NEW YORK, Aug. 27, 2013 – The place of the Bible in public schools has been debated since the 1963 Supreme Court ruling in the consolidated cases of Abington School District v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett. The debate continued earlier this year with the Texas Freedom Network findings, “Reading, Writing and Religion II.”
But as kids head back to the hallways this week, what do Americans really believe about the role of the Bible—and its values—in public schools?
A recent study found Americans overwhelmingly (77%) believe morals and values are declining in the U.S., and 75% believe a valid reason to teach the Bible in public schools is because it would provide kids with the moral principles that are badly needed. Currently, only Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas allow elective Bible courses in public high schools. Arkansas, Wyoming and North Carolina may soon follow suit.
American Bible Society details the findings in its annual State of the Bible survey, which also reports Americans’ beliefs about the Bible, its role in society, its presence in U.S. homes and more. The State of the Bible 2013 survey, conducted by Barna Group on behalf of American Bible Society, found that:
- 66% of adults think it is important for public schools to teach the values of the Bible
- Still, 75% think teaching about the Bible in public schools could be valid because it teaches moral principles badly needed today
- 45% think a valid objection to teaching the Bible is because it would favor one religion over another
- 32% fear it might offend people
- 11% think it would take time away from learning other subjects
- 9% believe there is no valid reason to teach the Bible in schools
- Full Findings at TheStateoftheBible.com
American Bible Society President Doug Birdsall says it may not be wise to shelter children and young adults from the best-selling book in history.
“While our intention may be to protect students from the influence of ‘other people’s’ religion, the effect has been that we are raising a generation ignorant about the most influential book of all time,” said Birdsall.
The producer of the miniseries The Bible, which beat out The Walking Dead in viewership its first week, agrees.
“I really, really believe the Bible should be taught in public schools,” said reality show mega-producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice) on The O’Reilly Factor (Feb. 27, 2013). “It is embarrassing for young Americans to go overseas in their mid-twenties after college and do business in Rio de Janeiro or Berlin or Paris and not know who David and Goliath are.”
About American Bible Society:
Headquartered in Manhattan, the 197-year-old American Bible Society exists to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message. One of the nation¹s oldest nonprofit organizations, today’s American Bible Society provides resources across a variety of platforms enabling first-time readers and seasoned theologians alike to engage with the best-selling book of all time. For more information, visit AmericanBible.org.
The State of the Bible 2013 report contains the findings from a nationwide study commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Research (a division of the Barna Group). Two research methodologies were used for the study; one included 1,005 telephone interviews with adults in the continental U.S. while the second study consisted of 1,078 online surveys using a nationally representative panel. The use of two methodologies provided a larger sample size for key questions and ensured even greater representation among all age groups. The telephone interviews were conducted Jan. 16 – 22, 2013, and included U.S. adults 18 years of age or older. The online surveys were conducted between Jan. 17 – 23, 2013. For full survey information, please contact Katie Rouse at 770.813.0000.