Amanda Marcotte offers a good article
about the various deceptive ways fundamentalist Christians assume what I call the "false underdog" position. I was with her until she reached this point:
The owner of Hobby Lobby has spent a fortune trying to get Bible study into public classrooms. He thinks by making it an “elective” course, that creates enough cover, but the Constitution is clear that the government cannot endorse any religion. Having a Bible study course is a clear endorsement of religion, something conservatives would immediately grasp if a school tried to start a Koran study course. But part of the religious right’s new definition of “religious freedom” is the belief that conservative Christianity is special and that its followers are entitled to foist their religion on people in ways no other religious believers get to do.
There's nothing offensive about the notion of an elective course in which students learn about the Bible and/or the Koran.
When I was in high school, I took an elective class in comparative religion. This course immersed students in the scriptures, art and practices of Jews, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists. I will always be grateful for that introduction to the Upanishads and various Mahayana texts. (The teacher, Mr. Friedman, ignored Islam. When asked why he did not include that religion, he would make a sound like a mistuned cello.)
The New Testament is an extremely important literary and historical artifact and deserves to be studied as such. I'd like to see our schoolchildren receive some hint of what actual scholars
say about that collection of documents. This background might help young people avoid certain pitfalls.
When the topic turns to the NT, dimwits of two major types tend to commandeer the debate:
1. The fundamentalist ninnies who insist that the NT is inerrant.
2. The smirky, ill-educated atheists who, with jackass self-assurance, love to tell you that "scholars" believe that Jesus was a mythical personage.
In fact, scholars believe no such thing.
(And no, this position does not
mean that academia accepts everything in the NT as true. Most scholars agree that Appolonius of Tyana was a real person, but I doubt that any university professor buys that yarn in which Appy fights a vampire.)
See my earlier post on the topic here
; you may also want to go here
and scroll down. Better still, read Bart Ehrman's book, Did Jesus Exist?
I have no problem with the idea of kids taking an elective course on the Bible -- as long as that course is objective and scholarly. The class I have in mind would probably make the owner of Hobby Lobby cringe.
A high school class on the Koran also strikes me as a fine idea. But if it were done right, it might make many followers of Islam feel uncomfortable and angry.