Bible Classes in West Virginia Public Schools: A Bad Idea


by John Ellis

My high school basketball coach was fond of saying, “Good idea, bad execution.” That’s a helpful saying that I’ve frequently used over the years, especially now that I have kids. Proposing a twist on the platitude, I suggest that, at times, an idea may be bad because there is very little chance that the execution could ever be good. The state of West Virginia is on the verge of implementing a bad idea because there is very little reason to believe that the state’s execution of the idea will be anything but atrocious.

A bill recently introduced to the West Virginia legislature calls for public schools (and private schools, too, I think, which I find odd) to offer Bible classes as a history elective for high schoolers. Many evangelicals are undoubtedly applauding the bill. As for me, I’m having a hard time seeing how it won’t be enacted poorly, if passed. In my latest for PJ Media, I provide some reasons why I’m opposed to West Virginia, or any state, for that matter, offering Bible classes in their public schools.

Side note: when I pitched the article linked to below, my editor disagreed with my opinion (she still may, she hasn’t mentioned if my arguments within the article have swayed her). I mention this to point out that PJ Media does not censor its columnists, nor does the site expect uniformity of thought/beliefs across its platform. I’m thankful for that, as should be the readers.

To read why I believe Bible classes in public schools is a bad idea, click the link below.

4 thoughts on “Bible Classes in West Virginia Public Schools: A Bad Idea

  1. I would enjoy reading a post from you about the upcoming Museum of the Bible opening this November in D.C. What are concerns you have about how that museum could be more harmful than helpful? For that matter what about the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter in Kentucky? Some Christians are big critics of those two venues. Perhaps you will want to visit those various places first. Do I feel a road trip coming on?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I mostly agree with you, John. But I will offer at least a mild disagreement. I became a follower of Jesus Christ at 36 years of age, when I was the Principal of a fairly large public high school. The scales came off my eyes, and I suddenly understood that a full education included the truth of Jesus Christ and the Bible. However, I discerned at that time that prayer and Bible in the public schools were not the “answer” to all of society’s problems. In fact, the train of prayer and Bible reading in public schools had left the station decades before. You can’t legislate a practice when the culture is generally unreceptive to the practice. Yes, prior to around 1950, prayer and Bible reading were common occurrences in the public schools. 2017? No more. As an English major and former English teacher, though, I can make a case for the Bible being taught in the public schools. Yes, the teacher is a critical choice, but a school administrator can avoid that controversy in large measure by hiring someone who will simply teach ABOUT the countless biblical allusions in both fiction and non-fiction. The most widely-read and referenced book MUST be a part of a student’s education.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t necessarily disagree with you. I could also make a case for the Bible being taught as literature instead of history. In fact, I wanted to make that case in the article, but it would have required at least two thousand or so more words to make that case cogently and coherently (my word limit for PJ is 1,200 and they don’t like it when I over 1,000). One of the best secular books that I’ve read on the topic of the Bible is literature is Northrop Frye’s ‘The Great Code: The Bible and Literature.” But, once again, I would want to see the curriculum standards before I signed off on it.

      There is also the component of how God has promised to use His Word. Even taught poorly, the Bible is still being taught and the Holy Spirit has promised to work.

      For me, the major concern with the WV bill is how uncritically we evangelicals pounce on anything that is deemed positive to our faith.


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