The Bible as Literature in CA Schools

Smirking Chimp > SF Gate

Bibles would be given to every public school student in California unless parents objected under a proposed ballot measure by an Orange County man.

The secretary of state's office gave the go-ahead Monday to Matt McLaughlin who will begin collecting signatures for the ballot initiative that would allow the use of the Bible as a textbook in literature classes.

McLaughlin must collect 598,105 valid signatures by May 24, according to Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's office.

Voters would then decide whether to amend the state's constitution authorizing the voluntary use of the Authorized or King James Version Bibles for classes in elementary, middle and high schools.
The official website for this ballot initiative is here.

The actual text of the initiative is enlightening. The Bible (KJV only, without apocrypha, footnotes, commentary or margin notes) shall be provided to every CA student, from first graders to seniors. The KJV must also be "conformable in spelling, capitalization, and typeface to modern text." Now doesn't that change the literary achievement of the sixteenth-century translators? We had to read Beowulf in the original, and actually memorized a section of the Canterbury Tales in Middle English. I vote that the KJV has to be the original translation, approved by King James himself. Hehehe. I know, Shakespeare is updated and he wrote in the same time period. But we don't make kids read Shakespeare until at least the ninth grade, so maybe we shouldn't pass out the Bibles until the kids get to the proper reading level with it.

The Bible "is commendable in the study of such secular disciplines as history, literature, culture, poetry, law, language, ethics, science, and philosophy," says the initiative. Hey, I thought this was only going to be studied as literature. The initiative is trying to get it into history and science classes? Oh, brother.

You can "opt-out" of this furnishing of the KJV, but otherwise, your child will get a Bible. Imagine the fun as your child reminds the teacher that their parents have opted out of the Bible giveaway. Watch the child be ostracized for not getting the Bible. And will this giveaway be every year? Or will every student get a Bible the first year, and then only first graders and transfer students? I'm confused.

Finally, the "reading and study of the book shall be voluntary." A textbook that's voluntary to study. Boy, I wish I had assignments like that when I was going to school.

Hey, would this give science teachers the right to open up their class with an examination of why the Bible isn't scientific at all? "Now, class, this is what people thought about the origins of life before careful observation proved these words wrong. It's still a great story, though, right?"

Personally, I can't think of any better way to make kids disdain the Bible than to pass it out with their other textbooks. But hey! At least we've gotten the Bible back into public schools. That ought to be worth something.

The best way to get the Bible back into the public schools is to teach it to your children before they start going. This initiative is a sad joke. Of course, so is the new governor of California. Watch this initiative pass.