Christian school criticized over dinosaur test

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GREENVILLE, S.C. — It was labeled “4th grade science quiz. Dinosaurs: Genesis and the Gospel.”

Joy Hartsell (left), board chair of Blue Ridge Christian Academy in Greenville, S.C., and Dianna Barker, director, talk about a recent 4th grade science quiz that caused controversy on the Internet .  KEN OSBURN/THE GREENVILLE NEWS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
KEN OSBURN/THE GREENVILLE NEWS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Joy Hartsell (left), board chair of Blue Ridge Christian Academy in Greenville, S.C., and Dianna Barker, director, talk about a recent 4th grade science quiz that caused controversy on the Internet .

Eighteen questions. The first four were true or false.

The earth is billions of years old. A lopsided pencil mark circled false.

Dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, another circle: false.

It went on from there, testing students on the beginning of the world according to creationism, the belief that the literal interpretation of the first book of the Bible explains it all. Both were marked correct.

Before long, the quiz was posted on the social news Web site Reddit, unleashing a firestorm of criticism on Blue Ridge Christian Academy, a tiny private Christian school in northern Greenville County.

In what board chairwoman Joy Hartsell says shows God is at work in the world, the controversy might be what saves the school from closing.

ABOUT SIX WEEKS AGO, parents were told that the school would close May 31 because the founder and major donor would no longer make up the loss in operating expenses, said Diana Baker, the director.

“We may have found the path to get the money,” Hartsell said Friday.

So far, about $10,000 toward the $200,000 needed to stay open next fall has been received and more checks arrive in the mail every day, Baker said.

In addition, dozens of people have called, e-mailed or written letters to school officials, critics and supporters alike. One Christian organization in town sent Baker flowers.

More than 3,600 posts about the test have been made on Reddit, most of them harshly critical.

“I went to a school like this in South Carolina. Now I’m a college professor who spends his days trying to undo the damage this rubbish has done,” said one poster.

Another: “I feel bad for this kid once he goes anywhere public and expresses this belief and is ridiculed.”

School leaders were called child abusers, brainwashers and ignorant. One person said they wanted to chop off Baker’s head while another said they hoped the teacher would die a horrible death.

Jill and E.J. Bird founded the school nine years ago after they moved from Connecticut to a home at the Cliffs.

Baker said the Birds had kept the school afloat since its founding, making up annual shortfalls of as much as $500,000.

The school carries $2.8 million in debt, Baker said. It has about 150 students in grade kindergarten through 12.

THE ORIGINAL REDDIT post was made by a friend of a parent whose child is in the fourth grade at the academy. Pher Reinman, a stagehand and photographer who grew up in Greer, said he posted it thinking, “people will get a kick out of this.”

He said the reaction surprised him.

“I think it’s opened a lot of people’s eyes,” he said. “They are entitled to their beliefs but it’s incredibly wrong. It definitely didn’t happen like this.”

The original post did not name the school, but it didn’t take too much deduction once someone said a small Christian school north of Greer, S.C., to find out it was Blue Ridge.

Baker said she learned about it from a board member whose son, a senior, saw something about the controversy on Facebook. The board member asked if this was Blue Ridge. Baker checked with the teacher, who confirmed she gave the test after students watched a DVD produced by Answers in Genesis, which promotes the idea that the Bible states clearly that God created the world in six days, not in a process of evolution extending through millions of years. Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis, also runs the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky.

“This was one slice of one day in our curriculum,” Baker said. “Our school is so much bigger than this. They have unfairly judged what we’re all about.”

Baker said the school teaches all subjects from a Biblical perspective but does not require that students or parents all believe the same thing.

She said students are taught that evolution is a theory. Secular textbooks are used in the older grades, she said.

“Our students are well versed,” said Hartsell, who has three children in the school. “They know evolution. The big bang theory. They are taught what the world believes. We believe the Bible and we teach from that context.”

The school is accredited and the teachers have high academic standards, Baker said. This year’s senior class — eight students in all — are a diverse group who are going on to public and private colleges and studying such disciplines as pre-medicine, missions and education.

Some of the school’s recent financial support has been generated by Ham’s retelling of the controversy on his blog, which within a short period had 70,000 hits, Baker said. His usual number is about 3,000, she said.

Ham visited the school while in the Upstate recently to speak at a convention.

Baker said she did not seek to find out which parent gave out the quiz and in fact doesn’t want to know.

There are 11 children in the school’s one fourth-grade class.

“We want to deal in kindness and unity,” she said. “On the things we disagree with we deal with each other in love and mercy and grace.”

Hartsell said she hopes to announce soon that the school will remain open.

“We have a lot of faith in a big and gracious God,” Baker said.

Reinman said: “Unintended consequences of bringing their shenanigans to light, but I don’t care. I live in California now.”

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Riverman1
86921
Points
Riverman1 05/25/13 - 10:49 pm
9
3
Don't be Dissing Religion

I don’t think it’s wise to make fun of people’s religion. One thing we can all agree on is religion comforts and in some cases provides beneficial guidelines for society. Sheriff Andy even went to church. That’s good enough for me.

OJP
6948
Points
OJP 05/25/13 - 10:52 pm
4
8
What kind of school?

They're not teaching science.

Ms.Anthrope
502
Points
Ms.Anthrope 05/25/13 - 11:09 pm
5
11
name that school.....
Unpublished

GreenvilleSC Indoctrination Center.....
Religion is not about "comforts" it is about "guidelines" to control mass populations of ignorant people.

Riverman1
86921
Points
Riverman1 05/26/13 - 12:12 am
13
5
Ms.Anthrope, I guess those

Ms.Anthrope, I guess those Ten Commandments bother the heck out of you the way "ignorant people" follow them. Which commandment do you think doing the opposite of would be beneficial to society?

scoopdedoop64
2425
Points
scoopdedoop64 05/26/13 - 12:57 am
8
3
Wisdom and Knowledge

At one time long, long ago all the world thought the earth was flat. Those who said it was round were considered dumb and stupid and were punished for teaching differently than the main stream thought. Unless education allows for the flexibility to have different thoughts and conclusions then we can never increase our knowledge. A Christian school teaches from a Christian perspective and also teaches the other schools of thought on a variety of subjects. There is a big difference from a fact that is clear such as 2 plus 2 equals 4 and the theories of origin. It is only the intolerance and arrogance of others that makes it a problem. I support this school and unless someone was there when the world came into existence or can reproduce the existence of a new world on their own then it cannot be a scientific fact that the world evolved rather than was created. I believe in the Bible and that God created the world in 6 24hr days and rested on the 7th. If I am wrong then so be it but since it can not be scientifically proven false (and it hasn't) then I have the right to go on believing it.

GiantsAllDay
9853
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/26/13 - 02:24 am
7
12
These poor children. I hope

These poor children. I hope they turn out ok, I really do. These adults should be locked up for abusing children in such a manner.

carcraft
27035
Points
carcraft 05/26/13 - 04:39 am
9
4
“I went to a school like this

“I went to a school like this in South Carolina. Now I’m a college professor who spends his days trying to undo the damage this rubbish has done,” said one poster. Yep, sure seemed to hurt him intellectually..

Fundamental_Arminian
1849
Points
Fundamental_Arminian 05/26/13 - 04:51 am
10
5
I hope the school survives and thrives

It's good to read that this school is accredited and that all eight of its graduating seniors are ready for college work in such fields as pre-medicine, missions, and education. Evidently the seniors haven't been hurt by their exposure to biblical creationism; in fact, they're likely to become good productive citizens who raise the kind of children our nation needs.

Scoopdedoop64 is right that a biblically based education is a problem only to arrogant, intolerant outsiders. GiantsAllDay's call for locking up the childrens' parents and teachers as if they were guilty of child abuse is typical of what we can expect from the so-called tolerant, free-thinking left. Meanwhile, none of us so-called intolerant, close-minded Christians has called for GiantsAllDay and others of like mind to be locked up for their child-rearing.

Bodhisattva
6466
Points
Bodhisattva 05/26/13 - 05:19 am
5
7
How can they be accredited if
Unpublished

How can they be accredited if they ignore science and history? They say: "The K5 – 12th grade program at BRCA is accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and SACS-CASI (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as part of AdvancED)." ACSI accredits for themselves. A keeper of the faith of sorts. It lost a lawsuit trying to get equal time for "creation science" in college classes. If SACS-CASI considers curriculum in granting accreditation, Blue Ridge's should soon drop to ACSI's only.

Ms.Anthrope
502
Points
Ms.Anthrope 05/26/13 - 05:32 am
5
12
@riverman1
Unpublished

so when will you be stoning to death Mark Sanford for adultery? show that you believe !!!!!
in GOP we trust.......

Ms.Anthrope
502
Points
Ms.Anthrope 05/26/13 - 05:42 am
4
10
@scoopdoop
Unpublished

In some other number system 2 + 2 would equal 11.
Tell me.... do you believe the earth is flat... or ... do you believe the earth is round?
Also, it is so humble of you to tolerate the ignorance promoted by biblical myths. Can it be scientifically proven that there is no tooth fairy? So, then it must be true. There is a tooth fairy.
in GOP we trust.............

seenitB4
90832
Points
seenitB4 05/26/13 - 07:16 am
5
2
OOh what sinners we are..yeh baby

Yesterday I started the best article.....Tiny engines of evolution---millions of years ago phytoplanton powered the explosion of life.......& breaking the brain barrier ....we are in the process of learning.....& that is not a bad thing-----now let us just pretend(non believers) that a savior did light upon this earth many years ago (called Jesus) he knew more because he came from a branier planet....he had to reduce himself to the level of beings on earth to fit in..so to speak...

Anything is possible my friends.....just like the flat earth yall are talking about...we are babes in the woods just trying to fit in the pieces.....if we didn't NEED religion...we wouldn't have it......if it gives solace & benefit to (most) it will be with us & let me say this..

If you were in that tornado last week...I don't think you would be crying for a trilobite to help you.

sa2009Doxie
9
Points
sa2009Doxie 05/26/13 - 07:37 am
5
4
Hmmm -

I was just wondering how people ever learned or survived anything in the days before we thought or taught about evolution and the big band theory. I mean didn't we survive and these were the so called simpler times less crime, hate and all the wonderfully horrible things we have now. Seems the more we so called learn or open ourselves to experience the more problems we create. But thus is our fate.
And why is it that everything from everywhere is tolerated and accepted, in whatever form, as not infringing on peoples rights - unless it deals with God and the Bible ?

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 05/26/13 - 07:45 am
4
9
It may be the God created the
Unpublished

It may be that God created the universe accompanied by a big band??

Ms.Anthrope
502
Points
Ms.Anthrope 05/26/13 - 07:59 am
3
9
yes palmetto1008
Unpublished

he did it that way.....taaaaa ----daaaaaa........
LOL
It is part of the Music Theory .

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 05/26/13 - 08:02 am
8
4
Correct answers!

The earth is billions of years old. A lopsided pencil mark circled false. Correct answer: TRUE!!

Dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, another circle: false. Correct answer: True!!

I challenge anyone to show me where, in the Bible is claims the earth is only 6,000-9,000 years old. It isn't there and the Bible speaks MANY times of a time "Before the foundations of this world" and the "Former times" and "Times of Old". You've GOT to get deeper into the Word of God.

This is just plain PROOF the VAST majority of Churches are NOT teaching God's Truth. HE never said half the stuff MEN teach in Churches. I'm not saying Churches are a BAD thing, but think less about CHURCH and get more into GOD!!

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 05/26/13 - 08:13 am
5
3
@scoopdedoop

I just say to keep in mind that 1 of our days is as a 1000 years and 1000 years as 1 day to God. So; did HE create it in 7 days or 7 thousands years? It certainly could have been the later; which makes more sense to me, using the Bible as a reference.

CobaltGeorge
164620
Points
CobaltGeorge 05/26/13 - 08:39 am
5
2
My GrandGirl

who is in a Baptist Private School in SC told me a few months ago that she could never talk about Dinosaurs because they never existed.

Asked her what she thought?

Answer... God must have had a lot of time on his hands to make all those dinosaurs fossil bones and place them in the ground all over the world.

I Said....Good Girl, keep using your common sense when learning about the Truths and Lies in your life.

Ms.Anthrope
502
Points
Ms.Anthrope 05/26/13 - 08:55 am
3
8
@cobalt....
Unpublished

and of course god had the forethought to put all those fossil fuels into the ground for our benefit when he bestowed on us our automobiles.
LOL....
and you make sure that she "knows" that babies are brought by storks

itsanotherday1
45407
Points
itsanotherday1 05/26/13 - 09:06 am
3
1
It is a PRIVATE school. They

It is a PRIVATE school. They can teach whatever they want and it's none of anyone else's business that isn't paying the tab.

Why do some of you want so much control over others' lives?

Fiat_Lux
15912
Points
Fiat_Lux 05/26/13 - 09:15 am
6
3
How would you atheists like us believers

to ridicule you as ignorant and primitive? It's what we generally think, but with pity and compassion instead of with the ridicule and mockery and outright hatefulness expressed by some of you atheists toward people of faith commenting here on the AC blog-o-sphere.

There is room for evolved human beings to disagree respectfully. The stated policy for commenting requires it. More to the point, courtesy and respect of others is a hallmark of civilized people. Try to keep that in mind when mocking people's faith. The karma for doing otherwise is very, very bad.

Ms.Anthrope
502
Points
Ms.Anthrope 05/26/13 - 09:14 am
4
9
its another....
Unpublished

If that post was meant toward me then listen: I am not seeking control over these myth-believers. I am stating my opinion of the scenario. They can be as stupid as they wish to be. Obviously, you do not like me using my first amendment right of free speech.
.... in GOP we trust .....

Ms.Anthrope
502
Points
Ms.Anthrope 05/26/13 - 09:18 am
4
9
and fiat.....
Unpublished

what of the words marxist, communist, socialist , liars, etc..... which so many posters use here? You republicans are so sensitive to the words "stupid" and "ignorant"
in GOP we trust...........

Fiat_Lux
15912
Points
Fiat_Lux 05/26/13 - 09:25 am
7
3
A hit dog hollers

Who said anything about control? It's about respect, which doesn't appear to have been a lesson taken to heart by some.

The other side of this discussion also can be as stupid as they wish. It is a free country for expressing one's opinion after all. There are many ways of expressing an opinion, and being insulting and disrespectful is not de rigueur.

Moreover, not all things that may be said should be said. Knowing the difference between those two is a mental and interpersonal skill that few commenting here can claim.

Fiat_Lux
15912
Points
Fiat_Lux 05/26/13 - 09:30 am
7
3
Misanthrope, I'm not actually a republican

Like so many lefty libs, you lump all republicans together with conservatives and throw all conservatives into the republican party. It would be worth your while to learn some of the differences between those two very broad, diverse groups.

For instance, not all conservatives are Christians and not all Christians, by a very long shot, are conservatives. It really is nothing more than bigotry to lump all of them together.

Mistakes are easy to make. Clinging to one is foolishness.

Fiat_Lux
15912
Points
Fiat_Lux 05/26/13 - 09:33 am
4
2
And now,

it's off to church I go.

Have a pleasant day, and may God bless you all with peace, protection and plenty.

Ms.Anthrope
502
Points
Ms.Anthrope 05/26/13 - 09:37 am
3
7
so fiat....
Unpublished

what are you?
you call me a lefty lib....
so I will just assume that you are part of the nincompoop party.
.....in ALMIGHTY NINCOMPOOP we trust.....

GiantsAllDay
9853
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/26/13 - 10:33 am
3
6
God or no god?Life after

God or no god?
Life after death or nothing at all?
Heaven and hell, or nowhere at all?
No one knows these answers for absolute certain, but the good news is I AM GOING TO HEAVEN! The pope himself said so. And no one on earth has a more direct line to god than the holy father himself, right?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/pope-francis-good-atheists_n_33...

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 05/26/13 - 10:10 am
2
0
Some people, ministers and entire churches.....
Unpublished

never get any further into God's Word than "beginners in Sunday School". They are told that God's created the universe and this is emphatically true. They are told that God loves them and this is emphatically true.

But then comes the deeper truths of man's sin and separation from God. The need for repentance and lives of discipline. The truths of why humans were created to fulfill God's Plan. The truths about faith and walking by faith and not sight. The Bible calls this a change in diet as we grow. From the milk of babes to the meat of the Word for adults. The truth of how one can hate sin and love the sinner.

The truth that God is not Santa Claus and will not supply your every material WANT. God is not the welfare department. God, if it is not His Will, may not answer your prayers.

God calls to us today in today's terms, "Man Up", be an adult when it comes to your spiritual life. Don't be one of those "standing in the door of the house of God" preventing others from entering and knowing the truth.

Dinosaurs do not make of God and invalid creator. All things were made by Him and for Him. Nothing that we know to exist or have existed was made by Him. Why they did not survive has many explanations. The Great Deluge for one.

flcracker
137
Points
flcracker 05/26/13 - 10:20 am
4
1
Dinosaur test

Why are some people so shocked when a private, Christian school teaches Christian beliefs?

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