CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – The Chesterfield County school system is under fire tonight, for a textbook that's being considered for a bible course. The ACLU says one of the textbooks under review may unconstitutionally promote religious beliefs, and says it has the court cases to prove it.
The controversy isn't about the bible class itself. It's about one of the books that may be used. This one: "The Bible in History and Literature".
"Religion is something that's very personal to each individual and so it's very hard to teach it in another way," said Kent Willis, with the ACLU.
Willis argues the book's message promotes a religious interpretation of the bible.
"This teaches the bible almost entirely from the Protestant/Christian point of view," Willis said. "It teaches the bible really much like you would teach it in a Sunday school class. Which is absolutely fine in the Sunday school class, but in the public school setting it needs to be taught in a more objective, scholarly way."
Chesterfield schools have yet to make a selection. Right now a committee is weighing opinions from parents and the community.
"This is a process we use for every single new textbook that comes into place," said Shawn Smith with Chesterfield County Public Schools
Though, Smith says the bible course has created more community interest than normal.
"There have been lawsuits over this program," Willis said.
Lawsuits in Florida and Texas ended with the book being rejected. Craig County, VA opted not to use the book either.
"We are extremely aware of additional sensitivities from the legal perspective that a course of this nature will value. We going to look at that as well," Smith said.
The ACLU has no problem with the other textbook being considered for the new bible class.
"It can be done, if done right," said Willis.
The textbook committee will make a recommendation to the superintendent, who will then ask the school board for approval. A decision is expected by June. The bible class will not be offered next year. There was not enough student interest or teachers available.
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