Too bad, ACLU! The Bible's back in school

millermedia 2012/09/09 13:48:55
Way to go Hamilton County
None of the above
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Once upon a time in America, most public school children – including several future presidents – studied, discussed and even learned to read from the Bible.

A pair of landmark Supreme Court cases in the 1960s, however, put the fear of litigation into school principals, and a new era in education began, where advocates for the “separation of church and state” used the courts to push the Bible out of classrooms.

This foundational divide in U.S. history was only highlighted by Barack Obama’s controversial remark in 2006, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation.”

One county in Tennessee, however, has found a way to keep biblical instruction in its public schools – with the blessing of a court decision, the support of the community and in keeping with a tradition that began in 1922.

On Sept. 16, a group of 11 Hamilton County, Tenn., churches – including Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Assemblies of God and more – will meet for the “Hixson Gathering,” a prayer service and fund-raiser for a unique program of elective, for-credit, Bible history classes taught at 20 schools in the county, including the Hixson Middle and High Schools.

With the help of an organization called Bible in the Schools, area residents, like those at the Hixson Gathering, are able to reimburse the Hamilton County Department of Education for certified Bible teachers – hired at no cost to the taxpayers – while dodging the legal tactics of groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

“The federal courts have affirmed that teaching the Bible in our public schools is a constitutionally protected freedom,” Bible in the Schools asserts. “[And] with all the concern over character, no program is better positioned to touch more students quantitatively or qualitatively.”

“I would love to say ‘thank you’ to the Hixson community for helping us to offer such a wonderful program in our schools,” Hixson Middle School Principal LeAngela Rogers told Tennessee’s Chattanoogan. “The teen years are a time of unprecedented growth socially, physically, emotionally and morally. Bible history classes contribute not only to their academic achievement, but also to character education, as students develop into their own person.”

Ron Phillips, pastor of Abba’s House, one of the churches participating in the joint effort, told the newspaper, “President Andrew Jackson said the Bible ‘is the rock on which our Republic rests.’ No one is truly educated without a knowledge of Scripture.”

The program, which Bible in the Schools told WND it hopes can serve as a model for communities all across the U.S., began in 1922, when local resident Dr. J. Park McCallie first proposed a unique plan in which private citizens in the community would pay for teachers – who would, in turn, be subject to the board of education in scholarship and discipline – to instruct students in the history and language of the Bible. Doctrinal questions, however, would be directed back to the students’ pastors or priests.

The program was accepted and practiced until a court decision in 1979 temporarily stopped it.

On appeal, however, a U.S. District Court decision laid down guidelines for how the program could be reinstated with the court’s blessing and without violating the constitutional concerns that prompted the earlier decision.

McCallie’s idea, somewhat modified, took off again. This year, 20 middle and high schools across Hamilton County will offer Bible history electives to 14,692 students as part of the program.

Bible in the Schools reports that where the study of the Bible is offered in Hamilton County today, nearly 70 percent of all students will elect to take one or more Bible courses before graduating.

“We want our program to be a model for how it can be done,” explained Diane Cropp, development director for Bible in the Schools. “We set up our program, not that we are able to help others actually implement it right now, but what we have done is available for others to see and copy, and we would love to see that happen.”

Crop said the organization’s already extensive website is being built up to clearly illustrate how local churches and citizens have made it work in Hamilton County. She said the organization is also hoping to make the curriculum it is helping to draft available online “so that someone else doesn’t have to start from scratch.”

According to the Bible in the Schools website, several unique factors enable its plan for Bible courses to be offered and taught constitutionally and in accordance with the U.S. District Court’s decision:

  • Teachers must be employed and supervised by the county Department of Education.
  • Teachers must be certified and have a minimum of 12 semester hours of Bible courses as part of their college education.
  • The schools must be reimbursed in full for the teachers’ salaries and benefits by private citizens; there is no cost to the taxpayer.
  • Bible courses are elective, offered to middle and senior high students only, and credit is given for their study.
  • No religious proselytizing, sectarianism nor denominationalism is permitted in class. Students with doctrinal questions are encouraged to seek out a pastor or rabbi
  • The curriculum is court approved.

And even through Hamilton County has had to blaze the trail in developing a unique plan for courses, teacher certification, private funding and so forth, Bible in the Schools asserts it’s critical to quality education.

“So much of the art, music, history, law, culture and moral standards of Western civilization [is] based on the Bible, that to be culturally literate, a truly educated American requires biblical knowledge,” the organization asserts. “When the schools of a nation fail adequately to transmit the literate national language and culture, the unity and effectiveness of the nation will necessarily decline.”

Other efforts to teach the Bible in public school

As Chuck Norris pointed out hundreds of school districts and communities across the nation have been looking for a plan like Hamilton County’s to offer classes on biblical history and literacy to public school students.

Some have petitioned local governments; others have sought reform through state legislatures or curriculum boards.

As Norris also pointed out, however, there are also several local and national organizations pushing back, seeking further restrictions on teaching Bible courses in schools.

Norris encouraged readers to consider supporting or even joining a group like the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools.

“Unknown to most, it’s our legal and our constitutional right to be taught the Bible in public schools,” Norris wrote. “I want to help you get a course on it offered in your school district, too.

“Anyone who has studied early American history knows that the Bible has always been embedded throughout our culture, from classrooms to congressional halls,” he continued. “So, what’s stopping you from being the instrument for implementing biblical education in your local school?”

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  • ¤Creepy Lumberjack¤ >-QC-< 2012/10/20 02:55:05
    ¤Creepy Lumberjack¤ >-QC-<
    If you believe this is good you are comparable to Iran's islamic law supporters.
  • ✞Knight of Honor 2012/10/07 05:20:12
    Way to go Hamilton County
    ✞Knight of Honor
  • HistoryBuff782 2012/10/02 01:30:37
    And it's because of things like this why America is the educational laughing stock of the world..
  • millerm... History... 2012/10/02 02:41:24
    You must be a high school dropout to make a statement like that. What countries are laughing at us? The ones who do not believe in God?
  • History... millerm... 2012/10/02 02:56:48
    Other 1st world countries in Europe and Asia that (for the most part) don't have to deal with scientifically illiterate religious fanatics trying to bring their fairytales into schools and government.
  • Bibliophilic 2012/09/21 20:05:09
    The bible can be a good instructional tool, but schools are not centers for religious indoctrination. Students should study holy texts, but schools are not churches!

    get your religion out

    NO religion in public schools- no religion should be catered to.

    “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation.”

    Don't like it? Enroll your kid in a private religious school or go home.
  • elijahin24 2012/09/21 15:56:43
    None of the above
    Too bad Constitution. Religion reignes over equality in this country. Too bad non-Christians, you are at the mercy of your Bible-thumping overlords. Too bad founding fathers; your experiment failed. In the end, people would rather live under the thumb of an imaginary dictator in the sky; than uphold the principals of equality under law, which you put in place. Tough luck everybody.
  • millerm... elijahin24 2012/09/21 22:24:50
    You sound hopeless. When you do not believe in God the creator.....then you have no real hope.
  • elijahin24 millerm... 2012/09/22 03:30:07
    And you sound like someone who doesn't know a single atheist. If you did, you would know what a gross and inaccurate generalization that really is. I simply don't place my hope in the supernatural.
  • elvira 2012/09/16 03:08:39
    Way to go Hamilton County
    This school obviously wants this bad enough to fight for it. The courts have agreed it is a "constitutional" protected freedom. So let it be.
  • elijahin24 elvira 2012/09/21 15:59:30
    I really don't understand why this is necessary. What value does religion, which has historically stifled education and knowledge aquisition; bring to the education system? Why do you need to pray, in order to learn long division? What does Jesus have to do with gravity and photosynthisis? What possible value can this mythology bring to a student trying to master reading?
  • elvira elijahin24 2012/09/21 19:05:15
    DARN if I know. If the people in Tennessee want it, they have the right to have it. I'd rather be reading a book similar to "Pride and Prejudice" myself.
  • elijahin24 elvira 2012/09/21 19:08:15
    Hopefully they'll have at least one more hurdle to jump before they can have it.
  • elvira elijahin24 2012/09/21 19:24:45
    They have the right (within reason) to this "History of the Bible" class. I just hope they don't plan on shoving it down students throats who are not interested in the class.

    I for one would love to see religion disappear from the earth. It is the cause of too many unnecessary deaths. If you need to speak to God, just open your mouth. No religion needed.
  • elijahin24 elvira 2012/09/21 19:41:15
    (pun allert) you're preaching to the choir, sister. I think religion is the greatest plague that humanity has ever seen.
  • Odinsown 2012/09/11 02:44:25
    None of the above
    If they are teaching bible they must also teach other religions, If my child went to school in that district i would expect the school to offer a class on The Havamal, The sagas, The anglo-saxon chronicle, and other heathen subjects. I am sorry but public schools SHOULD NOT teach religion!

    The premise here is that, it once was done so now it should be done again. When the bible was taught in schools, mostly by they in rural areas, it wasn't out of purely religious reasons, it was the most widely printed book and therefore the most common. If we were to apply that logic to today we would be using a chinese book to learn to read.

    Keep you god out of our schools and I will do the same.

    thor jesus odin jesus Freyr god Valknut
  • millerm... Odinsown 2012/09/11 12:20:16
    Teaching the Bible is not teaching religion. That would be like saying that teaching driver's education books is teaching driving skills. It only teaches the rules of the road; you learn the driving skills by getting behind the wheel.
  • Odinsown millerm... 2012/09/11 13:09:46
    The bible is a religous text it only teaches the rules of Christianity. Teaching the bible is by definition teaching religion, it is not history(some of the places mentioned and figures mentioned are historical, but that does not make the bible a historical text), it is not math(you cannot fit 2 of every creature on a ship that size), it is not fact.

    What is your next invalid point?
  • History... millerm... 2012/10/02 01:35:59
    You've got to be kidding me...

    How is the bible NOT teaching religion? That may be the most contradicting statement I've ever heard.

    Oh, and if you're going to teach your fairytales, then technically you should teach other religious texts like the Qu'ran, Torah, Vedas, etc.

    We are not a theocracy. Keep your 2000 year old fairytales out of our schools!
  • darwolf 2012/09/10 14:50:44
    None of the above
    Now if some these children wants to have Quran,and Torah studies too. There be should no problem right?
  • Cat 2012/09/10 04:29:24
    Way to go Hamilton County
    Now the Saudis can pay to teach Islam and sharia in school too. Yeah, nice work?
  • wtw 2012/09/10 02:49:19
    Way to go Hamilton County
    That is great!
  • elijahin24 wtw 2012/09/21 16:51:51
    I trust you're cool with them teaching the Qur'an as well? What about the Satanic Bible?
  • just so... elijahin24 2012/09/28 06:11:05
  • elijahin24 just so... 2012/09/28 15:01:47
  • just so... elijahin24 2012/09/28 18:31:07
  • elijahin24 just so... 2012/09/28 18:34:08
    Well thank you. I'm not big fan of Satan or his rival; but I am a fan of equality. If ANY religion is to be in schools, they ALL should be.
  • just so... elijahin24 2012/09/28 20:49:41
  • stevmackey 2012/09/10 01:45:25
    Way to go Hamilton County
    I hope the ACLU chokes on that one.
  • elijahin24 stevmackey 2012/09/21 16:52:10
    I think the founding father just choked on it.
  • 3359557 2012/09/10 00:39:12
    Way to go Hamilton County
    It should have NEVER been taken out. This is GODS COUNTRY. We musn't forget that.!!
  • elijahin24 3359557 2012/09/21 16:53:57
    That's weird. I thought it was a nation of religious liberty. Your god is welcomed here. So are the gods of the Pagans, Muslims, Hindu, and every other religion on earth; but NONE of them are allowed to lay claim to ownership of this country.
  • 3359557 elijahin24 2012/09/23 18:34:04
    Every one is intitled to their oponion. Mine is there is only ONE GOD. AMERICA is a nation of imigrants, from all over the world. GOD has made this country the best because we are to reconize all religions, and this IS a COUNTRY OF IMIGRANTS.
  • elijahin24 3359557 2012/09/24 02:51:13
    That's right. Everyone is Entitled to their opInion. What you are NOT entitled to do is mix your religious opinions, with our government. Religious liberty can ONLY exist if it is protected from government, and government is protected from religion.
  • JuliaLoren 3359557 2012/10/08 20:59:24
    this is NOT gods country, where the hell do you live? i live in the USA, founded on people escaping religious rule. The USA, where we have separation of church & state.
  • umapathy Krishnamurthy 2012/09/10 00:29:19
    umapathy Krishnamurthy
    Religion must separated from school, government
  • RENEGAD... umapath... 2012/09/10 03:21:05
    Sure not a problem, India can run its schools anyway they like. This country Had God in it for well over 200 years, going to keep it too.
  • Cheerios RENEGAD... 2012/09/11 02:29:15
    Correction: The country of America has had all gods (and no god) in it for 200 years.
    I'm not religious but, i'm still just as American as you.
  • Harjot 2012/09/09 23:09:59
    None of the above
    I have mixed feelings about this. Although our family is not Christian, I have no problem with our children studying the Bible either as literature or as an important part of US History. In fact, I think an understanding of the majority religion/worldview is a necessary part of being a part of the nation.

    My reservations come from the fact that, whatever the rules, a certain amount of proselytization will take place; it's inevitable after class, if not during class. I'm not afraid of that; our children are well-grounded in their faith and can hold their own, if need be. I just don't want them subjected to "You're going to hell because you don't have Jesus in your heart" as a regular part of their school day, as I was, nearly every day.

    I wonder how these believers would react if some other sacred texts, such as the Vedas, the Tao Te Ch'ing, the Guru Granth Sahib and (heaven forbid!) the Qu'ran were also taught.
  • Jim 2012/09/09 23:06:46
    Way to go Hamilton County
    I agree 100%. I am getting tired of this church and state thing. No where in the U.S. Constitution does it state separation of church and state.
    "Article I, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
    "Article X, The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
    If we teach the theory of evolution in our schools, then we must teach creationism and any other theory of how the world and our solar system has come about. This is what the true argument is about. The atheists what only evolution taught because they are afraid to believe in God.
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