Originally created 09/17/02

The right 'choice'



Often you find that people who are all for "choice" on the matter of terminating pregnancies are on the other side of the choice issue when it comes to teaching about the Bible in public schools.

Well, if Bible lessons can't be taught in the schools, what about letting them be taught outside the schools? That's what the Released-Time program being promoted by the Christian Learning Centers of Augusta is all about. The Richmond County School Board tentatively approved the plan on a pilot basis for Barton Chapel Elementary School pupils.

Now that the Learning Centers has agreed to pick up off-campus liability costs, final approval is all but certain.

Starting in January, fourth and fifth graders, with their parents' permission, will be able to walk next door to the Broadway Baptist Church to study a non-denominational Christian, Bible-based curriculum for one hour a week.

Why this is controversial is difficult to fathom. Learning about the Bible and Christianity - which are at the root of our system of values - should be as important a part of the education experience as any other subject.

Moreover, in addition to being voluntary, the Bible class program is free, legal and independent of any public school system. Students electing not to be a part of it will remain at school in recess, physical education class or study hall so Bible pupils won't be missing out on any other critical class curricula.

Yet there was resistance from some school trustees to going ahead with the program. Trustee John Seitz' effort to table the issue for further discussion rightfully failed. The program was recommended by the school board's long-range planning committee following weeks of debates and discussions. Why delay any longer?

Also, this kind of program is not unprecedented even for the CSRA. Schools in Aiken and Edgefield counties have allowed it for several years with no negative repercussions.

If it is also successful in Richmond County, why not expand it to other schools in the area? There are a lot worse things being learned at many public schools than biblical values.