January 24, 2017
It may the Good Book, but it's getting a bad rap in West Virginia. After 78 long years of offering an elective Bible class in Mercer County, a single parent is threatening to end a tradition that's lasted generations in the district. In typical Freedom from Religion Foundation fashion, the cultural bullies fired off a letter threatening a lawsuit if the course isn't suspended.
"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." So far, the district hasn't decided how to respond.
But members of the community are more than happy to. Craig Hammond, a lay leader, says it would be a shame for Mercer County to cave without a fight. "I do know how beneficial the classes were," he said, "not from a religious perspective, but it's a great reference to world history. It's always been very focused on it from a historical and literary point of view." Rev. Gary Moore agreed. "It's not that all of this is forced on anybody to do it," he told local reporters. "It has been a much needed part of our curriculum for many years."
This is just one more example of what gave rise to the November election results. In this case, one parent is choosing to deny her child the ability to know God. And because she's fearful that her child will be exposed to the Bible that undermines the ideology she's promoting, she tries to force her view on everyone else. I 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. Maybe someone ought to remind these religious censors that the Bible wasn't just a part of the curriculum in America -- it was the curriculum until liberals got involved.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.