After receiving inquiries from the ACLU, County opts for less problematic courseCRAIG COUNTY, VA – The ACLU of Virginia has received a letter from the Superintendent of Craig County Public Schools announcing that the School Board has reversed a decision made in May to teach a controversial and constitutionally suspect course entitled The Bible in History and Literature.
A product of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS), The Bible in History and Literature is promoted nationwide by actor Chuck Norris and has drawn fire from civil liberties organizations and many religious leaders, who claim that it unconstitutionally promotes particular religious beliefs in public schools.
Shortly after the School Board decided to offer the NCBCPS course at Craig County High School, the ACLU of Virginia launched an investigation. Using the Freedom of Information Act, the civil liberties organization obtained tapes of minutes of the School Board meetings and copies of the proposed curriculum and accompanying literature.
The NCBCPS course was recently the subject of a lawsuit in Texas. In 2007, eight parents of students filed a federal lawsuit against the Ector County School Board, claiming that the NCBCPS course it had adopted violated students’ rights by promoting a particular interpretation of the Bible that is not even shared by most Christians in the world. The case, which was handled by the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way, was settled in March of this year when Ector County school officials agreed to drop the NCBCPS course and adopt one more consistent with the constitutional requirements.
Although it has decided not to teach the NCBCPS course, the Craig County School Board will offer another course, the more widely used The Bible and Its Influence, which is the product of the Bible Literacy Project. (Additional information on the Bible Literacy and the course may be found at www.bibleliteracy.org.)
“The new course adopted by the Craig County School Board is an improvement over the one chosen earlier this year,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “But all religion courses in public schools require close monitoring to make certain that they are not used to proselytize students or as a means for the government to promote some religions over others.”
“We’ll continue to watch the goings on in Craig County as the course is taught,” added Willis, “and we hope that the School Board will provide some kind of formal oversight to make certain that the religious liberty of every student is protected.”
CONTACT: Kent Willis, office (804) 644-8022