State Issue: Public School Bible Classes

Recent attempts to insert bible classes into public school curricula are based on the Project Blitz model legislation called the “Bible Literacy Act,” lifted straight from the Project Blitz playbook. Project Blitz is a three-pronged Christian Nationalist strategy designed to flood legislatures with bills that use the machinery of the state to promote Christianity. Project Blitz’s goal is to make Christians a favored class and all non-Christians second-class citizens. The intent of these bills is thus inherently highly suspect.

It is difficult to teach the bible objectively and critically, as the First Amendment requires. For instance, few Christian parents want their public schools teaching that some bible translations claim that Jesus was born of a “virgin” because they mistranslated the Hebrew word for “young woman.” This simple fact would have to be taught in unbiased classes and is recognized in more accurate bible translations. Classes would have to include objective lessons like this—they cannot omit facts that contradict a pro-Christian narrative. In practice, K-12 bible classes will almost invariably and impermissibly promote the teachers’ personal religious beliefs. The FFRF Action Fund thus opposes all bills that would insert such classes into public school curricula.

Public school students should learn about religion, in the context of studying cultural diversity. In fact, learning about religious traditions apart from the majority religion where students live is often a first step for students to realize that most religious beliefs and affiliations are primarily an accident of geography, leading to a healthy skepticism of the belief systems that students were indoctrinated into. However, in practice such studies are rare and require subtle expertise in teaching that is more likely to be found at the university level.