As one of the most consequential books of all time, the Bible is certainly worthy of study for its literary and historic importance. Indeed, the Supreme Court asserted that in its landmark 1963 Abington ruling, which outlawed the practice of public schools reading the Bible as part of morning prayers. Academic study, though, is clearly not the aim of conservative Christian activists who have undertaken a nationwide push for Bible classes in public schools. That they have been emboldened by Donald Trump’s presidency and seem to be succeeding should be of concern to anyone who values the separation of church and state enshrined in the Constitution.
Activists on the religious right, through their legislative effort Project Blitz, drafted a law that encourages Bible classes in public schools and persuaded at least 10 state legislatures to introduce versions of it this year. Georgia and Arkansas recently passed bills that are awaiting their governors’ signatures.
Bible courses in public schools appeared to get a high-visibility boost Monday when President Trump tweeted about a group of states proposing such classes. “Starting to make a turn back? Great!” he tweeted. As a Bible scholar, I’d join with the president in affirming the value of a good grasp of the Good Book.