The Bible and the Board

By Richard D. Sorenson

Last spring, a West Texas school board voted to add a Bible class to its high school curriculum. Hundreds of people packed the Ector County Board meeting, expressing deep feelings regarding religion in public education.

“Barring any hurdles,” the Houston Chronicle reported, “the class should be added to the curriculum in fall 2006.” And, indeed, it occurred.

The operative wording of the newspaper story is “barring any hurdles.” These “hurdles” bring many issues to the board- room, some of which we may understand and others we may not. One thing we know is that there are strong feelings both for and against teaching the Bible in schools, and the issue is almost always divisive.

What we may not understand is the serious potential for legal entanglement when the Bible --  and religion in general --  is introduced in schools. Today more than ever, people demand that schools provide a greater accommodation of the Christian faith, while others remain adamant in their call for the strict separation between church and state. As a result, school districts, and most certainly board members, are often caught in the middle of a controversial quandary that could end up as a prolonged court battle and an intense public ordeal.

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