My mother began her teaching career in the public schools in the early 1970s. Over the years, she has recounted the times when she was expected to read the Bible to students. She remembers lovingly sharing Bible stories and even praying with her elementary-aged students. However, as the years passed, those expectations changed, and by the time she retired a few years ago, she no longer read—and wonders if she would have been allowed to read—Bible stories to students.
There is no question that the role of the Bible and Christian faith in the public schools has changed dramatically over the last half century. Some of these changes have been for the better; others have been less positive. Still, it has left some wondering, “Is there a place for the Bible and Christian faith in American public schools today? And, if so, what is it?”
The attached paper seeks to find an appropriate role for teaching the Bible in today’s public school system, but not with the goal of proselytizing, converting, or condemning. Instead, it seeks to honor the Bible for its role in inspiring great minds and encourage students to find something powerful that motivates them to pursue truth, justice, and beauty in the world.
Andrea Hall, Greenville, PA
Andrea Hall is a recent graduate of the Doctor of Educational Ministry Program at Columbia Theological Seminary. The attached paper won the Abdullah Award for the best paper setting forth a plan for teaching the Bible in the public schools.