The Kentucky Senate recently passed a bill allowing public schools to teach classes about the Bible. Of course, neither the Constitution nor Kentucky state law prohibited teaching about the Bible. Kentucky State Rep. Reggie Meeks dismissed the bill as a sop to conservative Christians, comparing it in an unlovely metaphor to “waving meat in front of a dog.”
Rep. Meeks may be right that the bill is a political stunt, but it does address a real concern. Conservative versions of Christianity seem to have been left behind in public school discussions on religion in recent years. The oversight begins with public schools teaching only evolution without mention of its alternatives. Students reading American history textbooks learn little about evangelical Christians other than unflattering references to their participation in the 1925 Scopes “monkey” trial.
Conservative Christians are not the only ones who suffer from the way Americans treat religion. The controversy over the Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero last year suggests the precarious position of many non-Christian religious minorities in American society. Intolerance of these minorities did not begin in public schools, but public schools have done precious little to combat it.