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Why the Bible Literacy Project is Widely Acclaimed -- Setting the Facts Straight

Contact: Sheila Weber, VP Communications, Bible Literacy Project, 646-322-6853, sheila@bibleliteracy.org


MEDIA ADVISORY, Jan. 18 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Bible Literacy Project's textbook, The Bible and Its Influence, has been widely acclaimed by a wide range of national leaders, scholars and the media for its breadth, accuracy and beauty. In just its first year, more than 85 school districts in 29 states have introduced courses about the Bible using this textbook, and more than 1000 educators are now reviewing The Bible and Its Influence for use next fall.


"This text provides an extraordinarily helpful background—the Bible's impact on literature, the arts, and life. If anyone is looking for a comprehensive academic understanding of the roots of modern civilization, this book is an indispensable resource," says Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries.


The textbook is endorsed by Colson, Joe Stowell, Vonette Bright, and Finn Laursen, President of Christian Educators Association International (CEAI), whose magazine Teachers of Vision just ran three beautiful features on The Bible and Its Influence, its Teacher's Edition and online teacher training. The textbook is also endorsed by the general counsel of the American Jewish Congress, the chairman of the Catholic Biblical Association, among many others.  "Building consensus is essential to reassuring public educators that a Bible course is good for all students," said BLP Vice President of Communications Sheila Weber.


Charles Haynes is not an official spokesperson, staff member, director or advisory board member of the Bible Literacy Project.  Haynes speaks on behalf of his organization, The First Amendment Center.   Haynes is only one of 40 reviewers of The Bible and Its Influence, which included scholars from Evangelical, mainline Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish faiths to ensure the textbook would be allowable for public school use and accurately represent the views of major faith groups that hold the Bible as a sacred text.  Other reviewers included leading evangelical scholars Dr. Leland Ryken of Wheaton College (IL), Dr. Tremper Longman of Westmont College, Dr. Paul Borgman of Gordon College, and Dr. Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Seminary (PCA).


The Bible Literacy Project has built a broad-based coalition of support to increase the percentage of public high schools offering an elective course on the Bible from 8 percent to 80 percent. In 1999, BLP created a set of guidelines on how the Bible can be taught lawfully in public schools. Twenty-one major national groups, including the Christian Legal Society, the National Association of Evangelicals, Christian Educators Association International, and the National School Boards Association, endorsed The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide, which was co-published by the Bible Literacy Project and the First Amendment Center.


In response to a recent criticism from Wiley Drake (speaking as a private individual and not on behalf of any organization), the Bible Literacy Project (www.bibleliteracy.org) notes that editorial changes in its textbook's forthcoming second printing remove the content which Drake has criticized.


"If Wiley Drake had first called to check with the Bible Literacy Project, he would have learned that content changes that address his concerns have already been made  in the recent release (late August 2006) of the textbook's Teacher's Edition and the forthcoming second printing of the student version, The Bible and Its Influence," said Weber.  "When the Bible Literacy Project first released the student textbook in the fall of 2005, we stated that it is standard practice for textbooks to be updated; and that we would be responsive to feedback from schools and faith groups. We have already demonstrated our commitment to excellence by having 40 scholars review the original text, including  eminent professors such as Dr. Leland Ryken of Wheaton College, Dr. Tremper Longman of Westmont, Dr. Paul Borgman of Gordon College, and Dr. Peter Lillback of Westminster Seminary," said Weber.


Changes in the forthcoming edition include the following, along with many others beyond these examples:


  • Language for the Mayflower Compact now includes a fully quoted passage from the original document.
  • A rhetorical question about "whether Adam and Eve received a fair deal" has been removed, even though critics of this question always failed to note that the textbook directed students to find their answer from the text of Genesis 3. 
  • A philosophical question asking why God allows evil things to happen has been removed. 


The Bible Literacy Project believes that the loss of Bible knowledge amidst our culture is not to be taken lightly. "While it is the job of the church and the home to teach the faith perspective, public education does students a disservice if it fails to teach the content of the most important written document of Western Civilization," said BLP Chairman Chuck Stetson.


"Our national research studies show that 100 percent of top university professors and 98 percent of high school English teachers agree that students need to know the Bible in order to be well-educated. The textbook explains the importance of the Bible in American history, literature, and culture, while the words of the Bible speak for themselves," Stetson explained.


"Despite the importance of knowing the Bible and the fact that it is legal to offer an academic course on the Bible in public school, educators remain fearful. That is why we created our new student textbook—always used alongside the student's own Bible—to resolve those fears. Our goal is to increase dramatically the low 8% of public high schools which now offer a Bible elective course," Stetson said.