Religious Right groups have been on a tear lately urging state legislators to pass bills that would establish “Bible literacy” classes in public schools. A new poll indicates that, once again, the theocratic wannabees are out of step with the American people. Most Americans, it turns out, don’t support public school classes that focus solely on the Bible.
The poll, produced for The Hill newspaper by Harris X, asked respondents, “Should public schools be required to offer classes on the Bible and not other religious or atheist books?”
Only 12 percent agreed that teaching about the Bible only was appropriate. Sixteen percent backed teaching about all religious books but excluding atheist tomes. Seventeen percent called for including all religious books as well as atheism. Nineteen percent said no religious books should be taught in public schools, and 18 percent said it should be up to local school officials to decide. (The rest expressed no opinion.)
The results are interesting because they provide the first snapshot of what Americans really think about this issue. That’s important because bills that would allow or require public schools to offer classes that purport to teach about the Bible as an academic subject keep surfacing in state legislatures, and a few have even become law.
While Americans United supports objective instruction about religion in public schools, we’re suspicious about this new drive. It’s clear that some legislators are advocating for classes that aren’t objective or that promote conservative views of Christianity.
“It’s part of an effort to establish this sort of narrow Christian agenda as the norm for our country, the government-sanctioned and -supported norm,” Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United, told The Washington Post recently.
AU has good reason to be skeptical. Consider who’s behind the push for these bills. It’s Project Blitz, a Religious Right effort to pass legislation in the states that codifies the U.S. as a Christian nation and weaponizes religious freedom to harm others. Other Project Blitz bills include displaying “In God We Trust” in public schools and allowing taxpayer-funded foster care agencies to turn away prospective parents who are the “wrong” religion or LGBTQ.
The groups funding Project Blitz – the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, the National Legal Foundation and WallBuilders – are far-right fundamentalists that promote the “Christian nation” myth. They don’t want truly objective instruction about the Bible in public schools; they want Sunday School lessons.
The American people aren’t fooled. The poll shows that most Americans want fair play when it comes to religion in public schools. Elevating the Bible above all other faiths and secular philosophies falls way short of that goal.