Arizona School Cancels Controversial Bible Class Due to Lack of Interest July 25, 2020

Arizona School Cancels Controversial Bible Class Due to Lack of Interest

Back in December, the board of the Camp Verde Unified School District in Arizona voted 4-0 to adopt a specific Bible curriculum promoted by the right-wing National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools.

There’s nothing wrong with learning about the Bible or studying it as a work of literature, as long as it’s taught objectively and without any whiff of Christian supremacy.

That was the problem, though. The NCBCPS materials treated Christianity as true and the Bible as fact. One researcher claimed it had “shoddy research, factual errors and plagiarism.” Even after the course was revised, it still promoted conservative views.

Dianne Post, the legal director for the Secular Communities for Arizona, wrote a piece for the Verde News (behind a paywall) in which she highlighted some of her concerns:

Some of the National Council’s claims sound like the National Enquirer, like the report in
some editions that NASA discovered a missing day in time that corresponds to the biblical story of the sun standing still
— an urban legend.

The curriculum assumes an inerrantist perspective, the belief held by some (not all) theologically conservative Protestants but rejected by other Christians that the Bible has no historical or scientific errors.

It repeats historical errors and uses fake quotations to promote Christian nationalism, the mistaken belief that the American system of law and government is based primarily on the Bible.

Furthermore, Post added, while the Christian group behind this course claimed it had never been challenged in court, that’s not the whole truth. A couple of school boards have been sued for using the curriculum even if the group itself wasn’t. (Those cases were settled.)

And yet the school board adopted the curriculum anyway. Unanimously. At the encouragement of three residents, said Post, who didn’t even have kids in the district.

But here’s the kicker: After all that controversy, the course will not be offered this coming school year because — wait for it — almost nobody wants to take it.

According to the Verde News, Principal Mark Showers of Camp Verde High School said that only two students said in a survey they would be interested in the elective class.

With such low interest, the district can’t justify offering the class, much less finding a teacher for it.

That’s good news for the district. It avoids a potential lawsuit over a controversial curriculum and allows administrators to focus on making sure students get an actual education instead of some kind of strange Christian revisionist history.

Tory Roberg, the lobbyist for Secular Coalition for Arizona, told me last night that the lack of interest in this course shows why Arizona should repeal the law that allowed these courses to exist at all.

The fact that only 2 students were interested in this type of coursework shows how out of touch our lawmakers are when they passed this legislation several years ago. Biblical studies are not appropriate for secular public schools, and clearly not what students want. There is no demand for this elective course from the students; only the adults. Arizona lawmakers need to repeal A.R.S. §15-717.01 come January.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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