Chattanooga Public School Students Take Bible Classes


You may not think such a thing legal in this day and age, but the Hamilton County Public School System offers a Bible History Class.

This is courtesy of a Chattanooga-based nonprofit that has put up millions of dollars of its own money to fund it.

The group, Bible in the Schools, has donated cash for several years, and their money funds teachers and materials for the class, said Hamilton County School Systems spokesman Tim Hensley, in an emailed statement to The Tennessee Star.

A representative from Bible in the Schools was unavailable to talk Thursday.

The group has already donated $1.3 million to fund the course for the school year, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

According to the paper, enrollment data from 23 participating schools show 4,068 students in grades six through 12 completed the courses during the 2017-18 academic year, a record enrollment.

The $1.3 million was the largest philanthropic gift the school system received for the year. With the money the school system hired 20 qualified and certified Bible History teachers, Superintendent Bryan Johnson told the paper.

The class is an elective.

Bible in the Schools has made this course possible for nearly 10 decades, according to The Times Free Press.

The group expects to have 25 participating schools this fall. County-wide student access to the Bible History course increased from 67 percent to 81 percent during the past 24 months, the paper went on to say.

“The Bible history courses will expand to 25 schools this fall, be taught by 22 credentialed teachers and led by a full-time Bible history program coordinator, all fully funded through charitable donations to Bible in the Schools,” the paper reported.

There are legal guidelines, however, that school system officials must follow.

According to the Society of Biblical Literature’s website, for the class to pass the constitutional smell test, neither the teacher nor the school can promote or discourage students from having religious beliefs.

“A school’s approach to the Bible must be academic, not devotional. The teacher should teach about the Bible, not lead a ‘Bible study,’” the website said.

“When done in a way that neither promotes nor disparages particular religious beliefs, academic study is constitutional. Religious teaching, advocacy, indoctrination, proselytizing, or practice—whether intentional or unwitting—is unconstitutional.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]










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