Saturday, October 11, 2008

Va. county replaces Bible course with broader one

The Craig County, Virginia, school board, under implied threat of legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union, voted without dissent this week to drop a high-school Bible course " in favor of a less controversial religious curriculum," Rob Johnson reports for The Roanoke Times. (Encarta map)

The course to be dropped, The Bible in History and Literature, "is promoted by actor Chuck Norris and has drawn fire from civil liberties organizations in several states who claim it unconstitutionally promotes particular religious beliefs," Johnson writes. The course is distributed by the North Carolina-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, based in Greensboro, N.C.

"The new course is called The Bible and Its Influence," a product of the Bible Literacy Project, a nonprofit group based in northern Virginia. Its course "isn't perfect, but it attempts to take a broader view of the Bible by showing that it is interpreted in different ways by various religious groups," Kent Willis, executive director for the ACLU in Virginia, told Johnson.

"Critics of the current Bible curriculum in Craig County said it ignores Jewish interpretations, among other things," Johnson reports. He interviewed Roy Blizzard, a former university Hebrew-studies teacher who advises the Greensboro group. He said its book "is a guide, not a textbook. The text in that curriculum is the Bible itself." (Read more)

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