Bibles in Schools Bill Could Help Tony Blair Initiative
Two seemingly unrelated items in this week’s news make me wonder if they could be related. The Christian Post reported about a bill in Tennessee allowing non-denominational, elective courses on the Bible.
Democratic Sen. Roy Herron, the bill’s sponsor, argues that the bill is necessary to give greater biblical literacy and understanding of the crucial importance of the Bible to students. “I want students to study the greatest and most popular book in history,” Herron told CNN News. “I want young people to understand how the Bible has enormously impacted literature, art, music, culture, history and politics. A Bible course will help students understand our culture and our highest and best values,” he added.
Herron emphasized that the measure would not force schools throughout the state to offer Bible classes. Instead, the bill would protect schools that already offer Bible classes, while making the classes an option for schools that wish to participate.
Currently, 78 of Tennessee’s 95 counties feature elective courses on the Bible in their schools. Public school students in over 35 states currently have the option of enrolling in non-denominational biblical literacy classes, according to the Bible Literacy Project.
The second article from OneNewsNow.com reports former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has formed The Tony Blair Faith Foundation to “fight extremism, organize faith groups against poverty and illness, and educate people worldwide about religions other than their own.” Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and former President Bill Clinton are among the diverse religious representatives joining Blair in the initiative.
“Religion is as important in this century as political ideology was in the last,” Blair said. “There is a new reality. We have to come to terms with it. And it implies, at its fundamentals, peaceful coexistence or catastrophe,” said Blair in a speech before religious and business leaders at the posh Time Warner Center. “If faith becomes a countervailing force, pulling people apart, then it becomes destructive and indeed dangerous.”
Former President Bill Clinton, who became a close friend of Blair’s when both men were in office, opened the event, putting his arm around the former prime minister and calling his faith “genuine” and “deep.”
A Blair representative said the group has received donations and pledges in the tens of millions of dollars from individuals, charitable groups, companies and governments. The foundation plans to release exact dollar figures in its annual reports.
In a brief interview, Blair said he defined extremists as “people who want to exclude the other if someone is of a different faith.”
Blair said the foundation would not focus on “doctrinal inquiry” or “subsume different faiths in some universal faith of the lowest common denominator.”
I’m curious to know if those involved with Tony Blair’s Foundation would support Tennessee’s desire to educate students on the contents of the Bible. I’m also curious as to whether those who support the Tennessee bill would support an effort at peacefulness across religious beliefs.
Should we teach the Bible and the Koran side by side? Part of me says what’s the harm. Only the Bible has the power of the Holy Spirit to convict and change, right?
One other thing about Tony Blair’s goals. I admire the intent to bring about peace, and I agree we should do all we can to minimize the conflict. But we must remember, Jesus himself said he did not come to bring peace into this world (Luke 12:51).