Written by Don Byrd
A new poll released by The Hill indicates that a large majority of Americans believe the public school curriculum should not include religious literacy classes that focus solely on the Bible. The data comes amid a concerted effort by state legislators around the country to authorize such classes. (See: Georgia, Missouri, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, and Florida.) The campaign, spurred by Project Blitz, has generated substantial opposition, including from the Baptist Joint Committee because of the threat it poses to religious freedom.
The poll suggests that not only do such courses undermine key historical protections, they are also very much unpopular. Only about 1 in 8 Americans believe that school districts should offer classes only on the Bible.
The question posed to poll respondents was: Several states are considering laws that require high schools to offer elective classes about the Bible but not about other religious or atheist books. Which comes closest to your opinion?
Here are the results:
12% – States should require schools to offer new history classes about the Bible only
16% – States should require schools to offer new history classes about all major religions
17% – States should require schools to offer new history classes about all major religions and the history of atheism
19% – States should not allow schools to offer history classes about any religious books
18% – States should let schools determine whether to offer history classes about religion and atheism
17% – Unsure
Americans may not have a clear consensus on how to incorporate religion into the public school curriculum, but they seem fairly united against the troubling Bible class proposals that are gaining momentum in many of our state legislatures. As the Coalition of religious freedom advocates including the BJC wrote about the Project Blitz campaign, it is an “alarming effort… to harness the power of the government to impose the faith of some onto everyone else, including our public school students.”
If this poll is any indication, the American people want nothing to do with it.
For more, also see an editorial from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board opposing efforts to promote Christianity in public schools, calling them not just unlawful but unAmerican.