May religious scriptures be used in a public school classroom?

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Study of history or literature would be incomplete without exposure to the scriptures of the world's major religious traditions. Some knowledge of biblical literature, for example, is necessary to comprehend much in the history, law, art and literature of Western civilization, just as exposure to the Quran is important for understanding Islamic civilization. In this sense, the classical religious texts are part of our study of history and culture.

At the same time, students need to recognize that, while scriptures tell us much about the history and cultures of humankind, they are considered sacred accounts by adherents to their respective traditions. Religious documents give students of history the opportunity to examine directly how religious traditions understand divine revelation and human values.

In a history class, selections from these accounts should always be treated with respect and used only in the appropriate historical and cultural context. Alert students to the fact that there are a variety of interpretations of scripture within each religious tradition.