No More Bibles for the Children

Is it possible that leaders in two North Carolina school districts – in attempting to quash a potential legal battle – have inadvertently removed from their schools a resource that the nation's founders argued was necessary for a proper education?

No more Bibles for the children." In an effort to appease the American Civil Liberties Union, that's what school officials in two counties in North Carolina (Cumberland and Harnett) essentially said to Gideons International recently. (See related article) Before someone complained and the ACLU threatened legal action, the Gideons would simply place the Bibles on a table for students who may choose to pick one up. But not anymore!

Of course, the ACLU is claiming elementary students might interpret the availability of the Bibles by an outside group as an endorsement of religion, which in their estimation would be a violation of the separation of church and state.

America's Founders certainly wouldn't have agreed with that assessment.

Fisher Ames was a congressman from Massachusetts in the First Session of the Congress of the United States when the Bill of Rights was formulated. It was Fisher Ames who suggested the wording of the First Amendment, which was adopted by the House. Ames argued that the Bible "should be the principal text in our schools." [1]

James McHenry was one of the signers of the Constitution of the United States and a member of the Continental Congress. Fort McHenry, where in 1812 the battle with Britain occasioned the writing of our national anthem, was named for him. In 1813, McHenry became the president of the first Bible society in Baltimore. He believed the distribution of Bibles was necessary to the preservation of our country. He wrote:

"Neither, in considering this subject, let it be overlooked, that public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Scriptures.
The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness.

In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.

Consider also, the rich do not possess aught more precious than their Bible, and that the poor cannot be presented by the rich with anything of greater value. Withhold it not from the poor. It is a book of councils and directions, fitted to every situation in which man can be placed ...." [2]

In other words, McHenry believed that the "general distribution of the Scriptures" by organizations like Gideons International was necessary to maintaining peace, effecting justice, aiding the poor, and securing our "constitutions of government."

One should therefore ask: How then can future generations maintain such liberties, if the Bible is not made available and even taught to them while they are children?

Moreover, school officials should not be so quick to acquiesce to the bullying of the ACLU, but stand up for education. The late Dr. D. James Kennedy, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, used to say that ACLU ought to really stand for "Anti-Christian Litigation Union." The ACLU's agenda seemingly is to oust all things Christian from the public square. Nevertheless, education – public or private, religious or sacred – owes its very existence to Christianity.

In his book, How Christianity Changed the World, Alvin J. Schmidt, a retired professor of sociology at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, rightly contends:

"Catechetical schools, cathedral schools, episcopal schools, monasteries, medieval universities, schools for the blind and deaf, Sunday schools, modern grade schools, secondary schools, modern colleges, universities, and universal education all have one thing in common: they are the products of Christianity .... Individuals in Western societies spend many years in schools, colleges, or universities, but they have learned very little about the contributions Christianity has made to education, so highly treasured today. In the absence of this knowledge, it is not only Christianity that has been slighted, but Jesus Christ as well. Were it not for him and his teachings, who knows at what stage of development education would be today." [3]
Jesus also gave some meaningful instruction about children. He conveyed that there are infinite possibilities for good or evil in a child. Therefore, it is the supreme responsibility of parents, teachers, and the Church to see that a child's dynamic possibilities for good are realized. To stifle those possibilities, or to leave them untapped, or to twist them into evil powers, is worthy of one of Christ's most dire warnings:

"Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble." (Luke 17:1-2)
Hmmmm ... no more Bibles for the children. Yes, that sounds like the very kind of stumbling block to which Jesus was referring.


[1] September 20, 1789, in an article published in the Palladium magazine. D. James Kennedy, "The Great Deception" (Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Coral Ridge Ministries, 1989, 1993), p.3

[2] Bernard Steiner, One Hundred and Ten Years of Bible Society in Maryland (Maryland Bible Scoiety, 1921), p.14; Tim LaHaye, Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Brentwood, TN; Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc. 1987), pp.171-172; Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Glory of America (Bloomington, MN: Garborg's Heart 'N Home, 1991) 8.17

[3] Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World (Zondervan Pubishing, Grand Rapids Michigan, 2004) p. 191

Rev. Mark H. Creech is the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.

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