- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Today is the Fourth of July — and happy birthday, America: How about a little Bible with those celebrations.

After all, America’s DNA is firmly rooted in the book of Judeo-Christian teachings, in the tenets of the Ten Commandments, in the principles taught by — gasp — even Jesus Christ himself. Once upon a time, that realization was not only widely shared but also widely spread, from church pulpit to political office to public school.

No time like the Fourth to reflect, remember — and return.

Here’s the truth: Founding Fathers may have held different views about Jesus, the cross and salvation. But on the ability of the Bible to provide guidance and instruction, of moral, practical and political kinds, they were kindred spirits. As Daniel Dreisbach, a professor at American University and the author of “Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers” wrote in a guest post for The Gospel Coalition, framers “saw in Scripture political and legal models — such as republicanism, separation of powers and due process of law.”

In other words: Today’s atheists, secularists, humanists, satanists, socialists and general Big Government types lie when they say America’s government was founded on a total separation of church and state philosophy. While it’s true that framers didn’t want the government to establish a religion for all to follow — in the way of today’s Muslim nations enforcing Islamic and Shariah law, for example — it’s completely untrue that these same framers wanted all evidence of God, the Bible and religion swept from the public sector.



Simply put, they considered the Bible a valuable teaching tool.

It still is.

And it’s in that vein that today’s William Jeynes, a professor at California State University in Long Beach who teaches the history of education, and who received his education at Harvard and the University of Chicago, is campaigning for public schools around the nation to offer literary-based Bible courses for students.

In a telephone conversation, Jeynes described how even as a youth, while an atheist, he gleaned great insights from the Bible in terms of understanding Shakespeare, literary references, Western history and so forth. That’s what made it so difficult, he said, when years later, after he had come to the faith, he saw the bucking of schools against any teachings of biblical histories, against any shows of Judeo-Christian symbols, against any moments of prayer before morning classes.

“If you’re going to be considered an intelligent human being, you have to know the Bible,” Jeynes said, recounting what his mother — an unbeliever — told him. “It’s just the most influential book in human history.”

Exactly. Why fear?

It’s not as if a simple reading of the Bible is tantamount to conversion. It’s history. It’s literature. It’s the basis of America’s founding — which is why it belongs, more so than the Koran or any other book of religious-tied teaching, in a class of its own, in the public schools.

“We already have comparative religion histories taught in schools,” as Jeynes noted.”The reality is the Bible influenced American history far more than the Koran has.”

Jeynes, working outside any formal organization, going from state to state and county to county and jurisdiction to jurisdiction largely by himself, has spent the better part of this century collecting meta-analysis on studies regarding Bible teaching and reporting those findings to school officials, politicians and interested parties, including hardcore secularists. And among his findings?

Students who’ve scored high in Bible literary earn on average GPAs that are one full grade point higher than those who are low in Bible literacy.

There’s an eye-opener.

Even for the atheists in the room.

So far, 12 states have given the legislative OK to Bible-based literature courses in the public schools, based on the pressings and campaigning of Jeynes and those who’ve come to support his work. Jurisdictions in 45 states, meanwhile, have also signed on. And he credits his successes, at least in part, to his insistence on sticking to a couple of key principles.

First, Jeynes restricts his arguments to bring Bible classes back to public schools to the literary benefits. He steadfastly shies from making any case for moral teachings.

And second: He walks that walk himself. He purposely reaches to the secular audience.

His recent book, “A Call to Character, Education and Prayer in the Schools,” is so focused on data and scholarly research and so devoid of moral-based preachings that he said Harvard is his number one buyer, followed by Princeton, Stanford and, believe it or not, the University of California at Berkeley. Not bad for a card-carrying Christian who believes, in his heart, that “the most significant event in my lifetime” was the removal of God from the classroom, he said.

“It’s led to the lack of civility, I believe in the rise of school shootings, people everywhere are so angry at one another,” Jeynes said.

He’s not wrong. Not on any of it.

Founders themselves, schooled as they were in Bible principles, would’ve agreed. Indeed.

There’s nothing like the occasion of a national birthday to remember what made America great in the first place, to reflect on where we’ve gone wrong — and to recognize and applaud the discernment and efforts of those, like Jeynes, who see the root of what ails and commit to offering a fix.

An individual fix. Not a Big Government quagmire.

There’s just something so very American about it all.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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