West Virginia Considering Bill to Require Bible History Elective for Schools

"The schools shall require regular courses of instruction by the completion of the 12th grade in the history of the United States, in civics, in the Constitution of the United States ... and making available, as an elective course of instruction, the history of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible," reads the amended text.

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Aaron Blumer's picture


Another case of using coercion where only persuasion has any chance of being effective. When you "require" an elective on the history of the Bible, you're mostly going to get a skeptical and damaging version of that history. Better to leave it alone and let people who care enough to get it right do the teaching -- to people who care enough to want to learn.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Susan R's picture


We can't turn back time to the day when school and church/religious instruction were intertwined. I'm weary of hearing about how we need to "get the Bible back in schools". Hey-let's get the Bible back in church first! It sounds to me like we want the world to do our work for us.

One of the purposes of the church is to build our families so they can effectively reach their neighbors and get involved in the community, showing compassion and meeting needs like real people.

We don't need the Bible in schools to do God's work, and the Holy Spirit isn't sitting around biting his fingernails because kids aren't reciting The Lord's Prayer or saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. 

I understand WV is having a major drug abuse crisis right now--statistically, it's one of the unhealthiest states in the US, and overdose deaths are rampant in the OH-KY-WV area. I think people know instinctively that they need to reach out to God, but a Bible History class ain't gonna' get you there.

Bert Perry's picture

.....for when the graduates of your standard state teacher's college get their hands on God's Word.  Judging by the caricatures of the Pilgrims and Puritans I learned in school, it won't be pretty--pretty much a few sparkling diamonds in a sea of coal.  As Susan says, let the church get it right first, and then we'll see some good things.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

There is a constitutional way to approach teaching the Bible, Richard Land said.

"It would seem to me the best solution in those areas where people want an elective course on religion and the Bible in the public-school curriculum would be to have an elective course taught by 'released time,' and let a Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Muslim student be 'released' during that period to be instructed in his understanding of the Bible by a qualified, religious teacher from his faith perspective under a syllabus worked out jointly between representatives of that faith tradition and the public-school officials," Land said…


David R. Brumbelow

GregH's picture

So for those who like this bill, how would you feel if it was an elective for teaching the Quran instead of the Bible? After all, the Constitution expressly does not give favored status to Christianity so if you do this for the Bible, what will your response be with Muslims ask for the same thing?


TylerR's picture


I agree with Aaron. I can absolutely guarantee the curriculum will be something like a watered-down version of Bart Ehrman. It will assume a naturalistic approach to Scripture. It will be along the lines of "comparative religion." There will be no call for repentance and faith in Christ. The course will not be taught by Spirit-filled, regenerated teachers. In short - this will probably do much more harm than good. It is a complete waste of time.

People should stop trying to re-finish America with a fake Christian gloss. George Marsden called America's veneer of civic Christian religion in the latter portion of the 19th century a "dime-store millennium." There is no need to go back to that.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture


You are quite correct. And every Baptist who supports a Bible elective should lend his support to a Quran elective, too. If, that is, he believes in religious liberty and understands his ecclesiastical heritage.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

On the one hand, it's pretty clear that most public schools (and universities for that matter) do a horrible job teaching about religion.  A good picture is that in Germany, where everybody gets religious instruction in school unless they specifically opt out, church attendance is abyssmal.  I think God gave this to families and the church, primarily, for a reason.

But that said, in a world where millions/billions of lives are impacted by various ideologies--Marxism, Islam, Christianity, etc..--shouldn't students have some grounding in them at the secondary level?   Hard to avoid some big level of bias, but perhaps even some bias in investigating old texts like the Bible, Quran, or even Marx's work would be good.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture


It might be helpful for some professional educators (Greg Long?) to weigh in on this.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

josh p's picture

This is a terrible idea IMO. It's tempting to want something like this as a corrective to the state sponsored evolutionary religious instruction but who would want the government teaching their children about the Bible? 

Joeb's picture

Susan your point is the best so far.  Don't bother let the church get it right first.  

Now there is some Christian's that follow Ted Cruz and Pappa Cruz's Dominionism beliefs who would support this.  They want to create a Christian Saudi Arabia in the US which they believe will cause the second comming of Christ.  

Of course biblically Cruz and his father are false prophets ie Ted is ordained by God to be President per Pappa Cruz.  Oops they believe in second chances which is not biblical.  

I have no idea what is motivating this.  My best guess is being that West Virginia is a Lille white State and lots real right wing hill Billie nuts who think forcing the Bible on people will change them.  I guess if your desperate you will try anything if everything is going bad.

Like I said before in them there Hills you have a lot wack jobs and severe economic problems.  It could the ravages of the coal industry and the poverty along with heroin causing this desperate measure.  

Its a shame because they do have some good institutions in West Virginia like the West Virginia Bible College. It's a shame that this institution could not be the one doing the course but on a voluntary basis with the students getting credit.  The downside is you open the door to Islam or whatever. I say let them open the door and let the students choose. It would really be the only way to do it.   

PS.  I like WV Bible College  a lot because a good number of the Profs got their M Div from Grace Seminary.  A great man of God I knew in High School Donald Fullerton said he sent all his boys to Grace.  Donald Fullerton was the founder of Princeton Evangelical Fellowship and referred all the Princeton Grads to Grace.  This guy was a real American hero Missionary and Godly man.  He even chased Pancho Via with General Jack Black Pershing and was an Artillery Officer in WW I.  Google his name.  I also believe he would fit the bill of being a true Fundementalist in the true sense of the word.  

Andrew K's picture

As a public high school teacher, I would echo many of the concerns here. On the whole, I'd be far more comfortable pushing a required "Bible-as-literature" elective instead; since analyzing literature necessarily involves the suspension of objections, at least until the text is understood on its own terms.

A good curriculum would be a must, though. I currently teach seniors using a high school Common Core textbook (Pearson) and while their brief section on the KJV (two psalms, "The Prodigal Son" and an exerpt from "The Sermon on the Mount") is not as awful as one might expect, it doesn't exactly push the students toward stellar exegesis either.