SALISBURY, N.C. — A prominent atheist activist organization is seeking to end the presentation of optional Bible classes at several elementary schools in North Carolina.
The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent a letter to officials with the Rowan-Salisbury School System after it received a complaint from an unidentified individual who took issue with the Bible being taught to children in public school. ‘
According to reports, the 45-minute classes are being held at Cleveland, Woodleaf and Mount Ulla Elementary Schools and parents may opt their children out of the instruction if they wish. FFRF says that it was informed that one class “presented the Bible as literal fact, including teaching a seven-day creation, giving students examples of ‘God’s plan’ that ‘clearly’ showed the universe was created with a purpose, and supposed examples of the Bible predicting scientific discoveries.”
“These classes are flagrantly unconstitutional,” the letter, written by attorney Patrick Elliott. states. “Presenting the text of the Bible as true in a public school violates a host of Supreme Court cases.”
He asserted that the classes are still wrongful even though parents may opt out their children.
“It is irrelevant that parents may excuse students from the elementary Bible classes,” the letter continued. “Suggesting that children who do not wish to be subjected to religious activity at their school should be segregated from their classmates is reprehensible. … It makes no difference if some parents would like the Rowan-Salisbury School system to teach the Bible as fact to its students.”
Elliott asked that district officials put an end to all elementary school Bible classes, and also investigate religious studies in the upper grade levels.
“The district must take the necessary corrective action to ensure that the Bible is only studied by mature students for academic purposes, in classes taught by teachers with no religious bias, using objective course materials,” he wrote.
The district says that it is looking into the matter, but has declined to comment at this time. Some parents state that they had no problem with their children being taught Christian values in school.
“They did a good job for him,” Jimmy Lookabill, whose grandson attends Woodleaf Elementary, told WSOC-TV. “He took it to heart and he’s been a good kid.”
“The Bible stories that they teach children when they’re younger, to me, teaches them to be better people—how to treat people better,” parent Tammy Jenkins added, noting that her children didn’t have the option to study the Bible when they attended Landis Elementary.
As previously reported, the first textbook used in the American colonies even before the nation’s founding, “The New England Primer,” was largely focused on the Scriptures, and was stated to be popular in colonial schools for at least one hundred years. It used mostly the King James Bible as reference, and spoke much about sin, salvation and proper behavior.
“In Adam’s fall, we sinned all,” it read, in teaching children the alphabet, using Adam as an example of the letter A.
In 1647, the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed “The Old Deluder Satan Act,” which required that children be taught to read so they could learn to read the Bible.
“In being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, … and that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers in Church and Commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors, it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof, that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty householders, shall then forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read,” it read in part.