The new president of the National Association of Evangelicals has endorsed a hotly debated public school Bible textbook that was recently highlighted in Time magazine's cover story about why the Bible should be taught in public school.
Leith Anderson, president of the evangelical association claiming more than 30 million people, described The Bible and Its Influence a work of "excellent scholarship" that explains the "value and relevance of biblical literacy for today," according to the Bible Literacy Project, the textbook's publisher.
"In The Bible and Its Influence, the Bible Literacy Project has produced an outstanding textbook that will both encourage literacy and open students' minds to the significant role the Bible has played in shaping our modern civilization," wrote Anderson, in a released statement.
"It provides a broad-based curriculum that explores the history, culture and content of the entire Bible."
The text is to be used along side the Bible as a guide for students in public high schools to study the Bible as an elective in English or Social Studies. The Bible courses and the text are meant to educate students on the influence of the Bible and its content in history as an academic study rather than a promotion of religious belief.
Some secular challengers, however, have opposed the textbook arguing that it is biased and feels like it is "written as if I am a Protestant Christian teaching Protestant Christians," as described by Jennifer Kendrick, one of the first Bible-literacy teachers in the nation, in last week's Time article. Furthermore, opponents note that outside sources have to be brought in to balance its content.
Some Christians have also voiced disapproval of the text book, including radio talk show co-host Nancy Manno of the In Great Company, who said it "uses the Bible to advance a secular humanist agenda and a one world, pluralistic religion."
Manno also said in a statement that she discredits the book's author, Freedom Forum First Amendment Center Senior Scholar Charles Haynes, as an unreliable source for Christian input.
Despite such opposition, The Bible and Its Influence is in its first year and is being used in 83 school districts in 30 states. In total, Bible curricula are now being studied in 460 school districts in 37 states, according to Time magazine.
Others who support the text include Bishop Richard Sklba, chair of the Catholic Biblical Association and Marc Stearn, the general counsel of the American Jewish Congress.