The article linked above is a very interesting discussion about the topic of Bibles in the schools. It features Benjamin Rush, who was a post-Revolutionary activist for religious instruction in the country’s schools!
“In 1791, Rush wrote a letter on education to Jeremiah Belknap which was republished by the American Tract Society in 1830. In the letter, Rush Benjamin Rush defended the use of the Bible in schools. However, Rush’s defense should raise a question. If the Bible was in such wide use, then why would Rush need to argue for its inclusion? In fact, Rush said in his letter that the Bible in schools was out of fashion, so to speak.”
“To the arguments I have mentioned in favour of the use of the bible as a school book, I shall add a few reflexions. The present fashionable practice of rejecting the bible from our schools, I suspect has originated with the deists…”
“They discover great ingenuity in this new mode of attacking Christianity. If they proceed in it, they will do more in half a century, in extirpating our religion, than Bolingbroke or Voltaire could have effected in a thousand years. I am not writing to this class of people. I despair of changing the opinions of any of them…”
“I wish only to alter the opinions and conduct of those lukewarm, or superstitious Christians, who have been misted by the deists upon this subject. On the ground of the good old custom, of using the bible as a school book, it becomes us to entrench our religion…”
“It is the last bulwark the deists have left it ; for they have rendered instruction in the principles of Christianity by the pulpit and the press, so unfashionable, that little good for many years seems to have been done by either of them. (emphasis added).”
What a state of affairs! Even the pulpits have become wary of teaching from the Bible?! Surely Benjamin exaggerates!
The article continues:
“One Founder Doesn’t Mean All Founders - [one] problem is that Barton generalizes from Rush to All founders. This, of course, is not appropriate method[ology]. At least one other founder spoke against using the Bible with young children — Thomas Jefferson. On that subject in his Notes on the State of Virginia. . .”
“Instead therefore of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children, at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious enquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European and American history.”
The Far Right loves to quote Jefferson on his views regarding taxation . . . but I must remember to quote Jefferson’s views on teaching religion in the schools. Maybe the Far Right would be willing to compromise…