Dispute Settled over School Bible Courses

Article excerpt

The school board in Lee County, Florida, has reached an agreement with members of the community over controversial elective Bible courses and will continue to offer them, using a secular textbook. "Our board voted February 25 . . . in a special meeting to accept the plaintiffs' offer of settlement and they signed off on that offer," said Wayne Perry, public information officer for the district.

The dispute pitted community members against each other, some arguing that the Bible should be taught as historically accurate, while others argued that the Bible, while an historical document, is not necessarily accurate in its portrayal of history, and that teaching its history as fact represents a particular religious slant on history.

Carole Shields, president of People for the American Way Foundation said she was pleased with the outcome. Her organization, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Florida law firm of Steel Hector & Davis, sued the school board in December on behalf of some parents and other county residents "This settlement is a victory for the plaintiffs and for everyone in Lee County who cares about the Firs Amendment and religious liberty,' Shields said. "The plaintiffs have achieved what they set out to achieve in bringing this lawsuit: the withdrawal of the unconstitutional curricula adopted by the school board and, in their place, [the introduction of] new and objective curricula for teaching students about the Bible. …