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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'Boys and girls, take out your Bibles'

That's how teachers in public schools nationwide could open their classes, following a new guide on teaching about the Bible in public schools. Published by the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., and the National Bible Association, New York, and endorsed by many religious, civil-liberties and education groups, the guide attempts to get people past the typical and divisive issues about how to study the Bible — or not — in American schools.

The goal is to help teachers offer academic instruction about the Bible in history and literature classes in an objective way, without proselytizing. Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center says, "It's too soon to say if the Bible wars in public schools are over, but this offers the best chance yet."

But Russell O. Siler, director of the ELCA Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, Washington, D.C., questions whether this truce will solve problems or create new ones. "The Bible is a phenomenally rich treasure," he says. "I'd hate to have it brought down to a level where we say, ‘Hey, anybody could teach this.’"


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