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Going by the book with the Bible

August 10, 2007

Re "Bible finds a place in schools," Aug. 5

If the Bible is to be taught in schools, it should be presented as important literature, nothing more. Any references about its possible "sacred nature" belong completely to theology departments. Courses titled "The Bible as Literature" are, in fact, offered in some of our more enlightened institutions.

While we're at it, how about teaching -- as literature, of course -- the Koran, the Upanishads, the Torah and the teachings of Buddha to give our students a more complete grasp of this genre of literature?

Tom Pontac

Seal Beach

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I do such teaching, though at a higher educational level -- the public university. It's difficult to teach about the Bible without preaching, but it can be done if teachers insist on sticking to the facts -- what is in the Bible rather than interpreting and applying the Bible. For example, there is a snake in the second creation narrative; there is no mention of the devil. This does not require abandoning one's faith but simply recognizing that faith-based statements about the Bible have no place in the public classroom.

The Bible is too culturally important to ignore in public school, but it may take special instruction to prepare the teachers. University professors are an excellent resource for such instruction.

Kristin M. Swenson

Richmond, Va.

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If theist literature is to be studied in our public schools, then at least one atheist text must also be presented as a matter of constitutional fairness and balance.

I recommend "The System of Nature," published in 1770 by Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron D'Holbach. This volume was owned by Thomas Jefferson and is the founding document of modern atheism, or Western Enlightenment.

Lance Jencks

Costa Mesa

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