IFAS | Freedom Writer | November/December 1997 | ami.html

Teaching that old-time religion

Opinion by Ami Neiberger

In October 21, 1997 the Lee County, Florida school board decided, in a 3-2 vote, to adopt a New Testament Bible curriculum. Amid intense controversy and concern over legal challenges, and against the advice of counsel, the school board members voted to ad opt a New Testament elective in their public high schools. The Bible curriculum adopted was produced by the Greenboro, North Carolina-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which boasts that its curriculum has been utilized in publi c school districts in 18 states.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and People for the American Way are considering a legal challenge to the curriculum because, by teaching the New Testament as historical truth, the curriculum violates the wall of separation between church and state. Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice has declared that it will defend the school board at no charge.

As a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher, I support Bible study. As an academic, I applaud efforts to better understand the role of religion in history. As an American, who values the religious freedom provided by the separation of church and state, I am regrettably forced to the conclusion that the Lee County curriculum is inappropriate at best, and destructive at worst.

Ami Neiberger, a regular contributor to Freedom Writer, is a freelance writer who writes about history, religion, and politics. You can email her at adnei@mindspring.com.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.