BreakPoint: Why Johnny Can’t Read … the Bible

The “Teach the Bible in Schools” Campaign

We told you about having your kids take their Bibles to school. But what about teaching the Bible there?

Last month I told you about a growing movement in the U.S. called “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” organized by our friends at Focus on the Family. It’s part of a growing national movement to encourage our kids to bring their Bibles back to public schools, and perhaps 500,000 young people participated this year! But that’s not all we can do, not by a long shot, despite what you may think.

As you probably know, prominent atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair brought a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Murray v. Curlett, that ended devotional Bible-reading in public schools in 1963. Schools then threw the baby out with the bath water and stopped teaching the Bible academically, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. The results, speaking modestly, have been disastrous. In our schools, suicide, pregnancy rates, and violence have risen dramatically, while our scores in reading, writing, and math have plunged. Of course, while it’s not causation, the correlation is hard to miss.

Bible knowledge, a foundation of Western civilization, has also collapsed. According to Gallup, only a minority of American teens are “Bible literate.” It’s no wonder that over half of the graduating high school seniors in one poll thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife and that Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount! Truly, Johnny can’t read … the Bible!

It’s simply impossible for kids to be fully educated without basic knowledge of the world’s greatest book. Without the Bible, students can’t really understand fully the English language, English literature, history, art, music or culture—and the experts agree. In a poll of high school English teachers, 98 percent said that students who don’t know the Bible are disadvantaged when reading English literature.

Another survey of English professors from Harvard, Yale, and other prestigious institutions found that 38 of 39 agreed that “an educated person, regardless of his or her faith, needs to know the Bible.” Indeed, there are more than 1,200 documented references to the Bible just in the 36 plays of Shakespeare.

That’s why the global campaign “Teach The Bible In Schools” is so important. Started in the United States in 2005 through the Bible Literacy Project, the nonprofit Essentials in Education created a textbook and constitutionally safe instructional resources to help school districts implement a Bible course in the public and private schools that follows federal law.

In the U.S., the course can either be a language arts elective or a social studies elective for grades 9-12. The textbook is called “The Bible and Its Influence,” and it’s being used in 640 schools with 140,000 students in 44 states.

Nine states have passed laws that encouraging teaching of the Bible academically in the public schools. And the latest state is Kentucky. But that’s just the beginning.

“The ‘Teach The Bible In Schools’ goal is two-fold,” says my friend Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education. “We want to get the other 41 states to endorse Bible literacy as a supported academic course and to spread that legislative backing across the globe.”

This is indeed an international movement. Campaigns are underway in Australia, Great Britain, Finland, Brazil, India, and the Philippines. “The Bible and Its Influence” is already being used in Canada, Rwanda, Taiwan, South Korea, and even in China.

If your state does not yet support courses in biblical literacy, I strongly encourage you go to to see how you can be a part of this vital campaign. Or, of course, come to, and we’ll link you to it.

Folks, we’ve just marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which brought the Bible to the masses. And up ahead is National Bible Week. Now is the perfect time to make sure that Johnny can read, and understand, the Bible!

Why Johnny Can’t Read … the Bible: The “Teach the Bible in Schools” Campaign

Find out more about the campaign to get the Bible and its influence taught in the classroom. Go to



The Epidemic of Bible Illiteracy in Our Churches
  • Ed Stetzer | Christianity Today | July 6, 2015
The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem
  • Albert Mohler | | January 20, 2016
Bible Study in Public Schools Sought In New State Laws
  • Jackie Zubrzycki | Education Week | March 17, 2016
Kentucky allows public schools to teach Bible classes
  • Aida Chavez | | June 29, 2017

Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.

  • “The textbook is called “The Bible and Its Influence,” and it’s being used in 640 schools with 140,000 students in 44 states.”

    To me this is simply a manifestation of the problem. Why does anyone require a textbook to study the Bible? The Bible IS a “text” book! Is there something missing from its pages? Is the language not clear? The KJB is written in 6’th grade English. Ought we not rather extol and teach the words of the Bible itself, Gods words to man; the story of humanities utter failure and His ultimate grace, rather than what some man-written textbook (as if “textbooks” were more informative and learned than regular, what, “non-text” books???) says about the Bible and its historicity?

    The disaster our society has become is a direct result of men not understanding what God says to man today. Those words can be found in the King James Bible (not the modern perversions such as the NIV) and those are the words which need to be taught at home and in schools if schools are even necessary.

  • Just One Voice

    This is encouraging to hear of a movement to at least teach the Bible academically!

    I couldn’t help laughing at the statistic though. People think Sodom & Gomorrah were husband and wife?! Really?!! And Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount? Wow…truly laughing out loud over here. Sorry.

  • AlDog Miller

    A very commendable recommendation! During the 70’s and 80’s my father-in-law taught a course in our local public school called “The Bible as English Literature.” Sounds like the same concept as offered here. Having said that, however, what might be the consequences or, perhaps, the blowback from such a course? Will Muslims insist on teaching a course on the Koran or the Mormons on the Book of Mormon? As for being a literate person, won’t some of the criticism be that this is more “white supremacist” propaganda since the Bible is all about WESTERN civilization? Where this course has actually been implemented, what has been the broader community response? Or has this been done only in schools and communities that are generally homogenous- i.e.- largely Christian?

  • Phoenix1977

    The bible and it’s influence in a country like India, where the bible was a forbidden book in 80% of the country until the British took control of India. That should be an interesting discussion.