bible literacy classes to local school boards are often led by dishonest Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. In too many instances, the Bible course materials used in classes have been developed by fundie organizations. Why? The fundies see such courses as a wide-open door for illegally side-stepping the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This open door allows them to cleverly sneak the teachings of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism into the public school curriculum. Moreover, the course proponents and their outside allies work hard to make sure the person teaching the class is a local Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical.
If an official from the North Carolina Department of Education makes an announced visit to the class one day, it will appear that the Bible is being taught objectively as secular literature. However, the truth may be something quite different. On all the other school days, little Miss Minnie is teaching the entire Bible literacy class as she would her Sunday school class down at the Possum Holler IFB Church. It is no accident that her 97-year-old dad just happens to be the pastor of that church, which explains why she knows so much about the Bible. Her real educational purpose is to indoctrinate the students in her high school classroom with the unique fundie perspective on the Bible.
Miss Minnie plans to use this course to lead all of her evil, apostate United Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian USA, Disciples of Christ, and Roman Catholic students to a classic personal salvation experience through Jesus Christ—the unique fundie way. She plans to double-down even harder on the Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, and “none” students. When all her students have become “true” Christians, she hopes they will recognize the need to attend an exclusively Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical church. The students will then bring their evil parents to church with them so they too can get saved—-of course—the right and proper fundie way. Miss Minnie has high hopes. One day, in the twinkling of an eye, every member of her community will awaken as a “true” Christian. The entire population of the town will be raptured into Heaven on that wonderful day when Jesus comes back for them. The people in the next town down the road, the ones with no Bible literacy class in their high school, will look up into the blue sky. They will see thousands of people floating in the air with Jesus and cry out: “Oh woe is us!!! We have been left behind!”
You get the overall picture here. You see what the fundies are really up to with many of these Bible literacy classes in your public schools. Here is an example of just one public school system in Kentucky that is alleged to have practiced a version of this educational dishonesty and treachery:
The Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog has no objection to all American school-age children being saved by Jesus Christ. After all, this is a Christian blog. Such salvation by Jesus Christ through his grace are classic tenets of the Christian faith. So, what are our objections to these Bible literacy classes? We have the following four major objections:
(1) Taking a Bible literacy class that is required by the state to be a secular and objective literature class—and then turning it into a Sunday school class targeted at indoctrination of students into Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism—is just plain wrong. Doing so is the daily practicing of a bold-faced lie. The engineering, promotion, and practice of such raw deceptions are not Christian ways of doing things. They are the stealthy ways of the Force of Evil in our universe. Christians have no business practicing such evil and devilish mimicry. It is just plain sinful for Christians to deal in such bold-faced lies.
(2) We Mainline Christians reject the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical assumption that our Christian children are evil apostates who need to be saved through a Bible literacy class in our public schools. We know the gospel of Jesus Christ well already. Our children learn it well in the Sunday school classes at our churches and in our homes. We do not want or need any of their ridiculous fundie baggage concerning the Bible and the so-called “true” Christian faith being taught to our children on the sly at school.
Fundies. Listen up and listen up good! Leave our Mainline Christian children alone in our public school classrooms! Capiche?
(3) Teaching a Bible literacy class as a fundie Sunday school class is a blatant violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is illegal—plain and simple. The First Amendment protects parents and their highly impressionable school children from state indoctrination with religious beliefs that are different from those of their parents and their houses of worship. Historically, fundie Christians who live in Hawaii have had a great deal of difficulty with public school teachers trying to indoctrinate their children into Shintoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. The First Amendment protects these Christian parents and their children from that—and they appreciate it too. Despite this fact, the fundies insist that their beliefs should be exempt from the protective constitutional standard that applies to everyone else. No way!
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the way it is applied by the U.S. Supreme Court are good. They protect the religious beliefs and practices of all Americans—as Thomas Jefferson hoped they would. The words of the Bible require all Christians to obey the criminal and civil laws in the nations where they reside. With regard to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the fundies are always trying to find novel ways to side-step the law or outright violate it. In so doing, they reject what the Bible requires them to do—obey the law.
(4) Historically, and as a grand ideal, American culture and society in the United States have held high a system of even-handed fair play where everyone is expected to fight fair and do so on a level playing field—and may the best man, group, or team win. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals reject this long-standing American ideal. In the realm of American religion, they firmly believe that they—and they alone—should possess special advantages and privileges over Mainline Christians, members of other religions, and people with no religion. In so doing, the fundies reject this great American ideal of fair play. They want an American culture and society rigged corruptly and exclusively in their favor. You almost never see Mainline Christians (United Methodists, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, etc.) coming up with sly, illegal plans to indoctrinate children in our public schools. Attempts at such indoctrinations are pretty much an all-fundie enterprise.
Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals need to respect and play by the same idealized rules everyone else does in American religion, and do so on the same level playing field as everyone else. They should have no special rights or privileges over everyone else. If they want to convert school-age children to their fundie belief system, they should invite parents and children to their churches like everyone else does. They should knock on doors like everyone else does. They should sponsor special religious events like everyone else does. They should use religious media like everyone else does. They should share their faith in private with friends, acquaintances, and new people they meet—-like everyone else does—rather than trying to create special rights, privileges, and advantages for themselves that no one else has. The American people do not like any person or organization that violates the long-standing American system of fair play.
Why do the fundies seek such special religious privileges and advantages—and why are they so desperate to invade our public schools? That one is easy to answer. Mainline Christians and other Americans see hardcore Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals for what they really are—religious extremist nutjobs. Many millions of Americans see right through their heavy-handed religious baggage and all the ridiculous garbage strewn through it. They see the absence of true Christian love. They see the hatred. They see the lies. They see the racism. They see the rejection of true facts as a matter of faith. They see the craziness and insanity we talk about in the 200+ articles on this blog.
When the fundies carry their beliefs door-to-door, they often get doors slammed in their faces. Long ago, in my Southern Baptist days, doors were slammed in our faces on Wednesday night visitation. Were some of those people rejecting Jesus? Perhaps. However, I firmly believe that most rejections of this nature have little to do with fear of Jesus. I have seen too many atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and “nones” who honestly say that they admire Jesus Christ, his words, and his deeds. Instead, I believe the slammed doors are a thorough rejection of the ridiculous, rural backwoods, down-home- tent-revival subculture of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism. To any halfway intelligent American, it looks just plain stupid.
As well, ordinary people are rejecting all of the hateful, mean-spirted, untruthful, and politicized things that go on all the time within that unique fundie subculture. In the face of such public rejection, the fundies have become more desperate to get out their message. Therefore, they seek special exemptions, rights, and privileges no one else gets to help them overcome the negative fallout from the bad (but well-deserved) reputation they have garnered in the eyes of the American people since 1925—and especially since 1970.