Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, Hollywood’s elite and producers of “The Bible”, published an article titled “Why Public Schools Should Teach the Bible” earlier this month, arguing that not studying the Bible is like students not learning the Constitution in the U.S. history class. The article had 777 comments the Monday after the initial premier on History Channel.
“The foundations of knowledge of the ancient world – which informs the understanding of the modern world- are biblical in origin,” wrote reality TV producer Burnett (of “Survivor” fame) and actress wife Roma Downey.
The Bible should be taught regularly in schools as the text’s influence spans centuries in the fields of art, literature, philosophy, government, philanthropy, education, social justice and humanitarianism, wrote the couple. They said many common English languages are derived from the Scripture, for example: “the extra mile,” “the handwriting was on the wall,” “the straight and narrow,” and “stumbling block.”
While the Bible’s influence and educational value is clear, the couple said the reality isn’t reflected in public schools. “It’s time to change that for the nation’s children. It’s time to encourage perhaps mandate the teachings of the Bible in public schools as a primary document on Western civilization.”
They wrote, “In movies, without biblical allegories, there would be no ‘Les Miserables,’ not ‘Star Wars,’ no ‘Matrix,’ no ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, no ‘Narnia’ and no ‘Ben-Hur.’ There would be no Alchoholics Anonymous, Salvation Army or Harvard University – all of which found their roots in Scripture. And really, what would Bono sing about if there were no Bible?”
Addressing those who view teaching religion in school as violating “separation of church and state” or the First Amendment, the Burnett couple referenced the ruling in 1963 (Abington School District v. Schempp), which said that “the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities” and “when presented objectively as a part of a secular (public school) program of education, may not effected consistently with the First Amendment.”
While Downey and Burnett, who were raised in Europe – Downey is Ireland and Burnett in England – are both Christians, they said, “There are many ardent atheists who appreciate the Bible’s education heft while rejecting its spiritual claims. It is possible to have education without indoctrination. On this point, believers and nonbelievers should be able to ‘see eye to eye.’”
At the end of the article, they quoted the common desktop reference guide “The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy”, in which the first page declares: “No one in the English speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible.”