Bible curriculum introduced at Vinton County School Board meeting
Board member says he will fight inclusion of elective
By Paul McManis
Commoner Journal staff writer
McARTHUR — Vinton County High School students may soon see an elective course added to their curriculum that teaches from the Bible and gives students the opportunity to learn from its forms of art and literature.
But if one Vinton County School Board member has his say, the class will not be included in the school’s curriculum and students will not be exposed to teachings he feels young people should learn in church instead of school.
Bob Barber and Sarah Fannin-Simmons, who have put together a group to bring Bible curriculum to Vinton County schools, spoke to school board members during a special meeting Monday night to introduce them to the curriculum.
Barber said he would like to see the curriculum added to the school. The course uses the Bible as a textbook to teach students both the Old and New Testaments by a state-licensed teacher.
Barber said he explained the poor economic status of the county with a representative of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, and in turn, he said the council was willing to offer the curriculum to the school free of charge.
According to the NCBCPS website, the curriculum already has been voted into nearly 600 school districts in 38 states, accounting for more than 2,000 schools and 550,000 students being entered into the program.
Barber said he will do what he can to get the Bible in Vinton County’s high school as well. He said the course is legal as long as it is used as a method used to teach Bible history and art, not to indoctrinate students.
“I’m deeply committed to it,” Barber said. “It absolutely meets the constitution. … It is not indoctrination to any religious sect.”
Fannin-Simmons echoed Barber’s desire to bring the curriculum into the school, saying the class would fill a void in the education that is currently being received by students.
“We have a lot of great works of art in our society and we have implemented them in our education,” Fannin-Simmons said. “However, we are missing one.”
School board member Clint Walker disagreed with allowing the curriculum in the schools, and said in a prepared statement that he will do everything within his power to stop the curriculum from being implemented in Vinton County.
“I am opposed to, and will fight tenaciously, the inclusion of any elective course in the school district’s curriculum that supposedly teaches the Bible as history or literature, whether I am vilified or not by a few who believe they speak for the majority,” Walker said in his statement.
Walker said in his statement that he is a Christian and was brought up by parents who allowed him to learn from the Bible in a church setting. He said that setting is where the Bible should be taught, as the responsibility to teach from the Bible belongs to the church — not the school.
Walker also stated he will adhere to his duties as a school board member to ensure that children in the district do not receive Biblical teachings in the classroom.
“The public school system should not be responsible for teaching the Bible. Moreover, it is our duty as school board members to ensure that all materials adopted for the education of all students be free of ‘promoting a particular interpretation of the Bible that is not shared by Jews, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and most Protestants.’ Our duty is to educate not proselytize,” Walker said in his statement.
No other members made a comment regarding the curriculum in the meeting.
School Board President Jeff Thacker said the board will study the material and will make a decision at a later time.
The next school board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Vinton County Local Schools Administration Building.