Bible Course Suit Brewing

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- A battle of almost biblical proportions may be brewing in the Bible Belt.

The Georgia Board of Education is scheduled next week to vote on a list of more than 1,300 approved courses for the state's public schools that includes a couple of notable additions: Bible I and II.

Hundreds of Georgians have sent letters to the Department of Education, mostly expressing support for the proposed classes.

However, a national organization is already threatening a lawsuit, and the board's chairman is a little nervous about the whole thing.

"There are some constitutional issues there," said board Chairman Otis Brumby of Marietta, who plans to ask State Attorney General Thurbert Baker for a legal opinion on the matter.

Brumby wants to take the Bible history courses off the approved list pending Baker's opinion. But it's unclear if the board can do that without delaying approval of the entire list of courses the state will fund until after the 1999-2000 school year starts this month.

Brumby said he didn't know the course was on the list when the board tentatively approved it last month. A 30-day period of public comment followed the vote, and final consideration is scheduled for Thursday.

State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko said 90 percent of those who have contacted her agency support the courses, which were requested by officials in McDuffie, Lee and Decatur counties and parents in Evans.

"I'd say Georgians want it," the superintendent said.

She argued the class is a study of the Bible as history, not a religious course.

"There is no mention of God; there is no mention of creation," Schrenko said. …