The following essay is
written for popular consumption, rather than in the form of a formal
scholarly review. Links to scholarly reviews are included.
Part 1: Introduction to
An Analysis of the Textbook
The Bible in History and
Literature is highly touted by the Religious Right, which claims
that as of 2005,
the curriculum is being taught in over 1000 public high schools in the
United States. The same link quotes Elizabeth Ridenour,
president of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public
Schools (the textbook's publisher), as boasting, "We have never in 10
years had one negative comment from any school board, any
superintendent, students, teachers, parents, et cetera," Ridenour
points out. "Just the opposite. They have been asking if we have even
a second year of this course already."
Ridenour's quote is quite
fascinating ... especially in light of the fact that the textbook is
riddled with inaccuracies and half-truths. The Bible itself, in the Ten
Commandments, declares that lying is a sin. However, the Religious
Right has a track record of repeatedly ignoring this Biblical
injunction, as is evidenced yet again in this their showcase
public school textbook.
Indeed, why do some
Christian leaders who publicly trumpet the Bible as inerrant truth, at
the same time publicly and proudly parrot lies and utilize deception,
or at the very least knowingly repeat historical myths, especially in
regards to the history of the United States of America? An analysis of the textbook will help to
answer this question.
The two main arguments of the
The Bible in History and Literature are: 1) The Bible is
literally true down to the smallest degree, and 2) America is a
Christian nation. The curriculum drives home these points
through the extensive use of erroneous facts and lengthy plagiarism.
Beginning with the second
theme first, the
National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is an
organization dedicated to advocating, in public schools, the message of
America as a Christian nation. As the website prominently
declares, "The Bible was the foundation and blueprint for our
Constitution, Declaration of Independence, our educational systems,
and our entire history until the last 20 to 30 years." Following
the statement are a few select quotes chosen to back up this
To the modern American
Christian, the above statement may sound quite good and reasonable, as
well as offer much comfort and reassurance in our contemporary
The problem, however, is
that the entire statement above is nothing more than a mixture of
and half-truths. In short, it is a myth, rather than the
truth ... a myth that some Christians desperately want to be true.
Some Christians will seemingly do whatever it takes to try and turn
lies into truth, as is the case with The Bible in History and
Click here for Part 2,
"The Truth About America's Religious Heritage"