North Dakota wants to let its high schools teach a Bible studies class, and the ACLU (among others) has gotten its institutional panties in a twist over it. State Congressman Aaron McWilliams (R) has a bill moving through the State’s legislature that would achieve that. He said
The intention of this bill is to provide an option to schools to teach a class on the bible from a historical perspective. My position is that no religious text should be excluded from being taught as it relates to the historical or philosophical influences in our history or on our society today.
The class would be an elective amounting to 1/6 of the total social studies requirement for graduating from a North Dakota high school.
The ACLU thinks that teaching a religious document even from a historical or philosophical perspective, even when it’s not a required course, is somehow the State establishing or supporting a particular religion. That plainly isn’t the case; even the august personages of the ACLU know that—or American history wasn’t a safe space for them and they were triggered to unconsciousness by their grade school lessons and their junior high civics lessons.
Heather Smith, Executive Director of the North Dakota chapter of the ACLU does have a point, though. Sort of.
A school could teach comparative religious classes, or you could talk about the Bible’s relationship to literature, art, or music[.]
But not its relationship with our history or culture, or with western civilization’s history or culture generally? Not its relationship with our national philosophy, such as it is, or with philosophy generally? Apparently, Smith was triggered by her high school logic class, too.
On the other hand, the comparative religion concern has some validity. Perhaps McWilliams’ bill could include an option to teach an additional elective course, also worth 1/6 of the total social studies requirement, that teaches the Torah and the Talmud “from a historical perspective.” After all, we are a Judeo-Christian nation, with a staunch Judeo-Christian history and underpinning.
Such a broadened perspective on who we are, how we began, and how we came to be where we are now—including these incessant attacks on our Christianity and Judaism—would strengthen our American culture, and it might inform even the members of the ACLU.
Side tidbit: the first Georgian patriot to die in combat in our Revolutionary War was a Jew.