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Bible curriculum introduced at Vinton County School Board meeting

February 7, 2012

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.

Bob Barber speaks to the Vinton County School Board about adding an elective class on the Bible to the Vinton County High School curriculum. (Photos by Paul McManis)

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.

Sarah Fannin-Simmons, who also advocates adding the Bible class, says the elective would teach about a great work of art that is currently missing from the curriculum.

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.

School board member Clint Walker reads his prepared statement on his opposition to the Bible class. In his statement, he said he will "fight tenaciously" against the class.

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.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachelle permalink
    February 7, 2012 3:31 pm

    What’s the big deal anyways? Being an elective would cool. Separating it all is what’s wrong with kids….

  2. Rachelle permalink
    February 7, 2012 3:32 pm

    It also depends on who’s teaching it too…

  3. Rachelle permalink
    February 7, 2012 3:42 pm

    If they should learn in church….who’s taking them?? Any takers?? Yeah no one…I would if they want the ride. But I can’t get the schools to let me in to help do anything. I can make/do/create nearly anything for these dances…no one will contact me. I’ve tried calling, emailing…they don’t want parents involved. I’ve tried everything to reach out to these kids but they won’t allow it. “too many loop holes I have to go through” is what I was told. I said I’ll jump them! These kids need help. I’m willing to show them how to not be part of the system…they can make out of the the pit of poverty…I made it out…so can they. This drives me crazy why someone wouldn’t want them to teach it!!!

  4. Leona Sanecki permalink
    February 9, 2012 9:44 pm

    Doesn’t this [man] who is supposedly a school official know that all our earliest colleges were founded as religious schools to teach ministers? I think most public schools were originally founded on that basis. And it is completely legal to teach our kids the koran or wicca or all sorts of false religions, and then we are denied the right to teach them judaism or Christianity. That is not separation of the church and state; it is the state sanctioning the false doctrines and outlawing the truth.

  5. February 9, 2012 9:52 pm

    Okay, it’s not as if there isn’t a strong hint of bias in this article towards the teachings of the bible in a public school. If folks want to educate their child on a god or of some deity, then please take them to Sunday school or to church.

  6. Nikki permalink
    February 10, 2012 12:10 am

    Unless the course is a comparative religion class that teaches the Torah and Koran and other religious texts, It is NOT constitutional because to teach only one religion is in near exact opposition to the spirit of first amendment where it prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion. As shocking as it may be to the various christian religions, the spirit of the first amendment is not to offer free reign to Christianity, but rather to prevent any particular religion from being able to impose it’s beliefs upon those who do not ascribe to that religion. Way back when this country was first founded, people fled here not so that they could practice religion freely without some atheistic government running around stealing their bibles, but rather from a government that was controlled by an overly powerful church that imposed its will upon everyone regardless of their own personal beliefs. Perhaps folks should double down on a study of western civilization or even just government and leave the study of the bible to an activity done at home or in one of the numerous churches.
    Allowing for the teaching of one religion without teaching all of the religions while doing it on the tax payers dime is, by definition, allowing a single religion to be state sponsored. You cannot, in a public school, teach only a single religion. It is completely and totally unconstitutional.
    Vinton county already has a ridiculous number of churches that are almost all protestant christian. The only reason they have come up with the idea of having a bible class is because they figure that they could have a captive audience of students to indoctrinate if they offered them an easy bible class to take the place of some other class that might cause the children to actually think and to learn something. They don’t offer foreign language, science, world history, or courses of that sort in church. So, the time that children spend in school should be spent learning things that the local pastor isn’t going to teach them. A person would have to be a fool to see this course as anything other than a chance to indoctrinate children into a single religion.

  7. SnarkyMama permalink
    February 10, 2012 1:40 am

    Lighten up people – it was proposed as an ELECTIVE course. That means you can elect / choose to take the course or not, plain and simple. Stop trying to turn this into a religious debate…. Pick your battles people – an ELECTIVE course that a child clearly does NOT have to take if they do not want to is NOT reason enough to embarrass our town with nonsense written on a public site for all to see like this! Now, were they to MANDATE children to take this course against their/our will, that is the time to stand up for what you believe in.

  8. Penni permalink
    February 11, 2012 5:59 pm

    There are Christians in this community who would also be very concerned to see this curriculum being offered in the school because of the legal precedent it sets – one that could have unhappy consequences in the future; i.e., if this is allowed, how can the school board later deny others who might seek permission to teach to teach courses using other holy books that could also be said to have value as literature?

    Furthermore, as Mr. Walker has quite correctly pointed out, The KJV is not the Bible of choice for every denomination. Ask yourself – would you be fine with this if the course used a Catholic Bible (or any other Bible not of your own choosing) instead – as long as it’s an elective course?

    I personally think any student who wants to carry a personal copy of the Bible should be allowed, and I applaud permitting student-led Bible studies and prayer groups as elective clubs or organizations, but a board-sanctioned approval of a Bible curriculum is another matter entirely as schools are funded by the dollars of all tax-payers. Even if the curriculum is free, presumably a licensed teacher will have to be paid to teach this course, so it isn’t without cost. Those who are not in agreement with this decision would have the right to object to this use of their tax dollars.

    I expect that the Board will be seeking legal counsel on this matter lest they find themselves being challenged in court.

  9. February 13, 2012 8:37 pm

    You might to read this.

  10. Pam Radabaugh permalink
    February 15, 2012 11:13 am

    It is proposed as an elective course. Teach all forms of religion as an elective. It should be fine with everyone. We have freedom of choice. Learning is certainly not harmful to anyone. It’s what you have no knowledge of, that can be harmful.

    At least it has opened up alot of dialogue.


  11. Sheree' permalink
    February 28, 2012 3:11 pm

    Lord help us all!!!!!! Having a Bible elective class would be an awesome opportunity for the children in our community. As Christians, we are supposed to be Christ-like! We are not supposed to profess to be a Christian, yet fight “tenaciously” against Christ’s teaching! Get real! Do not be a hypocrit! No person is perfect, but we surely need to make sure that we are sending a clear signal. Not by saying…… I’m a Christian…..yet, I’ll fight tenaciously against Christ’s teaching…………..etc., etc.. Yeah! It is not the Public School System’s responsiblity to teach God’s word, it’s their responsibilty to teach, period. As Christians, it is OUR responsiblity to teach & spread God’s word anywhere & everywhere….In the church, in the home, in the alley, in the class, in the car, etc.! If you don’t want to be Christ-like, then don’t be. But don’t try to prohibit others from doing so! I will definately be praying for you! 🙂


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