A non-binding resolution that encourages South Dakota public school districts to include academic study of the Bible earned final approval in the state legislature on Monday. The resolution passed the South Dakota House of Representatives by a large margin last week and, while facing greater scrutiny during the Senate’s floor debate, still passed with a comfortable 25-10 vote.
The measure urges districts to provide instruction that makes students familiar with the content, characters and stories of the Bible. The instruction is also supposed to make students aware of the role the Bible played in the development of literature, art, culture and public discourse.
National education groups including the National School Boards Association say the Bible can be taught in public schools, so long as the instruction is academic, does not press students to accept religion, doesn’t ask students to conform to a specific religious belief and does not encourage or discourage any specific religious views. This is consistent with a 1963 Supreme Court decision that banned ceremonial Bible readings in public schools but green-lighted the presence of the Bible in coursework so long as it was presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.
That all sounds great in theory, but a quick look at who supports and promotes these bills reveals not is all as it seems. Dr. Alex McFarland, author, speaker and national talk show host, recently launched Project 2026, a “15-year initiative to preserve America and restore her to the Christian principles the United States was founded upon through spiritual awakening and revival.”
Here we go.
“Bringing biblical education back to our classrooms is exactly what our country needs,” McFarland said. “The Bible, whether people want to believe it or not, is the book upon which our country was founded. These valuable Bible classes in our high schools don’t have to teach Christianity to be successful. To give students a working knowledge of the Bible, whether for spiritual or academic reasons, will help restore our country to those founding biblical principles.”
Other goals of McFarland’s Project 2026 initiative include forming organized coalitions; communicating through writing and syndicated radio programs; involving America ’s youth, parents and grandparents; creating small-group study materials; and hosting national conferences.
The six core beliefs of Project 2026 include:
· God —Christianity has been an integral part of America, and it must remain so if America is to thrive in the future. As five-time Virginia governor Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too often or too strongly, that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
· Family—The traditional family is a foundational “building block” of society, which should be affirmed within our culture as the normative model for marriage and child rearing.
· Life —Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore human life is sacred in all contexts. All people have inherent worth, value and dignity.
· Morality— America’s founders recognized absolute moral truths, calling them “self evident.” Our culture must recover the knowledge that morality is based not on changing human social conventions, but is tied to the unchanging character of God.
· Prayer and worship —It is the privilege, as well as the duty, of individuals and groups to pray for America. Worship and prayer have long been a part of the lives of America’s leaders and citizens; these should be encouraged again, in gratitude to God and for promotion of the common good.
· American exclusivism —American democracy has been a unique occurrence on the plane of history. America has influenced the spread of freedom throughout the world, yet we must be careful to defend liberty here at home. For the glory of God and the good of America, the U.S. Constitution, American laws and U.S. sovereignty must never become subservient to foreign powers, nor be compromised.
This is not an educational movement that will be satisfied with aspirational non-binding resolutions. It’s a crusade.
Photo from Ryk Neethling via flickr.