Should Jesus Be In Public School Textbooks

I have no memory of reading about Jesus in history books growing up. I cannot say with certainty that He was not present. However, if He was, it seems clear that coverage was so insignificant that it might as well have been entirely absent. Perhaps this is why so many grown adults walk around doubting that Jesus ever really lived (this was me not long ago). Why is He absent from these books? I can only assume that the absence of history’s most influential persona is due to a total misrepresentation of the concept of “separation of church and state.” (I give a brief explanation of the history of that particular abuse in Secular Humanism and the Tyrant Named Liberty). For now, suffice it to say that there is no such thing as an unbiased or neutral education system. Biases always exist. This makes the entire idea of neutral public education untenable (but we’ll save that discussion for another time). Nevertheless, while neutral is unattainable, there are varying degrees of bias. So, to the question at hand, “Should Jesus have a place in public school textbooks?” Was Jesus a real person? If so, was He important enough to be part of the curriculum? Even if the answer is yes to both, shouldn’t Jesus be kept out as a religious figure? Let’s consider:

  1. JESUS WAS A REAL PERSON: Contrary to some unfortunately irrational rumors, Jesus was a real person. Even from a skeptics perspective, He was probably quite similar to the Jesus of the Bible (I cover this in Was Jesus a Real Person (Historically)? Of course, those who are not skeptics believe Jesus was precisely like the Jesus of the Bible (After much study, this is the camp within which I fall). Yet, Jesus is virtually absent from our children’s textbooks.
  2. JESUS IS ALMOST UNQUESTIONABLY THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSON IN HISTORY:  Jesus was a nobody by all earthly accounts. He was born poor, as part of what would be considered a relatively insignificant demographic. He never gained military or political power. He never accumulated wealth or prestige. He didn’t even minister outside of the small Jewish population of His local geographic region. Despite His humble beginnings, you cannot move without coming in contact with something impacted by His name, His ideas, and His followers.  The Bible, a book written about Him, is the best selling book of all time. Streets, cities, states, nations, and corporations are named after Him and His followers. His followers have more prestige than the greatest rulers of His time. Much of the world’s greatest art is about Him and much of the art that is not about Jesus is dedicated to Him.  His impact is quite literally immeasurable. From a secular perspective, He is an anomaly. Yet, Jesus is virtually absent from our children’s textbooks.
  3. THE FIRST AMENDMENT IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK: The term “separation of church and state” does not exist in any of the USA’s founding documents. It comes from a letter written to Baptists from Thomas Jefferson. Not only this, but the context with which it was used is quite contrary to modern representations of it. Jefferson was promising this particular group of Christians that the government wouldn’t interfere with their religious worship or lifestyles. Yet today, separation of church and state has come to mean whitewashing all public spheres of anything religious. To many it means wiping out any trace of religion. Sadly, this misrepresentation, means wiping out history. Jesus in textbooks is but one of the many casualties of the expunging of religion from the public sector.

So should Jesus be in public school textbooks? Unquestionably. Records tell us that He lived. Even a modern world hellbent on expunging Him from the annals of history cannot erase the unrelenting impact He has had to date. And the idea that religious figures should not be in public education is absurd. (To be clear, several other religious leaders should be taught as well). Jesus, however, deserves a center seat. You cannot rightly understand the history of the world without understanding the man named Jesus. 


WHAT DO YOU THINK? Was Jesus a real man? Leave a comment below and share to get your friends in on the conversation.

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