According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Teaching the Bible in Public Schools - A Post-Evangelical Perspective of the Pros and Cons

Teaching the bible can be a very enlightening endeavor but for many it ends up being a way to enforce old prejudices and errant ideologies. Certainly the theology waiting to be discovered can be affective on every level of human undertaking but it seems the more certain that without objective rigor the degree to which personal beliefs come to play upon its many subject matters can be quite the reverse of what the Creator God had intended..

I'm all for religious doctrine and tradition but both must be critiqued, if not in parts abandoned, for contemporary living, community, industry, and progress to grasp the import it reads and thinks it understands.

This past season of Christianized politics shows how deeply darkness pervades across broad stretches of the conservation "Christian" church. The acclaimed illumination of the bible seems to have adversely motivated Christianized perceptions of humanity towards its further bondage and inequity rather than its love, acceptance, respect, service, or liberty.

This is a deep shame which God's earnest emissaries now must bear by the falsehoods they preach to their eager congregation's awaiting hearts and ears. So often, to study the bible is to study ourselves, and that without naivety or ignorance which is normally placed upon its pages held too long in modernised romantic views teaching a Greek Hellenized and Medieval experience of a God and His Gospel that has grown up beyond our current conception of His contemporary salvific force, work, and purposes for this world we live in, and work, and serve.

Unless the God of the bible affect how we relate in our societies, communities, and fellowships with one another we study and preach all in vain. Does not the Apostle Paul say we preach in vain if we do not preach God's love? If we cannot take a bible story and understand why its there - nor its distorted meaning for that society of believers at that time in their lives - we fail to grasp its relevance. Too often those bible stories show us the paucity existing within religious communities in grasping the revelation it thinks it hears by then regulating horrific chains of inhumanity upon itself and those outside the "holy" endeavors of their enclaves.

It would be better if a man or woman learn to walk humbly with their God showing mercy to all than to pretend that enforcing rules and regulations is the way to divine enlightenment and godliness. Jesus condemned such a system - and all such systems purporting to teach the bible in this way are condemnable too.

Thus the problem of teaching the Bible without grasping its contents especially in the hands of religious enthusiasts refusing outside interference, education, or redaction. Shunning all but their own words as their only acceptable interpreters and advocates of a Scripture which eludes them. A pax then upon all such systems as unholy and unworthy of the great God we affirm when choosing such unenlightened and abominable conclusions to a God who sacrificed his life for us. Christianity, if anything, is a life of sacrifice, honor, respect, and love - this above all things! Amen and Amen.

R.E. Slater
May 27, 2017

* * * * * * * * *

(Wade Payne/For The Washington Post)

May 26 , 2017

A West Virginia public school district has decided to suspend weekly Bible classes for elementary and middle school students for the next academic year while it reviews the content of the lessons.

Mercer County has offered “Bible in the Schools” as an elective during the school day for decades, and the classes are widely popular. But the program has come under fire from opponents who say it violates the Constitution. The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in January with two parents of district students in calling for the program to be discontinued. The case is before Judge David A. Faber of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia.

The Mercer school board voted Tuesday to suspend the classes, enabling a thorough review with input from teachers, community members and religious leaders, Schools Superintendent Deborah S. Akers said in a statement. The district also announced a new Bible class for high school students. The class will use “The Bible and Its Influence,” a curriculum in hundreds of public high schools in 43 states. Its publisher bills the textbook as “the only First-Amendment-safe textbook that supports academic study of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.”

Hiram Sasser, an attorney with the First Liberty Institute, representing the school district, said the purpose of the review period is to ensure that all instruction complies with Education Department guidelines and with The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide, a 1999 report from the Bible Literacy Project that was endorsed by an array of religious leaders and legal experts.

“The school district is committed to following the law,” he said. “The goal is to offer an approved curriculum. We take our constitutional responsibility very seriously.”

Lynne White, a former Mercer school board member who had called for the end of Bible in the Schools, said she was happy with the decision.

“I think this is an important first step, and I hope the board will now work to publicly prioritize how our scarce resources are best used for all academic opportunities,” she said.

Although the Freedom From Religion Foundation said it was pleased that the Bible classes were halted, it said it will continue to pursue all legal options to have the classes permanently removed.

“The Supreme Court has spoken directly on this type of public school indoctrination and has ruled that public schools may not engage in it,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, the organization’s co-president, said in a statement. “Religion in schools builds walls between children and leads to ostracism of minorities — as experienced by our plaintiff Elizabeth Deal, who had to remove her child from the school.”

Deal, a parent who transferred her daughter to a neighboring district last year, said Friday she hopes the classes will be discontinued for good. “I don’t think there is a way to teach the class in a historical or literary manner to elementary age children,” she said. The teachers, she added, are “biased toward teaching the Bible and their denomination’s interpretation of it as fact, and I cannot see a solution to that issue.”

Some religious education experts think that Bible in the Schools will have a hard time surviving a court challenge. Charles C. Haynes, founding director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum in Washington, says that it is particularly difficult at the elementary level to have Bible classes that meet constitutional demands because students are too young to differentiate between historical fact and religious belief.

The lawsuit against the district will continue, said Patrick Elliott, a lawyer for the foundation. The next hearing is set for June 19.


Joe Heim joined The Post in 1999. He is currently a staff writer for the Metro section. He also writes Just Asking, a weekly Q&A column in the Sunday magazine. Follow @JoeHeim

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