In education, school leadership loves to place encouraging and empowering quotes in the hallway. These quotes help students make the best life decisions, give small positive affirmations, or guidance in life.
In schools that I’ve taught in, I could easily find quotes by people such as Plato, Martin Luther King Jr., Dalai Lama, a religious figure , or Benjamin Franklin. All these people have made significant contributions to history. However, I’ve always wondered where does biblical wisdom fit or is the Bible too taboo in public education for at least a quote to be recognized.
To date, I’ve only seen one quote in a public school from the Bible which was from Proverbs. That would seem appropriate because Proverbs has tons of precepts for living a good moral life. The quote I saw didn’t have any mention of “God” or “Lord” or “LORD” or any major religious connotations but instead, it was a regular wise saying from Solomon. What’s the harm in that?
I’m NOT advocating proselytizing in schools, I don’t want public teachers preaching the Gospel, nor am I advancing the fearful “I” word, indoctrination. I recognize and accept some of the limits in our public school system on religion. However, I think school leadership could consider biblical wisdom as motivation alongside those such as former President Barack Obama or Confucius, a religious figure.
I understand that the Bible makes claims about its authority, Jesus Christ exclusivity, or basic claims on reality. Some of these beliefs go against our culture’s beliefs on pluralism and morality and schools may want to distance thenselves from that. However, a glance at the wisdom from the Scriptures reveals a lot that’s not religiously motivated. They could be deemed as universal truth. For example James 1:19 says, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” This life application could have many benefits for helping students navigate through conflict resolution. In addition, Philippians 2:4 gives some important advice on being humble and attentive to others “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
If we look very closely in the Bible, universal truth for human conduct is available. If Buddha, a religious figure, can give amazing non-religious advice, why can’t Jesus Christ, Solomon, or the Apostles? There are tons of verses that don’t mention anything about God, heaven/hell, evil/good, judgment, or anything outwardly religious. A little more equal treatment is not too much to ask for.