Sat, May 25

Should Bible studies be part of public school curriculum?
Issue being studied for Camp Verde schools; request also sent to Mingus Union

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CAMP VERDE – In January, Cottonwood residents Barry Jones and Tony Isola asked the Camp Verde School Board to “teach the Bible for credit.”

Tuesday, Helen Freeman told the rest of the Camp Verde School Board that she had “no problem investigating” whether the district’s high school should offer the Bible as an elective course.

On a 4-to-0 vote – with one member absent – the Camp Verde School Board voted to pursue possible Bible instruction at Camp Verde High School for the 2019-2020 school year.

To clarify the motion – and the agenda item – administrator-in-charge Danny Howe said the board’s vote was a “directive to get material to further investigate.”

“One thing we need to make sure is to follow the statute,” Howe said.

According to a letter to the board dated Dec. 8 by Jones, Isola and Greg Roeller, Arizona Revised Statute 15-362 Sec. 4-15-717-01 “authorizes high schools in Arizona to offer a Bible influence elective course for credit.”

According to the statute, personnel “shall not be assigned to teach the course based on … a religious test, a profession of faith or lack of faith, [or] prior or current religious affiliation or a lack of religious affiliation.”

Jones, who has “been active in the evangelical community for most of” his life, said his group is “motivated to encourage our schools to teach the Bible because of the startling Biblical illiteracy among our young people,” and the “lack of knowledge about the Bible that has resulted has left entire generations now without an understanding of the origins of western civilization.”

Before the board’s vote, Howe said that Camp Verde High School has “four people, one in particular, who could” teach the class.

When asked who could teach the Bible course, Camp Verde High School Principal Mark Showers said that it’s “too early in the process to give any specific information.”

Jones, Isola and Roeller have also written the Sedona, Humboldt and Mingus Union school districts.

“We intend, as time allows, to visit as many school boards as possible,” Jones said.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42