There's debate over a proposed high school class in one Delaware community. The course, one that would explore the Bible's role in both history and society, would be optional for students -- but that hasn't halted the controversy surrounding it.
The elective class is spawning angst among those who fear separation of church and state violations. Supporters, however, believe that the educational experience will offer a viable way to teach students about the massive impact the book has had on society.
In taking the course, students would read the Bible, but they would also rely upon an accompany textbook, Delaware Online reports. Rather than a religious study, the class is being dubbed by supporters as offering an academic lens through which the historical book can be examined.
"An educated person needs to know about the Bible. It's a great course," resident Betsy Glover said at a past board meeting, according to CapeGazette.com. "If Cape does it, it would be the first school in the state."
Sandi Minard who serves on the Cape Henlopen School Board in Lewes, Delaware, proposed the class after speaking with parents who felt that it would be a good idea. While it was apparently determined by the community's curriculum board that it would be legal to host the class, numerous concerns have arisen.
Mainly, board members are wondering who should teach the class. There are positives and negatives to hiring a teacher who is a person of faith versus one who rejects Biblical tenets. Indoctrination, though, is something that all parties must consider.
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The outcome of a vote, which is expected to be held today, is somewhat unpredictable, considering the debate surrounding the class.
"Just from what's been said in meetings, it could be up or down. It could go either way," Spencer Brittingham, the board's president, told Delaware Online. "We have gotten emails vehemently against this and emails from people who are strongly in support of it."
Now, in order to ensure that the class doesn't violate the First Amendment, it must have a secular purpose and it must not overstep any religious bounds. This means that it cannot, in any way, implore young people to embrace religious sentiment.
The curriculum is being designed by the Bible Literacy Project, a group that takes a secular approach to teaching the holy book.
"We are very clear on this. We're not trying to tell students what to believe," Sarah Jenislawski, the group's executive director, told Delaware Online "I think once people understand what we're trying to do, a lot of the concerns you see go away."
"When people understand that you're teaching about the Bible but not teaching that people need to conform to any particular religion or religious thought, things become a lot less controversial," she added.
Whether the Cape Henlopen School Board will adopt the class remains to be seen, but the debate continues to be fascinating surrounding the world's most popular and bestselling book.
If approved, the course would begin in the 2014 school year.
(H/T: Delaware Online)
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