Originally created 05/28/03

Aiken evangelist touts course based on Bible



AIKEN - Aiken County school officials are considering the implementation of a Bible-related social studies class in its high schools after hearing the request of a local evangelist at its board meeting Tuesday night.

The Rev. Dean Cartin, of Aiken, said the elective course, which is being taught in 32 other states, has been certified by the state school board and is being used in at least one South Carolina school district.

The course, which will not be mandatory, is based on the Bible and how it relates to the country's laws, morals and culture, the Rev. Cartin said. It was devised by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, a North Carolina-based organization established in 1995.

"The curriculum is to educate high school students on how the Bible has been a center part of our society," the Rev. Cartin said. "It's so students can gain an understanding of what the country and our moral system was founded on."

Frank Roberson, Aiken County's associate superintendent for instruction, said the school administration will take a look at the proposal and make a recommendation to the board on whether the program should be introduced on a trial basis.

"There may not be room in our existing curriculum," he said. "Our policy looks to the home and to church for the typical religious education of children. They have done an excellent job."

The Rev. Cartin, one of hundreds of volunteers across the nation who have pushed for the new curriculum, said his request is a simple one.

"I'm not just a minister gung-ho saying I want you to teach the word," he said after the board meeting. "It's about education, not indoctrination."

The program's cost might range from $40,000 to $50,000 per school, he said. Acknowledging the school district's financial crisis caused by reduced state funding, the Rev. Cartin said he would be willing to go to the private sector for money to support the cause.

Redcliffe Elementary School teacher Jason Fulmer, South Carolina's Teacher of the Year, said he doesn't oppose the idea.

"There's a fine line," he said. "Just because it's offered doesn't mean it's pushing certain beliefs on someone. We should all have options in life."

Reach Sara Bancroft at (803) 279-6895 or sara.bancroft@augustachronicle.com.