Richard Dawkins wants all our kids to read the King James Bible. He calls Ecclesiastes "one of the glories of English literature," suggests that "[a] native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian," and writes that:
European history, too, is incomprehensible without an understanding of the warring factions of Christianity and the book over whose subtleties of interpretation they were so ready to slaughter and torture each other.
He does admit to "an ulterior motive" in promoting Biblical literacy:
People who do not know the Bible well have been gulled into thinking it is a good guide to morality. [...] I have even heard the cynically misanthropic opinion that, without the Bible as a moral compass, people would have no restraint against murder, theft and mayhem. The surest way to disabuse yourself of this pernicious falsehood is to read the Bible itself.
After a tour of various OT atrocities and barbarisms, he writes that "'Sophisticated' theologians (what is there in 'theology' to be sophisticated about?) now treat these horrors as parables or myths, which is just as well." and concludes that:
Whatever else the Bible might be - and it really is a great work of literature - it is not a moral book and young people need to learn that important fact because they are very frequently told the opposite.
Jerry Coyne agrees with Dawkins about the Bible's necessity for educated individuals, and asks is it great literature? He notes that "So many allusions (and illusions), and so much of what we hear, derive from that singular work of fiction:"
If someone wanted to place a single book in all schools that has not only literary value but a tremendous influence in our culture, let it be Shakespeare--preferably the complete works as compiled in The Riverside Shakespeare. The Bible is already in most schools, reposing unread in the library; why not ensure that every school also has a copy of Shakespeare's great works? They have all the beauty and humanity of the Bible with none of the stupidity and superstition. (I suspect that Shakespeare has added as many phrases to our language as has the King James Bible).
The Guardian observes that, much like the Bible, Shakespeare has benefited from cultural imperialism. Confronting the culture-warrior claim that "All the world loves Shakespeare! His plays are universal!" The Guardian's Emer O'Toole nails it: "Universal my toe. Shakespeare is full of classism, sexism, racism and defunct social mores:"
The Taming of the Shrew (aka The Shaming of the Vagina-Bearer) is about as universally relevant as the chastity belt. I'm sick of directors tying themselves up in conceptual knots, trying to frame poor Katherina as some kind of feminist heroine. The Merchant of Venice (Or The Evil Jew) is about as universal as the Nuremberg laws. What's that? Shakespeare allows Shylock to express the progressive sentiment that Jews are people before confiscating his property and forcing him to convert to Christianity, therefore Merchant is actually a humanist text? Come off it, sister.
So where has the idea that Shakespeare is "universal" come from? Why do people the world over study and perform Shakespeare? Colonialism. That's where, and that's why. Shakespeare was a powerful tool of empire, transported to foreign climes along with the doctrine of European cultural superiority. Taught in schools and performed under the proscenium arches built where the British conquered, universal Shakespeare was both a beacon of the greatness of European civilisation and a gateway into that greatness - to know the bard was to be civilised.
One should note that no wars have been waged over rival interpretations of Shakespeare; would that religions were as consistently ennobling.