Bible is only book in these classes

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High schools say they are finding Bible classes an increasingly popular student option.

Eight local schools offer them, at least two more in Columbia County could join the list next year, and Richmond County is considering adding more.

Creation of new classes is based on several factors, educators say.

"It depends on student interest and it depends on whether or not schools can fit it into their schedules," said Jene Kinnitt, the curriculum coordinator for language arts in Richmond County. "Sometimes, study skills courses may take precedence over other electives."

Columbia County maintains an 18-student minimum enrollment before any elective course is added, said Rose Carroway, the director of high school student learning.

Both Dr. Kinnitt and Dr. Carroway said they hope more students consider the Bible classes because they often boost a student's academic performance in other areas.

"Based on research, it seems that (Advanced Placement) exams use a lot of biblical allusions," Dr. Kinnitt said. "Students who don't have prior knowledge of the Bible don't do as well on those standardized tests that require critical thinking and analogies to biblical references."

Beyond improved test scores, Dr. Carroway said Bible studies also promote higher-level thinking skills.

"When you read the Bible, and it's a tough read, and try to interpret and understand it, your critical-analysis skills are heightened exponentially," she said. "That's the value of the course."

Biblical knowledge often informs many other topics, educators said.

"I pull examples and have them cite examples of the Bible's impact on literature, movies, music and art," said Donna Cason, a language arts teacher at Greenbrier High who also teaches a Bible class. "It comes up a lot, and some students don't understand the references when they come up because they don't have the background."

Examining the Bible's influence throughout history and on modern society is the basis for the course in Georgia public schools.

During a Wednesday Bible class at Greenbrier, students read passages from Matthew, 1st Corinthians and Ezekiel. They discussed whether Jesus was the culmination of Old Testament prophecies, Christ's inclusion of the Old Testament in his teachings and the centuries of conflict between Christians and Jews.

"I teach it objectively, not subjectively," said Ms. Cason, who considers herself a Christian. "I don't preach and tell them what to believe. It's more of a historical and cultural class."

Josh Klink, a 16-year-old sophomore at Greenbrier, is one of 30 students in his Bible course.

"When I moved here (from Virginia) I stopped going to church," Josh said. "Now I'm going back. I wanted to take a Bible class to kind of relearn what I already knew and to learn even more."

Sean Strasma, a senior, took the course for its academic value.

"I'm really into social studies," he said. "This course gives me a better look at the effect the Bible has had on society and history."

Ms. Cason said she understands the fine line she walks in teaching a course about the Bible .

"You have to constantly remind them that the (school) system is not promoting one thing over another because many are studying it as Scripture, not literature," she said. "I don't want to take that away from the students who feel that way, but at the same time I'm trying to get them to look at it from other viewpoints."

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com

SCHOOLS OFFERING BIBLE COURSES

- Lakeside High

- Hephzibah High

- Westside High

- Greenbrier High

- Evans High

- Josey High

- Butler High

- Glenn Hills High

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GGpap
491
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GGpap 01/09/09 - 04:56 am
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Nothing, absolutely nothing

Nothing, absolutely nothing can convince me that the Bible has any place in public schools unless it is just one of the many other "guide books" that are used in a classroom dedicated to the study of all of the world's major religions. While I recognize the spin that accompanies justification for offering Bible study classes, i.e. the Bible's contribution to literature, the arts, history, society, etc., that is all it is, spin for the benefit of the gullible. The only purpose for the Bible is to indoctrinate and guide the young an old in the Christian religion either openly or surreptitiously; it belongs in the home and the church; not in the classroom! No public school is worthy of taxpayer support if it refuses to keep the Bible out of the classroom. GGpap.

HotFoot
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HotFoot 01/09/09 - 06:46 am
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I took a Bible as Literature

I took a Bible as Literature class in college and enjoyed it immensely. However, I was an English major and it fit well into my liberal arts curriculum. I, like GGpap, believe that our public schools have no business teaching a class devoted to the Bible alone. A class on religious literature which draws from the Buddhist, Jewish, and other traditions would, however, be fantastic--providing the background for those SAT literary allusions and providing some much needed diversity of thought. There is a potent Christian bias in the schools down here, with teachers talking about their faith and making judgments, both blatant and implicit, about other faiths or the lack thereof. Teaching the Bible in a dispassionate, literary critical fashion without crossing into religious instruction is a line I have little confidence every educator can walk.

Martinez
154
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Martinez 01/09/09 - 07:03 am
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I agree the historical and

I agree the historical and literary value of the bible can be taught and have also taken this course in college. My concern is even in a class of highly educated adults, the instructor struggled to prevent those who wanted to participate in the class from a scripture versus education standpoint from taking over. This class only works in a completely safe learning environment. High school is definitely not that place.

thingsneedtochange
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thingsneedtochange 01/09/09 - 08:07 am
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This is a class that these

This is a class that these young adults choose to take. How can it be such a terrible event when they are choosing to study the Bible? Actually when I was in public school in Columbia County we had a daily Bible Story. There is nothing wrong with it and again this is a life choice that these young boys and girls are making. These children need to be supported because they have made a hard decision and one that sets them apart from their peers. Isn't that what we want them to do? I know that is what I want my kids to do.
The people in the US are moving too far away from God and it is a sad thing. The phrase "In God We Trust" is off of our $1 coins and just look around you can't you see that respect, honesty, empathy, and just plain caring about others are lacking terribly. People are extremely materialistic and self-centered today and it is sad to see. Maybe if more people studies a religion and put what they learn into their day to day lives then maybe out society would improve.

kai@reasontostand.org
1
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kai@reasontostand.org 01/09/09 - 08:12 am
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John Dewey would be proud of

John Dewey would be proud of how far we've come from schools being primarialy vehicles to teach theology (anyone ever stop and wonder why the first schools were held in Churches?) to purely secular institutions designed to teach "unbiased" facts. The trouble is, a person is not fully educated apart from discipline and moral instruction and without a codified set of standards you end up with anarchy. Even so, I don't think the Bible should be taught in public school for the simple reason that I hate to see something so good trashed so throughly just to keep the secularists at bay by being "objective" (which really just means they do what our deist forefathers did) and butchering the texts in the process.

deeo1055@yahoo.com
0
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deeo1055@yahoo.com 01/09/09 - 08:20 am
0
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The Bible is the ONLY book

The Bible is the ONLY book that explains completely what is going on RIGHT NOW. Man's knowledge is fine, but when the current world system comes crashing down, only the blindest of the scoffers wont see how accurate the Bible is because things did not happen "my way". What good is any human book whose subject becomes antiquated and passes away--God has offered, best to seriously consider his offer.

iletuknow
8
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iletuknow 01/09/09 - 08:31 am
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He loves you and he needs

He loves you and he needs money.....

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 01/09/09 - 08:41 am
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Somehow I knew this article
Unpublished

Somehow I knew this article would upset all these "open minded" liberals. What happened to "acceptance" and "tolerance." You would be surprised at how many students, even here in the good ole Bible belt, know next to nothing about the Bible. Also, remember it is an ELECTIVE and students WANT to take it. Ironically, liberals do not support freedom of choice in this case.

christian134
1
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christian134 01/09/09 - 09:04 am
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crackertroy the only

crackertroy the only acceptance and tolerance would be forthcoming if the schools offered courses in the history of the Occult as well as study of the Koran...That is what would be acceptable...It is just the Bible that tends to set the masses off...The way the world is proceeding wonder why it is so gosh awful to have the Bible studied and in the process some teen just might assimilate something that is good for him/her...The alternative is the same ole' video games, sick movies, nasty language as well as an increasing fascination for sex and drugs...When they are weighed out what possible harm can come from the teens taking the Bible course?

HotFoot
17
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HotFoot 01/09/09 - 09:13 am
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OK, Crackertoy, what if there

OK, Crackertoy, what if there was an elective course on Gay Studies...not trying to sway teenagers to try being gay (as if that's possible) but merely examining gay literature. And imagine that it was an elective that students WANTED to take. Would you feel the same way?

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 01/09/09 - 09:18 am
0
0
I fail to understand why so

I fail to understand why so many people fear the teachings of the Bible. These students choose to take the class, it's not mandatory. Why would we not want our children to learn the historical facts that happened so long ago along with learning moral principals that make us better people. Teaching our children kindness and respect for themselves as well as others isn't a bad thing. If you are a parent and are afraid of the "Christian" influence it might have on your child, then don't allow your child to take the course but don't deny other children the right to explore and learn.

1941
4
Points
1941 01/09/09 - 09:18 am
0
0
How is it that everyone

How is it that everyone belives in the bible? Who wrote the bible? I know that these are susposed to be the words of , god. But who is to say that the company that printed the first bible, took out, put in, whatever they wanted? It is a printed book, where are the orignal papers, that were susposed to be used to print these words?And why is there so many religions, if there was only one god, and we all serve the same god.And if the bible is what it is susposed to be, why is there all this hate aganist some races, and religions.And why is it that some people think they are the chosen people, just because someone printed a book that said it? Where is the original papers. I think that is the reason the world is in the shape that it is in today, because someone printed a book.

InChristLove
22473
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InChristLove 01/09/09 - 09:25 am
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midwestern, the Bible is full

midwestern, the Bible is full of historical events. I fail to see what historical benefit gay literature would have other than to promote gay lifestyle. That's like comparing a US History text book to a gay magazine. Your comparing apple to oranges.

mommie2
2
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mommie2 01/09/09 - 09:31 am
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I am one that is all for

I am one that is all for separation of church and state but it seems like this class is being taught in the correct manner. The Bible is a wonderful book full of all kinds of literary devices and tons of history. As long as it is being taught in that manner it should be allowed. After all, World History teaches the history of all the other World Religions.

justthefacts
21703
Points
justthefacts 01/09/09 - 09:34 am
0
0
mimsy is right on. We should

mimsy is right on. We should ban books.

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 01/09/09 - 09:35 am
0
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mimsy, the answer to all of

mimsy, the answer to all of your questions are answered in the only source of truth known to mankind. The Holy Bible. If people will "read" the "WORD" God will reveal the reason for the WORD. "In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was with GOD and the WORD was GOD.

SandyK2005
1
Points
SandyK2005 01/09/09 - 09:41 am
0
0
"Somehow I knew this article

"Somehow I knew this article would upset all these "open minded" liberals. What happened to "acceptance" and "tolerance."" ---- I'm not a liberal, but consider this crossing the line, as it's not applied to ALL religions. If 18 Buddhists/Muslims/Hindus/Jews/Satanists/Wiccans want a history course on the tenets of their religion, and it's impact on society, does anyone actually believe the school boards will offer it? You can tell in advance what the excuses will be. This is why it's not appropriate. A world religion class == YES!. One religion class == NO! Anything less would be intolerance, especially when Buddhists/Muslims/Hindus/Jews/Satanists/Wiccans are paying tax dollars to fund those very schools. Single faiths have their own houses of worship, with weekly lessons on their scriptures/beliefs. Schools are meant to teach the three "Rs" (which they're doing a poor job of because of political infighting).

mommie2
2
Points
mommie2 01/09/09 - 09:41 am
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I'm sure there are things

I'm sure there are things even a teenage boy could find interesting in the Bible. Check out this website: http://www.ronaldecker.com/and.htm

mommie2
2
Points
mommie2 01/09/09 - 09:43 am
0
0
But the title of the course

But the title of the course is "Bible as literature." They are not looking at it from a faith-based standpoint. They are looking at it as literature and history.

Phish
0
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Phish 01/09/09 - 09:47 am
0
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midwestern, there is an

midwestern, there is an "elective coure on gay studies", That's what we are talking about. The Bible also talks about premarital sex beastiality pornography and incest. Leviticus 20:10 and following, look it up!!!

I_Wear_Lipstick_2
0
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I_Wear_Lipstick_2 01/09/09 - 09:50 am
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It's an elective people.

It's an elective people. Students aren't required to take the course. It's awesome they offer it to high school kids in a public school. I took a Literature class in college where we examined the Bible for a small portion of it. If you have the mentality that the Bible is a very old, historical document - it opens up your mind to understanding why things in the middle east are the way they are today.

InChristLove
22473
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InChristLove 01/09/09 - 09:51 am
0
0
This is not a religion class.

This is not a religion class. This is a study of the Bible and it's historical influence on today's society. Mimsy, to answer your questions, not everyone believes the Bible, the bible was written by men inspired by God, as with anything translated I'm sure there are a few mistranslations when the bible was copied from the original language to English but those changes do not alter the core belief Christians have and you asked why there is so much hate in the word. Well, we are all sinful and until you come to know Christ and accept him as your savior then you are governed by the sinfulness of this world. As Christians we are suppose to try and live like Christ and how he taught us through reading his Word (the Bible). We aren't perfect and that's why we go to church and study the Bible. The world is as it is today because we are a lost nation, plain and simple.

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 01/09/09 - 09:51 am
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0
When we pray, we speak to

When we pray, we speak to GOD. When we read "The Word," God speaks to us. The fear of studying the Bible is derived from the fear of the truth. And too mimsy, "How is it that everyone belives in the bible?" Obviously everyone does not believe in the Bible, but wise people will study the Bible so that they can understand the reasons of GOD and build their faith in GOD. THE "WORD" is infallible.

soldout
1280
Points
soldout 01/09/09 - 09:54 am
0
0
Why does the Bible or Jesus

Why does the Bible or Jesus upset so many people. The answer is simple; only the truth upsets people, lies don't. It creates fear once we know that we may really have to answer to someone or suffer consequences for our actions. The liberal mind is always angry because of working so hard every day to believe that they are the highest power in the universe and all they see fell in place by accident. It is a very very hard life to live.

noway
201
Points
noway 01/09/09 - 09:56 am
0
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How can you be sure that a

How can you be sure that a teacher is not preaching? The teacher in the article sounds like she is doing the job as it was meant to be done, but are ALL of the others? I doubt it. Also, inChristlove, you obviously cannot separate literature from scripture, as you think the class is teaching morals. It's supposed to teach literature. I am totally against teaching the bible in the schools. The point is separation of church and state, it has nothing to do with "fearing Christianity or the Bible" as other readers are assuming. If I wanted my child to study the bible, then I would send them to a Christian School. Yes, it's an elective that CHILDREN, not adults, are "choosing", but we are still paying for it and it shouldn't be in the schools.

mommie2
2
Points
mommie2 01/09/09 - 09:57 am
0
0
Phish...that site I listed

Phish...that site I listed above talks ALL about that and more!

SandyK2005
1
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SandyK2005 01/09/09 - 09:58 am
0
0
Ah, don't give folks that

Ah, don't give folks that soft sell. You know exactly why it's there, and it's not to educate folks about what movies came from the bible. That could easily be handled in a world religion class. And it doesn't matter if it's an elective, single theology style courses in schools are inappropriate -- unless all religions are offered EQUAL air time at the SAME time. No equality, no lesson in school (or goto religious schools to get all of the bible lessons you want every school day). It's not a place to pick up converts. It'll also be funnier than hell to see a Christian and a Satanist together in class learning each other's beliefs (and how fast the school board will think of an excuse to close the class, due to "sensibilities" [e.g., angry parents -- and folks see the real face of intolerance behind these schemes!])

HotFoot
17
Points
HotFoot 01/09/09 - 10:00 am
0
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The Bible's validity as an

The Bible's validity as an account of history as it actually happened is dubious. Much of it was written decades after the events were alleged to have taken place. It is a beautiful piece of literature, but IT IS NOT RECORDED HISTORY. It simply doesn't meet the tests that we apply to the other historical documents we study. One must believe in it to believe in its history as recounted, which makes it, yes, a RELIGIOUS document.

HotFoot
17
Points
HotFoot 01/09/09 - 10:02 am
0
0
And pofwe, you really believe

And pofwe, you really believe that the Bible is "the only source of truth known to mankind"? I pity you your impoverished world view.

mommie2
2
Points
mommie2 01/09/09 - 10:03 am
0
0
Sandy I used to sound just

Sandy I used to sound just like you. But the fact is this issue is not so cut and dry. The curriculum allows for the study of historical documents and religious history. World History mostly focuses in Islam and Hinduism. Christianity is mentioned in passing in most textbooks. As long as the teacher doesn't overstep her boundaries (and we are very clear on what our boundaries are) then it's ok. Futhermore, in this area of the world, it's a losing battle.

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