The Cape Henlopen School Board has been split on the move, which was introduced by member Sandi Minard, who told the News-Journal that parents in the district thought the curriculum would be beneficial to students.
“I’ve heard from people whose kids are not growing up in a religious environment,” she said. “They’re lacking the understanding of what the Bible is and how it’s influenced our country.”
The class, while not being classified as a Bible study, would require students to read Biblical passages and then contemplate how that Scripture had an impact upon a particular event in history. The curriculum, created by the Bible Literacy Project, would include the use of a textbook entitled The Bible and It’s Influence.
“It’s basically a textbook for the academic study of the Bible,” board member Jen Burton stated. “I think this would be great to have … It provides students with important history.”
According to the Bible Literacy Project website, “With the Bible as the primary text, the student edition guides the biblical reading and frames the classroom discussion in constitutionally acceptable ways. The textbook covers the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It is rich in illustration and filled with features that demonstrate the Bible’s influence on culture, art, and academics.”
But school board members that are apprehensive about adding the course state that they find it a challenge to present information objectively and without directly promoting Christianity in the classroom.
“To me, attempting to teach ‘Bible literacy’–whatever that actually means, in public school classrooms, outside of houses of worship, is outlandish as … well, a talking snake–out of context,” Roni Posner told the Cape Gazette.
However, tonight, members will vote on whether or not they believe the class should be offered to students–and matters are stated to be too close to call at this point.
“Just from what’s been said in meetings, it could be up or down. It could go either way,” President Spencer Brittingham told reporters. “We have gotten emails vehemently against this and emails from people who are strongly in support of it.”
According to 2010 statistics, nearly 500 schools nationwide offered the Bible Literacy Project’s curriculum. The highest concentration of schools that taught the course were in the state of Texas, but California, Indiana, Alabama and North Carolina also had over 3o schools participating in the program.
“Such courses offer great academic value because the Bible has had a timeless influence on literature, culture, and public discourse,” the organization states. “Furthermore, non-devotional teaching about the Bible has a firm legal foundation, and classroom materials to ensure that these courses are taught effectively and appropriately are now in use nationwide.”