March 20, 2017
The Good Book would make an even better textbook. And that's not just my opinion -- it's West Virginia's too. For almost 80 years, Mercer County has giving students the option of taking a class called "Bible in the Schools." But despite the tradition dating back to 1939, a single person is threatening to end a curriculum that's lasted generations in the district.
Earlier this year, that parent teamed up with the atheist bullies at the Freedom from Religious Foundation (FFRF) to file a lawsuit to suspend the class. "This program advances and endorses one religion, improperly entangles public schools in religious affairs, and violates the personal consciences of nonreligious and non-Christian parents and students," the group alleges. Maybe if the course were required the organization would have a complaint. But Mercer County has been careful to make the class elective, giving any student who's uncomfortable with the idea the option to opt out. Even that isn't good enough for the intolerants at FFRF, who called the curriculum "the equivalent of sectarian Sunday school instruction."
Unfortunately for FFRF, the district found a group to defend the class: First Liberty Institute. That's bad news for the atheists, who already had plenty of flawed arguments to overcome. "The purported harms Plaintiffs allege," First Liberty explains in its motion to dismiss, "are merely speculative, resulting from choices the [Plaintiffs] say they may have to make well into the future and related fear of potential ostracism that is grounded only in speculation, not in fact." First Liberty goes on to shame FFRF for attacking the country's "constitutional right to offer optional Bible classes in public schools for the benefit of the many students who are interested in receiving Bible instruction."
Most of us agree that no one should be compelled to attend such a course -- but no one should be able to force others not to attend either. This is an optional course, similar to what I helped Louisiana adopt almost 20 years ago.
And it isn't as if these classes are rare. There are 1,280 school districts across the country that allow this optional study of the Bible as literature, according to the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. This is just another small-time bully from the anti-Christian crowd picking a fight with a local school district that it assumes doesn't know any better. They assume wrong!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.