Teach Tolerance: It’s the Biblical Thing to Do

The Texas Board of Education, the nation’s second largest purchaser of public school textbooks, is revising its K-12 social studies … Continued

The Texas Board of Education, the nation’s second largest purchaser of public school textbooks, is revising its K-12 social studies curriculum and deciding how to characterize religion’s influence on American history. Three consultants have recommended emphasizing the roles of the Bible, Christianity and civic virtue of religion. As America’s children go back to school, how would you advise the Texas board? How should religion be taught in public schools?

The best advice for the Texas Board of Education’s revision of its social studies curriculum comes from the Apostle Paul, who writes to the Galatians that you will know the true spirit of religious faith by its fruits, and these are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness…” (Gal 5:22)

In other words, construct your social studies curriculum to teach about those who have tried to help their society and their fellow citizens through expanding civic and religious tolerance. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness–these are the characteristics of tolerance. No question about it. Teach tolerance and you will capture the spirit of religion that motivates us to try to build a better society.

The Texas Board of Education does not even have to go out and find someone write this new curriculum for them. Facing History and Ourselves has already done this; so has the Southern Poverty Law Center. There are tons of excellent materials already online to get this new curricular revision in Texas done in an excellent way.

On their Web site, Facing History describes the basis of their work as “the premise that we need to — and can– teach civic responsibility, tolerance, and social action to young people, as a way of fostering moral adulthood.”

Foster moral adulthood. Now there’s a curriculum revision we can all get behind. Check out the 6th Grade Social Studies “Identity and Community” curriculum from the Facing History Web site.The study plan, done for schools in Memphis, starts with where every budding adolescent starts, with the question “Who am I?” They then go on to show how individual and community identity are related, and delve into the specific history of the Memphis community. “In-group and out-group” dynamics are well known to 6th graders; but the same “insider/outsider” dynamic in terms of race has had a big impact on the history of Memphis. How do some people find the strength and wisdom to cross these barriers and create moral community? That’s the goal of this lesson plan and it is a good one.

Teaching Tolerance is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center, founded in 1971, was originally a small, civil rights law firm. Today, SPLC is internationally known for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups.

The Teaching Tolerance teaching kits and handbooks are FREE to teachers. There is an entire K-12 curriculum, and fortunately, social studies is one of the subjects. Think of the savings for the Texas Board of Education. They could just get the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance curriculum and pop it right into the textbooks.

From activities to deal with anti-Muslim prejudice in schools to the role of religious conscience in the Civil Rights movement, the Teaching Tolerance curriculum has much to offer in terms of how civics education for a religiously pluralistic nation should and can be done.

This is my advice to the Texas Board of Education: teach tolerance. You could do a lot worse.

  • TXatheist

    You mean it’s the humanist thing to do. If jesus existed his ideas were about helping man which is humanism.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    We consulted Facing History when we began the Jewish Studies project at the college in which I teach. The problem is it rests on explanations, which do not work, will never work, have never worked in two thousand years of Christian/Catholic Jew hatred, in Christian/Catholic exporting of antisemitism to ME nations so as to scapegoat Jews while pursuing Christian/Catholic imperialist agendas.As long as the US ignores antisemitism in its own midst, befriends antisemitic Middle East and European nations, in the interest of greed, antisemitism will not end. Of course, it may be combated, but not via the methods of Facing History.Still awaiting some words from you on the topic, Susan. It’s been a few years now….

  • nikosd99

    Well, Susan, you continually remind us that you are a Christian. At what point would you then try to convert these religiously pluralistic people to Christianity?As a Christian, are you concerned about the bottom line ~ where these people are going to spend eternity? Or are you just interested in having a nation where everyone gets along with one another? You stated, “Teach tolerance and you will capture the spirit of religion that motivates us to try to build a better society.”You love to quote bible verses and often cite the Apostle Paul when it supports your misunderstanding of what salvation is all about. And guess what? The same Paul that you quoted above, also said in the same book (Galatians), “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8,9. Doesn’t sound like tolerance to me.Jesus said, “……., I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)I have read enough of your commentaries to know that you have a very low regard for Evangelical Christians. In fact, I would dare say that you have a profound hatred for us. In closing, this is what Christ has to say to you:John 15:17-21 “These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.”

  • TXatheist
  • nikosd99

    PART 2 ~ TO TXATHEIST ~ ContinuedThe apostle Paul, before he was converted, was persecuting the church. He was known as Saul of Tarsus, a very educated “religionist”. In Philippians 3:3-8, he has this to say about his credentials. “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”Paul was converted on the road to Damascus where he was headed to round up some of the believers that were there so he could return them, in bonds, to Jerusalem where they would be punished. But, something happened on the way. Paul was blinded and fell to the ground. It was there that the Lord spoke to Paul and the rest is history. Paul became the greatest evangelist of the early Church and most of the New Testament is written by him.So, the choice is yours. You can remain an intellectual atheist who is educated in religion or you can, like Paul, finally meet the Risen Saviour by humbling yourself and asking Him for forgiveness and receiving the Holy Spirit, who will teach you Truth and Wisdom.

  • nikosd99

    TO TXATHEIST ~ PART 1Therein lies your problem. You, along with most of the commentators on the On Faith panel, are educated in “Religion”. They are very educated people who have no clue as to what’s going on with God or what’s in the Bible. They are like someone who claims to be an NFL official but whose decisions never line up with the rule book.You will never understand spiritual things if you are only here to debate without the desire to really come to the truth. I have often wondered why atheists spend their time on blogs about religion unless it is because they love to show how much they really don’t know about spiritual matters or if it’s because they just love to be cantankerous. Perhaps a few are really seeking truth, but don’t like to reveal that fact. Remember that it was the religious leaders that persecuted and put Christ on the cross.I’m going to give it to you plain and simple. Until you receive the Holy Spirit you will never be able to understand spiritual truths. The Bible states that the natural man (you) cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness unto you; and neither can you know them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)To be continued

  • futball15

    Dear Susan,Whether or not you agree with what Paul writes, it is both unfair and unhelpful to actually change his words. The verse which you purport to quote actually says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5v22-23, NIV). Changing the words to “true spirit of religious faith” as you do has no basis in the text and seems done solely to provide proof-text cover for your later point.12 different translations of the Bible all translate it as “Spirit” with a capital S, or “Holy Spirit” because it is clear from the context and the word’s prior use in the letter that Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity. [The Gk word used in Gal 5v22, pneuma is used 14 times in the letter, with Gal 3v5 and 4v6 clearly showing Paul is talking about God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit.] Further Paul is clear this fruit (love, joy peace etc) comes from God as revealed in Jesus Christ, not from some vague amorphous religious spirit.The main problem with your argument though is that this verse is about love not tolerance. To reduce Paul’s exhortation for the Galatians to love one another down to one to tolerate each other cheapens and shrinks the admirable goal. I recently got married and in our vows my wife and I told each other how much we loved each other. I can tell you right now hearing her say “I love you” was far far better and more meaningful than hearing her say “I tolerate you”. This is my point, toleration just glosses over problems, real love, real concern for others, solves them. I want children in Texas, children all over this country to aim high and achieve the goal of other person centered-ness, not just to tolerate each other.

  • nikosd99

    TXATHEIST, you said, “Atheists spend their time on religion because atheism is a particular view of religion. I am guessing you wish for us to be quiet but I won’t.”Sorry, you’re wrong. I don’t wish for you to be quiet. It actually opens the door to share the gospel in hopes that it will reach the ones who are indeed seeking truth.I’m sorry that you are not worried about finding Jesus because one day, like it or not, you will meet Him. Romans 14:11,12 states, “For it is written, ‘As I live,’ saith the Lord, ‘every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”Of course, you think the Bible and God are all fictional. Unfortunately, you are wrong againI truly hope that you didn’t have the Holy Spirit because there would be no hope for you to one day come to Christ. In Hebrews 6:4-6, it states, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”I’m hoping that there is still hope for you.

  • TXatheist

    Niko, no, it’s not my problem, it’s positive attribute to understand religion but not to the point I’m naive to believe the nonsense. Niko, nothing is going on with god or the bible. One is a fictional character and the other is a fictional book. Actually, they are great officials as you said but you want home officials who are biased and call the game in your favor. Truth? You do not have the truth anymore than I do so don’t elevate your position based on a false premise. You ain’t any more in touch with reality than me. Atheists spend their time on religion because atheism is a particular view of religion. I am guessing you wish for us to be quiet but I won’t. It’s ok to disagree with the bible and god including showing why. Actually there were dozens of men put on the cross as that was a form of punishment back then but I don’t think jc lived. http://www.jesuspussle.com and thejesusmyth.com are two good resources. You are not going to give me anything because you aren’t capable. I was a xian and thought I had the holy spirit. I was simply delusional and convinced myself I did but nothing really happened because the holy spirit is just an idea in your head. Paul never met jesus and that is how the whole story of jesus is plagiarized second hand hearsay. You see, the story of jc didn’t unravel until 60 CE and therefore that constitutes hearsay. I am humble but you can keep your jesus for I’m just as worried about finding jesus as you are about finding allah and his prophet muhammad. That’s the truth.

  • TXatheist

    Niko, and what you suppose to be the creator is really just yourself talking to yourself. I have the “truth” too. I studied plagiarized mythology and realized Horus and Mithra were earlier risen savior gods and jesus was simply borrowed from their stories. Mythology isn’t science but you can use circular logic from the bible all you wish. God is real because the bible says so, and the bible is true because god says so in the bible.

  • nikosd99

    TXATHEIST, isn’t it amazing that what goes around, comes around. As I showed in my previous posting, the early Christians had their false science distractors. And now you bring up the mythological gods of Egyptian and Roman fame. And so it was, almost 2000 years ago, Paul, while in Athens, had his encounters with the Epicurean and Stoick philosophers daily in the market place.

  • TXatheist

    I’m wrong that atheists don’t spend time on religious boards because they want to express an atheist’s view? I’m right. Good choice on not wanting me to be quiet because I can share the truth with you too. The bible is a fairy tale and god is a myth. I’m sorry you are worried about jesus and god and heaven but it’s just a made up story so you shouldn’t worry but I can’t control ignorance. Like it or not you will never meet him but just decompose. The bible can say what it wants, it’s fiction beyond a few tribes/cities. If you think otherwise you are wrong. It doesn’t take one bit of faith to understand cosmology and universes expanding and collapsing. If you ever find a community college sign up for astronomy and not astrology which is just like the bible, bunk. I had the holy spirit as much as you do now, in my head as an idea. I hope one day you read something that educates you on xianity. It’s free, http://www.jesuspuzzle.com or if you wish to understand science,

  • nikosd99

    TXATHEIST, if you read my response in it’s context you would realize I wasn’t saying that you were wrong as to why atheists spend time on religious blogs, but was simply stating that you were wrong in guessing that I wished for atheists to be quiet.As for any further debate, I will simply say that I was on the other side for 39 years. Then, in June of 1974, I met the Master. I am now 74 and can say that receiving the Holy Spirit was the greatest joy of my life. Unlike your experience (“but nothing really happened”), for me, everything began to happen. And best of all, the Bible started to make sense to me as the Spirit of God began to teach me Truth. I wish the same for you.You closed with the statement, “I hope one day you read something that educates you on xianity. It’s free, http://www.jesuspuzzle.com or if you wish to understand science, I don’t need anything to educate me on Christianity as I’m being educated by the Creator of the universe. As far as understanding science, this is what the Apostle Paul has to say about it: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of SCIENCE FALSELY so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:20,21What you suppose to be science, isn’t.

  • TXatheist

    I’m not sure why that’s bringing it full circle. It’s a straight line of mythology stories in chronological order to me, jesus included. Actually, the true god is allah, just ask the muslims. I’m not mocking, but I am being historically and scientifically honest. Just as some muslims believed they were getting 72 virgins for slamming into the WTC many of us know better. They were simply men who were used by religious leaders because of their deception in thinking heaven was true. [email protected]