Jack Summers and Forced Bible Study in School

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Simulposted from the NEW Wild Wild Left!

Picture my surprise when I opened an email from Care to Causes labeled “Student Refuses to Study Bible as Literature” only to find the actual article titled, “Willful Ignorance: Should Students Be Able to Choose What Not to Study?

(Care to Causes does decent environmental work and women’s causes, but is far from one of the best sources out there…)

I took the bait, and clicked through to the essay, only to have my pre-coffee neurons scream in revolt. The author has it wrong on so many levels that I had to respond. I chose the most obvious two, and stated my objections, only to find if I did not allow C2C full access to post to my facebook at will, I could not post on their site. Strike two, baby.

Newton South High School has a reading requirement for standard sophomore English to read passages from the Bible as an example of comparative literature in class. Jack objected. Those are the facts. John Hilliard of Newton’s newspaper mangled the facts so badly in his report, that Jack’s mother felt compelled to write a Letter to the Editor to refute the misstating of facts: from Jack’s age,(16 not 15) and the type of class,(the reporter claimed it an elective honors class, which it is not) to the slant that he was a slacker trying to get out of work. (Jack turned in an alternative project of his own volition)

Maybe its just me, but if you have perused the links, by now aren’t you wondering how so many could miss the forest for the trees?

WHY was this piece of text chosen in the first place?  

“The Bible” is not a work, it is a collection of works. It is a collection of works in which every author attributed is in question no less, admittedly by the very theologians who teach it.

As such, it could be an appropriate work at collegiate level. It has poetry, prose, parable, metaphor, letter writing, all tempered by the many translations it has been through. It could be a single-source for the comparison of many literary styles, but is far too complex to compare at High School level as an example against “Catcher in the Rye.”

It does not hold up as an age or scholastic level appropriate piece of Literature to be studied. Mind you, this is not a History Class, nor is it a Comparative Religions class.

So. Why is it offered, even as such?

In this Political Climate, why slip the teachings of Matthew in as “Literature,” non-fiction no less, and make young people endure proselytizing?

His mother states:

Maybe trying to abstain from reading the Bible was the most appropriate (and non disruptive) way for a student to cope with listening to his class discuss the Gospel of Matthew, which includes detailed instructions on the “right” way to pray to God, and sitting through class time spent creating a detailed timeline of the life of Jesus. The Jesus that the same Bible states Jack must accept as his personal savior – unless he wants to spend all eternity in Hell. This is the stuff of nightmares, even if you are an adolescent who questions whether there even is a God.

The paper quoted a College Professor who opined that the Bible was important in shaping World Events, historically. Undoubtedly so. One can be aware that the Torah, the Quran and the Bible had influence without studying their every tenet.

I have no problem whatsoever with a World Religion Class being offered as an elective for students who choose to take it, as long as it is presented in a non-partial way. I took one both in High School and in College, because it was of interest to me. MY CHOICE.

So, back to the forest. Why was this tree stump offered?

It is no secret that there is a concerted effort to push Biblical teaching into our Public School system. One only has to look at the long list of lawsuits, attempting to put “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design” under the realm of Science.

To inject a contested text, a multi-authored text, a text unable to be proven as non-fiction into a Mandatory Sophomore English class only serves one purpose: To open a discussion about Christianity in Public Schools, with no regards for the privacy, 1st Amendment Rights or personal beliefs of the Students forced to take it.

This is assuredly NOT willful ignorance on the part of Jack Summers. No more is it willful ignorance than the other students who were not forced to study the Quran. Willful ignorance exists only on the part of the administration who chose this work, out of historical context, with no comparative other works and what appears to be an agenda to get their “Word of God” into our High Schools.

(An aside: Peaco T, the C2C author must not have children, or be willfully ignorant of their ability to be pointedly sarcastic when faced with ironic situations. She states Jack must not be a good atheist, or at least a confused one, due to his using just that term, “Word of God.” I’m sure Jack has by now developed a sense of IRONY. My 10 year old has a sense of IRONY. Had she not cherry picked 3 words out of his statement, she would have certainly seen that he was NOT attributing the Bible as such. I quote:

“This is the word of God. People take this literally … I don’t want to read about what they believe to be true,” said Summers, who described himself as an atheist.

Sorry, Peaco, you just lost a subscriber to Care to Causes with your biased ignorance.)

What it is, is inappropriate material, unsuitable academically for that level, and against the Separation of Church and State.

The “why” has no redeeming rationale. Hence, the material needs to be dropped.

Jack seems like a young man I would be proud to know.

Newton South? Somewhere I am equally proud I will never choose to live.


Skip to comment form

    • Diane G on December 20, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Hell, yeah.

    Right on, Jack. Good for you.

  1. This bad Religious Reich craziness is happening in NEW ENGLAND?

    I would have expected something like this in the sticks of the deep south or the midwest, but NEW ENGLAND?

    Massachusetts, in the shadows of Harvard and Yale and MIT?

    Sweet Goddess.

    • Diane G on December 21, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    We have to be ever watchful of the theocratic soldiers creeping in on us!

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