You cannot be culturally literate - or an educated person - in Western Civilization without knowing the Bible. It's our culture's taproot. It's therefore interesting to see that public school courses in the Bible are growing in popularity.
David van Biema has a very fine piece in the usually-disappointing Time Magazine discussing this new trend, and the issues around it.
It begins thus:
Miss Kendrick came ready, with props. The day's topic was the Gospel of Matthew. "You can divide all the Beatitudes into two parts," Jennifer Kendrick explained to her teenage audience. "The 'Blessed are the whatevers,' like 'the meek,' and then the reward they will get. So I've made some puzzle pieces here." She passed out construction-paper sheets, each bearing either the name of a virtuous group or its reward, in black marker. "And you've got to find the person who has the other half. What's the first one in the Bible?"
"The poor in spirit," mumbled a crew-cut boy.
"O.K. What goes with the poor in spirit?"
A girl in the front of the room replied, reading from her sheet, "For they will see God."
"Nope," chirped Kendrick. "O.K., find the person that matches yours. I'll take the roll."
Read the whole thing (4 pages).