Biblical illiteracy is not just a religious problem. It is a civic problem with political consequences. How can citizens participate in biblically inflected debates on abortion, capital punishment or the environment without knowing something about the Bible? Because they lack biblical literacy, Americans are easily swayed by demagogues on the left or the right who claim — often incorrectly — that the Bible says this about war or that about homosexuality.Prothero's solution to this societal ill is to begin teaching biblical literacy in the classroom. He claims that since the Bible is of foundational importance to Western civilization, that it would serve America well to have it taught from a neutral stance, simply as a cultural document. Because biblical references are commonly used in everyday speech in the public square, with little knowledge of why they are used or their origin, that:
What makes sense is one Bible course for every public high-school student in the U.S. This is not a Christian proposal. It does not serve the political left or the political right. It serves our young people and our public life.So what do I fear? Fretfully, this: should (or could) the Bible be taught simply as a cultural document, for biblical literacy's sake, in public schools? Is that even possible? One thing Mr. Prothero does get right is this:
Yet U.S. citizens know almost nothing about the Bible. Although most regard it as the word of God, few read it anymore. Even evangelicals from the Bible Belt seem more focused on loving Jesus than on learning what he had to say.