May students study the Bible in a public school class?
Yes. Under a curriculum provided by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, the Bible may be taught as a literary or historical work, with students left to develop their own opinions. The curriculum has been implemented in 28 states since the Council’s formation in 1993.
Although a 1963 court case set guidelines for the Bible to be taught as literature or history, use of the Bible as devotional material was struck down as a violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition against the government favoring one religion over another. As a result, schools across the nation eliminated classes in religion in the 1960s and 1970s. Many school officials remain concerned about violating the First Amendment’s establishment clause.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp 374 U.S. 203 is available on the Internet at http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/cases/topic.htm, under the topic First Amendment. The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools hosts a Web site at http://www.bibleinschools.org.