Courses on Bible up for Vote

January 11, 2007

Author: Bridget Gutierrez

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

State Board of Education members Thursday approved new academic courses on the Bible, allowing Georgia's public high schools for the first time to offer taxpayer-funded classes devoted to the "Good Book."

The two half-credit, voluntary electives will teach interested high school students the history and literature of the Holy Scriptures.

Public high schools could begin offering the courses as early as next school year.

DeKalb County father Jay Cunningham was unimpressed when lawmakers a year ago introduced the bill to create the classes, saying they had more pressing issues. A year later, Cunningham, now a county school board member, still isn't sure how the classes will benefit students such as his two daughters at Martin Luther King Jr. High in Lithonia. "I think people have a right, when it comes to religion, to choose [what to follow]," said Cunningham, adding that if his daughters wanted to take the course, "as a parent, I would certainly ask them why they're interested in it. ... It goes back to parenting. We're still responsible for their decision-making. If it's something I feel is not in their best interest, I will certainly say that."

While campuses are not required to add the classes, if they do, they will receive state money to pay for them.

Even then, students cannot be compelled to take the classes - which will be offered as English language arts electives - because they are not required for graduation.