Benjamin Rush on Education and the Bible

Dear Sir:

     It is now several months since I promised to give you my reasons for preferring the Bible as a schoolbook to all other compositions. Before I state my arguments, I shall assume the five following propositions:

1. That Christianity is the only true and perfect religion; and that in proportion as mankind adopt its principles and obey its precepts they will be wise and happy.

2. That a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired by reading the Bible than in any other way.

3. That the Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world.

4. That knowledge is most durable, and religious instruction most useful, when imparted in early life.

5. That the Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life.

Benjamin Rush, late 1700’s

From a personal letter, later published as a tract, “The Bible in Schools”

by the American Tract Society, circa 1830

(First paragraph)

Benjamin Rush was known as one of America’s three most influential men, along with Washington and Franklin. He was a physician and scientist, and also helped to found the nation’s first abolition society. In 1776, at 30 years of age, he was one of the youngest to sign the Declaration of Independence. It is because of patriots and statesmen as he that American liberty stood the test of time.

"These are the times that try men's souls ...""... the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." -Thomas Paine

“… Whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-25). 


  1. Kathryn April 18, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    The importance of Scripture was also presented in church this morning. In a message about truth, I was encouraged again that the ONLY way to know truth was to read the letter sent to us by the Creator of Truth. How vital that we read, study, memorize, and meditate upon it!

  2. James April 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    Wow! That is good.

  3. Michael April 22, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    Separation of Church and State is an important concept for America. Only when the State is prevented from establishing and mandating one particular religion can religion then be the true and honest choice of the individual, to find the truth and follow one’s own convictions. The first amendment guarantees that Congress shall make no law (and therefore the Judiciary can enforce no law) that prohibits the free exercise of religion. Every student is therefore free to bring the Bible to school, to read it, and to obey it.

    What do you think? Is teaching from the Bible in public schools forcing a religion on anyone? Or is it establishing a State religion? Throughout most of America’s history, when teachers used the Bible to help bring order to the classroom and facilitate studiousness in the students, was that an act by the State of establishing a religion and in violation of the first amendment?

  4. Matthew Hancock May 5, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    What an outdated view…. We are too foolish to believe such things now 🙁

  5. Matthew Hancock May 5, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    Just to clarify, I wish he was one of our leaders now!

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