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Author/DatePost
Alex_Kasman
Sep 3 2007
The Bible in Dorchester Schools

Clayton Seufert wrote to us last year about the election of some people to the Dorchester School Board who promised to introduce religious education in public schools. He has now written with an update, which I reproduce below.

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry,

You published an informational commentary by me in the

Nov 2006 Separationist newsletter titled "The ABC's of

Dorchester Two School Board Elections". In it I discussed

a candidate forum I attended where the "ABC Team" of

candidates stated they didn't believe in evolution and

felt Bible classes in the public schools were needed.

Two of that "ABC Team", Charlie Stoudenmire and

Gail Hughes were elected; and the result of them being

on the board became evident last month (Aug).

Most of you probably heard how our SC state government

passed a bill in Jun to allow "teaching history and literature

of Old Testament and New Testament" (S*0726, Rat #0155,

Act #0102 of 2007). The bill requires the state Board of

Education to adopt standards and materials for the courses,

and authorizes county boards to implement the classes.

The state board is working and researching the standards

and materials.

But the Dorchester Two School Board isn't going to let

something like no state standards and no state approved materials

stop them from getting classes started. The board approved

elective classes called "History and Literature of the Old and

New Testament" on Aug 13. Make that "unanimously" approved.

Can read that board report at http://www.dorchester2.k12.sc.us/

Click the "Board Briefs" link in the upper left of the page.

Was also a story in the Post and Courier at:

http://www.charleston.net/news/2007/aug/14/district_board_adopts_bible_course12960/

Surprising (or not so surprising - considering how well funded

and well planned the folks pushing this agenda are), the

school was able to get books and start the class already.

I have a contact that talked with the teacher and found out

they are using the Bible Literacy Project textbook

"Bible and Its Influence" (http://www.bibleliteracy.org).

But the teacher is also considering including some information

from the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public

Schools (http://www.bibleinschools.net).

Just wanted to keep you folks up to date.

Clayton Seufert

To repeat my own views, which I have expressed in greater detail elsewhere: Freedom of religion in this country does not mean simply that individual religions cannot be outlawed, but also that the power of democracy cannot be corrupted to serve the purpose of promoting the religious views of the majority over others. Even though the majority may be able to get enough votes to force their own religious beliefs on others, they are prohibited from doing so by the Bill of Rights.

An important part of this is the right of parents to educate their own children about their religious beliefs as they choose to do. Although they try to present it as either "literature", "history" or simply an "unbiased introduction to religious belief", religion classes in public schools are almost certain to degenerate into a violation of these freedoms. I remember hearing about a public school in Dalton, GA at which the minister from the principal's church was invited each year to tell the children that their families were all going to hell if they went to some other church. If even Christian denominations use public schools to turn Christian children against their parents' churches, what hope is there for other minority religious views (i.e. Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, atheism, etc.) in this country so dominated by Christians?

Religious education should take place in private schools, religious institutions and homes...but not in public schools. Even a majority of voters cannot change the fact that to do otherwise would be a violation of the freedom of religion of the minority that may disagree.

-Alex

Laura_Kasman
Sep 3 2007
More on Bible Literacy in Public Schools

A link on the Bible Literacy Project web page is to an LA Times article by Seema Mehta, Times Staff Writer appearing on August 5, 2007. In it she quotes the results of a survey of Bible as Literature courses in Texas public schools:

"A 2006 study by Chancey, funded by the liberal Texas Freedom Network, which surveyed every Texas public high school's Bible classes, showed what can go wrong. Of the 25 districts offering the classes during the 2005-06 academic year, the study found, all but three had minimal academic value and were not taught objectively, teachers were largely unqualified, and some classes were taught by clergy.

"The vast majority of Texas Bible courses, despite their titles, do not teach about the Bible in the context of a history or literature class," according to the study. "Instead, the courses are explicitly devotional in nature and reflect an almost exclusively Christian perspective of the Bible. They assume that students are Christians, that Christian theological claims are true and that the Bible itself is divinely inspired -- all of which are inappropriate in a public school classroom."

see http://www.bibleliteracy.org/Site/News/bibl_newsLATimes070810.htm for more

The Bible Literacy project folks say their text "The Bible and its Influence" has been approved by Protestant, Catholic and Jewish clergy, so this won't happen with their curriculum. But clearly a teacher makes the course what it is, not the book. And knowing South Carolina as we do, we're going to see the same problems here as in Texas, with teachers sermonizing because they can't see the Bible any other way themselves.

-Laura

reasonwithme
Sep 3 2007

good info guys....thanks.

Alex_Kasman
Sep 7 2007
Good news and bad news

The bad news: My wife, Laura, found that you can browse the textbook being used in Dorchester on Google Books and it is scary. It just retells selected Bible stories and discusses the moral implications...more at the Sunday School level than what one might want to think high schools strive for. Their idea of "giving alternative views" is to say that while SOME people think Genesis is a literal description of the origins of the world, others just think it is a poem about man's relationship with God.

The good news: I have just learned that our speaker in October will be Ed Buckner speaking on "Secular Schools". This apparently is exactly the sort of discussion we need to be having now. Perhaps we could tie this in with the events in Dorchester somehow?

Here is an example of Buckner's writings on the subject:

From "Secular Schooling" by Ed Buckner, PhD<p>

Every citizen benefits from separation of church and state or, in the case of public schools, from the separation of religious education from common public education. Despite myths to the contrary, separation is not a matter of being careful not to offend either people without religion or people who follow a minority religion. Nor is separation of church and state an anti-religious principle. "Secular" means "not based on religion"—it doesn't mean "hostile to religion." As every public school teacher and every parent should know, the purpose of separation is to protect religious liberty. As government becomes involved in religion, interpretations of the true meaning of "God" and "faith" inevitably drift toward one narrowly-defined denominational vision. Many Christian denominations in the U.S., including Baptists and Catholics, have actively supported separation to prevent their own religious identities being pushed aside by a different concept of God. The Southern Baptist Conference understood the point so well that it included separation of church and state as one of its founding principles.

Nancy000
Sep 7 2007
Fort Dorchester High School

I have been in contact with Fort Dorchester School below is what I have found out thus far:

Timeline:

August 28th

I went to Fort Dorchester High School yesterday and asked for a copy of the syllabus. I was told by guidance no books were being used besides the bible.

After reading the syllabus, I found out the Bible and it Influence was being used.

The syllabus constantly refers to the class as being historical rather than literature. If it is comparative literature – where are the other religious books?

Homework assignments are only listed on Intounch for those students. The teacher’s webpage does not even acknowledge her teaching the course.

Did a little research on the Bible and it Influence and have ordered a copy. The Bible and it Influence is currently being knocked by the Christian community as a possible anti-Christian material.

Finally got a hold of Michael Casey. He told me a few things that causes me concern

The teacher Laura Knotts husband works at Fort Dorchester High School. My son had him last year. I am told he runs prayer meetings and puts religious sayings on the board. Mr. Casey told me they picked his wife since she has more “polish” than her husband.

The teacher has not taken the course offered by Bible and it Influence makers to avoid the pitfalls of separation of church and state.

This is a pilot program and the curriculum has not been set.

Part of the reason it is not available online is hiding this from the press.

I received a call from Laura Knotts and here is a summary.

They are currently using two curriculums: Bible and it Influence and the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools or NCBCPS.

NCBCPS does not have a textbook (I will address later).

The teacher stated “I want a class of children who have never read the bible so that they may discover what a truly sacred book it is”.

The curriculum is still being set.

I was welcome to discuss further.

I did some research on NCBCPS website and others. The textbook has been pulled and is no longer available. Other websites (bibleinterpt.com) has blasted the book due to errors (earth only 6000 years old and plagiarism).

A copy of the curriculum is not available to the general public nor will the list the schools using it.

I received an email from Laura Knotts on that date.

August 31

State Board of Education

I spoke to Kathy Jones at 803.734.0790. Her boss is Ms. Helena Tillar at 803.734.8394

In June, the SC legislature passed bill S726 (see 726 doc) that in essence states that schools would be able to teach the bible and the board of education must set standards. Currently, 10 districts in SC offer either a bible course or early release of students for religious training. I am also including a state budget (S726.pdf) for you to view.

Currently, the State Board of Education (SBOE) has not developed standards or instructional materials. It states that this class must follow under the English elective standards (http://ed.sc.gov/topics/curriculumstds/). Ms. Jones stated further that SBOE role is to develop overall guidelines all schools must follow. They are not responsible for picking the curriculum as this is the function of the District (Dorchester School District Two Administrative Offices 102 Green Wave Blvd. Summerville, SC 29483 (843) 873-2901 Michael Casey http://www.dorchester2.k12.sc.us/education/district/district.php?sectionid=10198 ). The SBOE meets next 9/12/07 and are expecting an update from the group; however, it will probably be that they are working on it. The individual in charge of the committee is Dr. Britt Blackwell from Rock Hill, SC (Dr. J. Britt Blackwell, Circuit 16 - expires 12/31/2010, Next county: Union 2020 Cavendale Drive, Rock Hill, South Carolina 29732 Phone: 803-327-2001 (office); 803-329-0495 (home) ; 803-327-9843 (fax) blackwellpa@comporium.net).

The SBOE has advised me that I have every legal right to view the curriculum in written form and that the syllabus is not acceptable since it is just the table of contents of the book. I am also allowed to view any and all materials the school plans to use. I have called and requested an appt. at Ft. Dorchester High School to obtain this information.

On 8/31 I sent via the school contact form the following letter to Mr. Casey:

Mr. Casey,

It was wonderful speaking to you the other day. I have obtained a copy of the Bible and its Influence. I do have some additional questions.

What version of The Bible and its influence is Fort Dorchester School working with?

The syllabus in actuality is the table of contents from the book, I would like to obtain a written copy of the curriculum which will specify how it will be taught, what will be taught, any and all materials that will be used which will include but is not limited to websites, books, video/audio presentations, and speakers with their bio's

Since the state board has not approved standards for the class, I would like to see the districts written standards.

I appreciate this and will of course pay any applicable fees for copying and mailing.

If you have any questions- please feel free to call me.

I have not heard back from him.

On 8/31/07 I sent the email entitled Textbook to the teacher. As of this date, I have been ignored.

Also, I spoke to Courtney Bunao the assistant principle at Fort Dorchester High School, I asked her for a copy of the curriculum, standards for the class, to view the materials. She promised to get back to me.

September 2,

I sent the following email via Dorchester II School districts contact form:

Can you please advise me on what the procedure is to speak before the school board?

Additionally, I would like to see all of the minutes from all open and closed door sessions regarding the debate and the class: The Bible and Its Influence.

Thank you

Nancy Seufert

I also sent an email to two members of the school board : It states as follows:Ms. Townsend and Mr. Blake,

I'm a parent of two children that are enrolled in Fort Dorchester High School; and have some concerns as a parent and tax payer about the class “The Bible and Its Influence” approved by the board last month. I've been in contact with both the high school and the district regarding the class and curriculum, and those contacts have left me with more concerns than when I first heard of the approval. Because of the nature of the class and the problems it can cause the district; I hope you'll both consider looking into the matter and make sure the law and rules are being followed.

For starters, I've gotten mixed responses when asking about the class and its curriculum. Some have been open and somewhat helpful, but some have been negative and acted like I had no business even asking questions. I really don't think "under a veil of secrecy" is the best way to run our public schools. But even the helpful responses have left me with the impression the school isn't ready to teach the class, but class has already started.

In discussions with Ms. Knotts and Mr. Casey (who were helpful); I've been told:

That the curriculum has not been set, but class has started.

That the Bible Literacy Project (BLP) textbook "Bible and Its Influence" will be used; but there will be some incorporation of the material from the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) textbook “The Bible in History and Literature”.

BLP (http://www.bibleliteracy.org) hosts teacher training on how to teach a legal public high school class, but the teacher hasn't taken any and won't be required to in the future.

Concerning Item 1: That the curriculum has not been set, but class has started -

I called the state board of education and was told they are currently working on standards for this course. However, the district is responsible for the standards and implementing them. When talking to Mr. Casey, it appears that either these standards do not exist or are not available. I received the same answer regarding the curriculum – which it either does not exist or it is not available. Also, the homework for this class is restricted to Intouch rather than the public website that Ms. Knots has.

This concerned me in a number of ways: It seems to me that the standards and curriculum should come before starting the course. Since the state law says "the state board of education must develop and adopt academic standards and appropriate instructional materials"; how can our district be legally teaching a course when the state board hasn't developed the standards and materials?

Also, you approved the class at the August 13th meeting and this year’s school session started on the 20th. This seems a short time to get textbooks purchased, a teacher assigned and trained, and the curriculum set. At a board candidate’s forum last year, some of those that are currently on the board stated they believed in creationism rather than evolution, I even heard one state they felt evolution shouldn't be taught in the schools. The rush, the secrecy, and the prior comments give me the feeling an agenda is being pushed instead of real interest in our children's education. Is that what we should expect for the future?

What finally concerns me is that I discovered this upon a brief look at the materials I have in my possession (Bible and Its Influence edition 1, The Bible in History and Literature, and sources from the internet) for 5 days. I am in no means an expert in the field of theocracy or a constitution expert nor do I pretend to be. How could the learned people from the board - which does include teachers - not spot these and other glaring problems?

Concerning 2: That the Bible Literacy Project (BLP) textbook "Bible and Its Influence" will be used; but there will be some incorporation of the material from the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) textbook “The Bible in History and Literature” -

In my research I have found that the BLP program (http://www.bibleliteracy.org) appears to be running into less legal problems than the NCBCPS program (http://www.bibleinschools.net). But neither seems to be without issues. For starters, both seem to be more driven by the agenda of getting the Bible into public schools than concerned about the overall education provided in our schools. Both also appear to be run and backed by well-funded religious groups with the same agenda.

I find it troubling to allow well-funded religious pressure groups to initiate Bible classes in our public schools. Public schools exist to serve the widest possible range of students from many faith perspectives or none. The beautiful thing about living in America is that we all have the freedom to practice or not practice our faith. Can we come to expect that our schools will have a decisive Christian flair?

I've been looking over the BLP textbook “The Bible and Its Influence”; and just in initial glance found some problems:

· The book sometimes blurs the line between academic study and scripture promotion. An example of this is a chapter on Proverbs includes this assertion: “In 1992, the Associated Press evaluated 4000 self-help books” and “concluded that the oldest and best of the how-to’s of happiness is in the oldest self-help book the Bible.”

· A textbook should offer objective study about both the positive and negative uses of the Bible and from my read of it this book does not do so. I do not see incidents such as the Salem Witch trials discussed. Would that not be just as helpful as the study of the 10 Commandments?

· One of the projects in the BLP book is to investigate Natural Law. I am afraid of the ramifications of this study. This comes after the reading of Leviticus which talks about the mosaic laws which does include homosexuality. I am sure you are aware of the recent hate crimes concerning homosexuals in SC. I am also aware there are several openly gay students at Fort. I am concerned how this could cause additional uproar. How will sensitive topics such as abortion and homosexuality be handled in the class? What after reading the 10 commandments a student asks does abortion violate the Thou shall not kill commandment. Will the student be told yes or will the student be told that under our laws that a fetus that can not live outside the womb is a medical procedure? I can come up with numerous examples of this that is in our news everyday. These subjects are bound to come up. I feel it is unfair to both the teacher and the students if a policy is not in place to handle these questions.

· Also, many changes have occurred to the BLP book The Bible and Its Influence in response to criticism that the book is anti-Christian. I am concerned that if BLP is folding to the pressure of the Christian community - again – what is the true agenda? Is it to provide a high education or is to indoctrinate children?

I have also been looking over the NCBCPS textbook and curriculum and have problems with it also:

· This curriculum is currently being litigated in 2 cases I am aware of in TX.

· The curriculum, in actuality, is nothing more than a slanted bible class. There are many blatant examples of what I am speaking about. The most troubling is Unit 6 which is about God’s Law and how states have incorporated it. An example out of the text is comparing the 10 commandments to KY’s law. For the example of the 2nd commandment “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” the publisher uses KY statue KRS 531.010 which prohibits the distribution of pornography. I don’t know about what you were taught in Sunday school but I was told that meant we should not worship any images of false gods. I hardly feel this is an accurate interpretation.

· Also in this same unit as an assignment: “Based upon the class discussion, write one page paper outlining what effect there would be to on our American way of life if the legislatures were to adopt the Mosaic Civil and Moral laws in their entirety”. Based upon Leviticus and the laws in effect at that time – I feel it would be a real detriment to go down this road. Again the book is filled with these types of items.

· Additionally, although NCBCPS disavows a financial connection of Wall Builders, it uses many of the items from Wall Builders. As you are probably aware, Wall Builders has come under some fire about attributing statements to our founding fathers that do not exist.

When I have asked for a copy of the curriculum, I was given the course syllabus. The course syllabus that was passed out to the board and to parents is the table of contents to “The Bible and Its Influence”, this syllabus does not show anything regarding how the class will be taught. How can the board pass a motion based upon the table of contents? What other information was given to assist the board in making this decision? Finally, what other materials (Textbooks and other books, Video/Audio presentations, Handouts, and Speakers) will be used? Who is responsible to find out if these items will conform to the law in this matter?

Concerning 3: BLP (http://www.bibleliteracy.org) hosts teacher training on how to teach a legal public high school class, but the teacher hasn't taken any and won't be required to in the future

My discussions with Ms. Knotts have been helpful and I have no urge to judge a teacher by their religious affiliation and don't expect each class to be under a microscope. But with only about a week passing between approval of the class and school starting; I can't help but ask - what kind of training does Ms. Knotts possess, did the district advertise for the position, how did Ms. Knotts come to be chosen, and why isn't the BLP teacher course being considered? And with the board approving a course without a curriculum; what guarantees do I or any other parent have that Ms. Knotts viewpoint will not be shown?

Besides those three big and in-depth concerns, I also wanted to address what I would call "troubling remarks" in discussions with Ms. Knotts and Mr. Casey:

The first remark was by Mr. Casey. He stated this was a pilot program and he has avoided and would continue to avoid questions from the press. My question to you is why? If there is nothing wrong with this class, why hide from public scrutiny?

The other remark was from Ms. Knotts. Ms Knotts stated to me that it was her hope that a child who had never read the stories of the bible would come away with the knowledge of how “sacred” this book was. While I might agree the bible is sacred, that is my personal opinion. I would hope a teacher would not be expressing that to students.

I hope you can see that these are some important concerns that involve the law, money matters, and equal access for the district.

Concerning the law - Was the board’s approval and starting of a class without a curriculum before the state board has even set standards even legal? Without those standards is our district just begging to become a court case instead of focusing on the education of our children?

Concerning money - I was at a meeting recently where Mr. Stoudenmire gave an in-depth view of the district's budget; and although it wasn't stated; it certainly seems that our funds are stretched thin. With money an issue, how can we afford spending on a class without a curriculum? Also, if all these issues land the district in court, how much will it cost and can we afford it?

Concerning equal access – It states in the new elective course for the Bible and It’s Influence that this class will “Improve(ing) performance in school and preparing students for college-level work”. What other classes are offered at Fort Dorchester High School that will allow my children equal access if I do not allow them to take this one?

Please look into these matters.

September 4th

I received an email back from Harry Blake it states as follows: Ms. Seufert,

Thanks for your concerns about the Bible Studies in our Schools. I'm sure when something new is introduced there will be and should be questions.

You have very valid points and I thank you for pointing them out. I'm sure that the answers to your questions will be taken seriously and addressed once

we get all the answers. This may take time to answer all of your concerns but I'm sure they are being worked on at this present time.

Again I say Thanks

Harry Blake

September 5th

I received copy of the school board minutes

September 7th

Courtney Bunao, assistant principle at Fort Dorchester High School has just called me back regarding the questions I placed before her regarding curriculum and standards. She stated the following:

No standards are in place.

This is a pilot program so therefore no curriculum is in place.

No other materials except the BLP The Bible and Its Influence are being used. I explained that both the Kings James Version of the Bible and handouts from NCBCPS The Bible in History and Literature were being used. Ms. Bunao states she is unaware of that.

Ms. Bunao further stated, when asked what other class would assist my son in AP test that “besides the bible, there is no other class that would offer that.”

When asked if I could view any and all materials, Ms. Bunao stated that no other materials are being used despite the fact it is published on their invitation for the class.

I also had an interview with the post and courier Mindy Hagen. According to Mindy, she went into the classroom today and interviewed the teacher, students, and principal.

According to the teacher, she will only be using the BLP book The Bible and Influence. I provided the reporter with a copy of the email from the teacher stating otherwise. I have enclosed a copy for you to update. According to the reporter the teacher is on the state board to write the standards. At present time, they are using the standards for an English Elective. I told the reporter of the conversation with the assistant principal otherwise.

Long story short, looks like the article will appear this weekend. I told the reporter it is my intention to attend every school board meeting and speak out against this. I told her I had not invited others to protest, but I would be writing letters to every organization in the area asking for support – which I will begin to write this weekend. Here is a link to the original article: http://www.charleston.net/news/2007/aug/14/district_board_adopts_bible_course12960/

I can provide anyone one who wants a copy of all the materials and emails backing this up.

Laura_Kasman
Sep 7 2007
Fort Dorchester Bible class

Wow, Nancy! Thank you for all your hard work getting this information and for posting the contact information as well. We'll be watching what the Charleston School District does as a result of the state law change as well.

The statement by the teacher that she wants the students to come away from the class having learned that the bible is sacred is particularly troubling. Whether or not the teacher reveals this to the class, it is not a legal goal for a class in a public school. She can teach that kind of class in Sunday school.

Thank you for keeping us posted!

laura

n-atheist
Sep 7 2007

I think you could sue the Dorchester Schools on three grounds:

* The elected members of the board and the teachers in the school are part of the government. They cannot use even their limited power as government employees to proselytize their religious views on your children. That is an invasion of YOUR right of freedom of religion and your right to raise your children according to your own religious beliefs.

* They are using some of the tax money that you have paid to the county to spread their religious views among the children of other people. Even if you're kids were not among them, you would be able to complain that this is an unconstitutional use of tax money according to the non-establishment clause.

* Finally, the schools only have a limited amount of money to spend. Their illegal use of some resources to proselytize and indoctrinate children with their religious viewpoint on the Bible denies your children of the education they really need.

Perhaps a national organization like the FFRF or ACLU could help you.

Nancy000
Sep 7 2007

I contacted ACLU and because we live in SC they wont take the case. I have contacted AU and they have sent a letter to the school. I can send copies of the letter next week to anyone who wants it.

I contacted American Atheist and they are looking into it.

What I really need is support. Dorchester II School board meets every other Monday in Summerville. I plan on going to every meeting I can. I will only get 3 to 5 minutes to speak. I plan to make a brief statement and start asking questions. Any ideas are appreciated. Anyone who can come is welcome.

Although the Post & Courier will try to be unbiased, I think I have found a friend in Mindy Hagen. She covers the school beat. Anyone who is able to write the Post and keep this subject going to bear pressure on the school is needed.

I will admit, my writing skills are lacking. I know this group has intelligent, well versed people. Please gather your talents in this cause.

Nancy000
Sep 8 2007
Additional information

I have been able to get copies of both books (BLP The Bible and Its Influence) and the NCBCPS The Bible in Literature and History). Currently, I have loaned them to AU and will get them back on Monday. Anyone who wants to see them, please let me know. I can also bring them to the next meeting.

Nancy

Nancy000
Sep 9 2007
Dorchester School Board Meeting

The school board has it reguarly scheduled meeting on Monday Sept. 10th at 7P. The meeting is at Dorchester School District Two Administrative Offices 102 Green Wave Blvd. Summerville, SC 29483 (843) 873-2901 in their boardroom. These meetings are open to the public. There is only 2 times a person can speak w/o being on the agenda. Since this issue is not on the agenda - comments can not be made until the end. School board meetings state you can name names of individuals.

I plan to make a brief statement and ask several questions. I also plan to hand out afterward some documentation. If anyone wants to come, please do.

bflosue
Sep 10 2007

Here's the link to today's P&C article about this class:

http://www.charleston.net/news/2007/sep/10/school_backs_bible_course15438/

Larry_Carter_Center
Sep 10 2007
Nancy000 is a fine writer & posted an excellent diary so

Nancy, keep up the good work.

You are a fine writer & your diary here so far is most useful.

Sorry to hear the ACLU turned you down, for any reason.

Barry Lynn was quoted well in the P&C this morning.

Sue & I are coming to the school board meeting & I will speak at the end, after you have spoken. I'm a Life Member of American Atheists, as well as eager to help all SHL members here in the lowcountry.

I'll contact Ed Kagin & Ellen Johnson & urge them to see how bad this problem is here in SC. FFRF also takes cases, but I'm not sure if they want to drive/fly all the way here from Madison, WI. Sue is from Madison.

Easier for Ed from OH & Ellen from NJ.

Don't feel alone. I've been to the US Sup Ct. I know how "out there" you might be feeling. You have a fine SHL community behind you.

And our meeting in Gage Hall Sunday spills into & out from the Unitarian Universalist community which is for diversity & has no creed.

Ultimately, this problem is 3 fold: one, extreme bias of the teacher to pretend any book is "sacred." That is a religious test in and of itself.

two, taxpayer funding, from state & federal funds along with the school district which are being mis-used UNCONSTITUTIONALLY "under color of law."

three, if the school board continues to lie & pretend it "is just a pilot program" when, in fact the plan all along is to present religious materials as if they were historical & literatary, is no different than the Dover,PA case. You've done a good job so far to show that the personalities involved all have an establishment of religion agenda. Such favoritism is on the borderline if not already crossed the 1983 & 1985 civil rights law prohibiting "invidious discriminatory animus."

The school board may pretend to be nice to American Atheists & Secular Humansts & Jews, but spending money for these bibles & pseudo texts are the weapons & the hate will come when parents & taxpayers "just say no to theocracy."

Take a look at the P&C comments so far, at least 3 bigots are already taking shots at Black Christians who are upset at the White Christian mythology still being taught.

See you at the school board meeting, In peace, Larry 926-1750 cell

bflosue
Sep 10 2007

Americans United has issued a statement:

http://www.au.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=23961.0&dlv_id=13601&JServSessionIdr007=1ny2jy4qf8.app13a

September 10, 2007

Americans United Urges South Carolina School District To Discontinue Biased Bible Class

Dorchester County Officials Should Steer Clear Of Materials That Promote One Faith Perspective Over Others, Church-State Watchdog Group Says

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has urged a South Carolina public school district to drop a new course on the Bible, arguing that the class fails to meet constitutional requirements.

The elective at Fort Dorchester High School is based in part on two textbooks that Americans United charges promote a mostly Christian interpretation of the Bible – The Bible and Its Influence published by the Bible Literacy Project and material produced by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools.

“The purpose of public school classes should be education, not indoctrination,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “Some of the material being proposed for classroom use in South Carolina reads more like a Sunday School lesson than objective academics.”

In a letter to Dorchester school officials, Americans United Litigation Counsel Aram A. Schvey wrote, “Because the Bible has considerable significance in Western literature and history, there can be a proper role for it in a public-school curriculum. But there are enormous risks in offering these kinds of courses. We therefore urge you to cancel the Bible class.

“If you nonetheless decide to offer it,” Schvey continued, “we ask that it be taught using a secular and academically rigorous curriculum, instead of the heavily flawed texts that are presently being used.”

The Sept. 7 letter notes that portions of the curriculum produced by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools have already been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, and use of the group’s materials is currently being challenged in a federal lawsuit in Odessa, Texas.

It also points out that academic experts have criticized the Bible Literacy Project’s The Bible and Its Influence for pushing a Christian perspective, lacking rigorous scholarship and relying on writers and editors who are not biblical scholars.

The Americans United letter was sent to Dorchester School District Superintendent Joseph Pye, Principal Jim Atkinson of Fort Dorchester High School and the seven members of the district’s Board of Trustees.

The South Carolina legislature has passed a law that instructs the state Department of Education to adopt academic standards and appropriate instructional materials for two optional courses on the Bible: History and Literature of the Old Testament and History and Literature of the New Testament. Similar laws have been passed in Georgia and Texas and have been proposed in other states.

* * * *

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Alex_Kasman
Sep 10 2007
Letter Sent to P&C

Letter sent to Post & Courier:

To the editor:

I share Nancy Seufert's concerns about the new Bible Literacy course being offered at Dorchester County Public Schools ("School backs Bible Course", P&C 9/10/07). She is quoted (or perhaps misquoted) as saying that "school is no place to teach religion". Of course, religious schools are a reasonable place to teach religion, but not public schools. Religious education, like many other things, is something that parents need to provide for their children without expecting the government to do it for them.

The question is: Is this course teaching the Christian religion, or is it simply providing context for important cultural references?

The article quotes teachers and school officials suggesting that it is the latter. Consequently, we are told, they are not in violation of the Constitutional provisions protecting religious minorities and requiring that the government stay out of the business of teaching and promoting religions.

Unfortunately, the quotes in your article from students tell a very different story.

Simone Charron says of the class "[w]e view the Bible as just another big history book". If she is right, then the class treats the divinity of Christ and the parting of the Red Sea as being equivalent to George Washington being the first president of the United States. But the Bible is not equivalent to a history textbook written by historians based on historical evidence. The Bible is a religious text of unknown authorship whose stories are believed by those with faith in certain religions.

The article also says "Junior Ethan Jones said students learn about evolution in science class, so it's only fair that school also exposes them to biblical theories of creationism." In contrast to what the administration suggests, this sounds exactly as if the class is being used to "sneak" religious education into this public school.

I do think religious education is important, and hope that the parents of these students find a way to provide it. But it should not be done with tax money, and it should not be done with the limited resources at a public school which are intended for all students regardless of their religious beliefs.

Alex Kasman

Nancy000
Sep 10 2007
Message of thanks

I do want to thank each and everyone of you. I had an interview on Channel 2 which they cut out most of it. The school board meeting went as expected. No answers! Larry & I talked to a reporter at the Journal Scene (John Robbins) so hopefully we will get some coverage.

On another note. AA offered to file suit on this case. They will need a local attorney of record and any and all persons interested to join in. I personally hate to go this route; however, I am willing if the school board does not answer our questions.

I will bring any and all materials to Sunday's meeting.

Nancy000
Sep 11 2007
Post and Courier Article

Here is the link for today's article

http://www.charleston.net/news/2007/sep/11/dist_keeping_bible_course15541/

reasonwithme
Sep 11 2007

Thanks for your work and dedication. I would love to attend those meetings but I'm working the late shift all this month. I'd be more than happy to contribute anything that I can to this cause.

Nancy000
Sep 14 2007
News article

There is an article in the Summerville Journal: http://www.journalscene.com/articles/2007/09/14/community_news/040914aabiblejr.txt

I called the district yesterday to be added to the agenda. At that time, I was told I could not. Never was I told of a special meeting. I will get more information later today.

Nancy000
Sep 17 2007
Workshop for tonight

Here is a link for the Post and Courier article for today: http://www.charleston.net/news/2007/sep/17/district_beginning_look_at_how_pay_new_s16218/

The Dorchester District 2 school board workshop begins at 5 tonight in the district's curriculum and instruction building, 102 Green Wave Blvd., Summerville. I plan to attend and will give an update to any one who would like to be kept abreast of the situation.

Nancy000
Sep 18 2007
P&C allows Alex letter

Here is the link: http://www.charleston.net/news/2007/sep/18/bible_religion_or_context16262/

bflosue
Sep 18 2007

Great letters by Alex and Nancy!

I did notice the P&C decided NOT to accept reader comments on this page...

Nancy000
Sep 19 2007
Summerville Journal Scene

Here is an article from Summerville paper: http://www.journalscene.com/articles/2007/09/18/education/360919eddd2bible.txt

The reporter did a better job than the P&C covering Reeves rant. Trust me, it was a good show he put on.

I hope to give an update to those interested.

A0EOS
Oct 29 2007
Lee County Florida

Back in 96 I lived in S. Florida and due to work and pleasure I would go back and forth between Miami and Ft. Myers (Lee County) often and found out about this new breakthrough of the local right wingers who managed to get bible classes approved by the county board.

By hearing recently of the same thing being done here in Dorchester county I looked it up as I did not follow the story in later years.

It seems as a sequence of trials followed this turmoil that should make it easier for those parents here to ban religious indoctrination in public schools.

Here is an article I found on Lee County, FL.

http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=1357

Koz :lol:

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