Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and...Recess!!

Political observers probably won’t be too shocked to learn that one of the bills being bandied about during this year’s legislative session is a proposal to authorize public schools to begin teaching the Bible as part of their curriculum.

What might surprise you is who is introducing the bill – the chairman of the State Senate Democratic Caucus.

Tim Golden, the bill’s sponsor, asserts that the Bible course, as authorized in the bill would consist of, “nonsectarian, nonreligious academic study,” about the Bible’s influence on our culture.

There are two schools of thought on this. One viewpoint says, back away very slowly. We’re teetering on the precipice of a very slippery slope here.

On the other hand, the Bible is a legitimate work of world literature, and a darn sight better read than, say, Dubliners by James Joyce, which at least one member of your crack editorial staff had the displeasure of struggling through in high school.

Then there’s the politics of the matter. Are Tim Golden and the Senate Dems trying to out-Republican the Republicans? Are they running to the right to establish some measure of credibility on the so-called “values issues?” And even if they are, will the Republicans sign on en masse?

Needless to say, the ACLU is a bit nervous about the whole thing.

We want to know what you think. Weigh in below.

[Related: the AJC writes it up here.]

(The AthPo Useless Infographic is a new feature which will appear to assist our readers, whenever we get bored, or when we want to make fun of USA Today.)


DoubleDawgDareYa said...

The other half also did "The Dubliners" in high school, and didn't seem to mind it as much as you did.

Hoowee damn! How do I feel about this? The part of me that grew up in a Southern Baptist Sunday School thinks it might not be a bad idea, since there seems to be a lot of misinformation about the Bible out there (including in Southern Baptist Sunday School for that matter, but that's another post).

On the other hand, I can see the possibility of certain teachers essentially turning the class into a Southern Baptist Sunday School. And that wouldn't be good, not to mention unconstitutional.

Guess I'm just gonna have to play this one by ear and let my position evolve (or be intelligently designed, I guess). I look forward to seeing what others have to say about it.

Dawg Corleone said...

Dems can never out-Republican the GOP on things like this. That Dems might feel the need to try (and I'm not saying that's what Tim Golden is doing--I know him and he's a good guy) speaks to the disconnect they have with voters who know damned well where they stand on the Bible. The GOP is masterful in hooking up with those folks.

Some issues just naturally play better for one party than the other. So do some holidays. Republicans looked silly on King Day, smiling and clapping out of rythym (or however the hell you spell that word) while black choirs were singing.

Dems, on the other hand, ought not even show up on the 4th of July.

bulletdawg said...

As a Southern Baptist and loyal Democrat, I believe the introduction of a religion course in high school is a good idea. That is as long as the purpose is to thoroughly analyze the Bible’s influence on history, literature, and our cultural development. I think vigilant parents and the ACLU will make sure the course doesn’t devolve into a method of indoctrination.

It is also a brilliant political move by Sen. Golden and the other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. It’s hard to run against the “godless” Democrats, when it is the minority party that had the guts to finally introduce religion classes in our public high schools.

hillary said...

Even my liberal private high school used to have a course in this kind of thing that we were required to take, once upon a time, called "Myth & Bible," in which we studied those things. In theory, great idea. In practice, we'll have to see.

Anonymous said...

The public high school that I attended in suburban Cleveland, Oh in the 1980's had a junior level literature class that was called "Bible as Literature." It was a popular course that was very successful in keeping the course focused on the literature angle. Though, I suspect that was more of a testament to the teacher's ability and desire to teach the literature side of the Bible and not introduce a religious angle into it. However, I would suspect that teachers like that (especially in Georgia) are few and far between. I would not be supportive of allowing it here.


Jmac said...

It would be incredibly difficult to not interject religion into a class focusing on the study of a religious text, particularly with a class full of, presumably, Christian students.

In my Philosophy 101 class we often discussed Christian philosophers and it was very difficult for Christians in the class, myself being one of them, to separate arguments of faith from the secular argument the instructor wanted. Seeing how the Bible is, quite frankly, a book Christians live by, I don't know how this would work.

On a sidenote ... man I hated philosophy.

Jmac said...

Dems, on the other hand, ought not even show up on the 4th of July.

Being that liberals and progressives are responsible for the reason we celebrate that holiday ...

Publius said...

"Dems, on the other hand, ought not even show up on the 4th of July."

Why is that?

Dawg Corleone said...

For the same reason Reps ought not try to sing "We Shall Overcome" on King Day.

Dems come off looking great when the topic is race or health care or women's issues, lousy when the topic is patriotism or defense or national security.

Now that I think about it, I don't what this has to do with Bible class. Oh, wait: my original point was--Dems ought not get into this kind of contest with the GOP. They'll lose. Every time.

Jmac said...

But I don't know if that has to be the case, and I don't necessarily know if it is the case. I wouldn't say that the GOP doesn't care about racial issues or health care, it's just they haven't been able to speak with a clear voice on these types of things. Same thing with Democrats and national defense or national security.

But, until 10 years ago or so, Democrats had a hard time talking about fiscal conservatism ... but, according to most polls, a majority of Americans think the Democratic Party is better with the country's money than Republicans (granted this could change down the road), so it's not impossible to overcome such perceptions. Likewise, some perceptions are changing with regard to education and more people are starting to think Republicans have a strong vision for education.

It's amazing what a little hard work, good public relations and competent leaders can do.

gap said...

This is more grandstanding and distraction to keep our focus away from issues that matter.

Publius said...

I think any Republican who wants to go to an MLK celebration and sing "We Shall Overcome" is just fine in my book, as long as they're there for the right reasons, and not some sort of political posturing. I didn't see a whole lot of that a few days ago.
Similarly, while the GOP would love to paint the Democrats as unpatriotic, I imagine Jack Murtha and Jack Reed, and oh yeah, Senator Inouye from Hawaii might have an issue with that. I'm not going to try to "prove" my patriotism to anyone, because I don't really have to.
See you at the fireworks. I'll bring the chicken if you bring the potato salad.

Dawg Corleone said...

I'm sorry. I was talking politics. I didn't realize you wanted to talk substance.