Public school students are expected to learn about Jesus and Christianity in the classroom

(Photo: Geri-Jean Blanchard)

With so much attention given to the separation of church and state, many people may be surprised to learn how much of Christianity is supposed to be in school currricula.

Gateways to Better Education, a non-profit organization, recently published a 230-page online report tiltled "The Bible in State Academic Standards." The report details, state-by-state, the biblical and historical knowledge that students are expected to learn in public schools.

"There is a common misconception among many educators that teaching about the Bible and Christianity is not allowed in public school classrooms because of concerns over the establishment of religion," president of Gateways to Better Education President Eric Buehrer said in a press release.

"The fact is public school students are expected to learn these things."

According to the Bible in State Academic Standards, California sixth-graders should be able to "note the origins of Christianity in the Jewish Messianic prophecies, the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as described in the New Testament, and the contribution of St. Paul the Apostle to the definition and spread of Christian beliefs (e.g., belief in the Trinity, resurrection, salvation)."

The report cites California Standard 6.7.6, "adopted in 1998 and reaffirmed in 2005."

In Massachusetts, 7th graders should be able to "describe the origins of Christianity and its central features, including: Monotheism, the belief in Jesus as the Messiah and God's son, who redeemed humans from sin, the concept of salvation, belief in the Old and New Testament, the lives and teachings of Jesus and St. Paul," and other spiritual criteria.

The report contains many other examples of academic standards that reference the Ten Commandments, the history of Christianity, religion in holidays, and other spiritual knowledge that is usually not taught in classrooms.

Gateways to Better Education has made the report's 12-page introduction available for free download on their website, www.gtbe.org/report.

According to their statement, the organization's mission is to "help public schools become places where students feel the freedom to express their faith and where they gain an academic appreciation for the Bible and Christianity across the whole curriculum as it relates to history, culture, and values."

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