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Exponent-Telegram editorial for Friday, September 25, 1998

Bible study class in Marion a good idea; no mandate involved

A Bible study class in the curriculum of Marion County's high schools, we believe, would be a tremendous step forward.

We're speaking of the class as an elective and certainly not even hinting that it be anything else.

A former elementary school principal, Bonnie Moats, began working on the project approximately four months ago, and since sending petitions to churches and community groups, she has presented to the board a petition with 500 signatures in support of the course.

Moats has assured that students would not be indoctrinated by the course, that is, they would not be influenced with any partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view or principle. That seems a fair enough offer to us.

The idea has been backed by two Marion school board members, President James "Rat" Saunders and Babette Simms. To our knowledge, there has been no comment from members Bill Phillips, Dr. George Boyles or Joan Duvall.

Saunders instructed Marion Schools Superintendent Tom Long to work with Moats in order to draw up additional details on the proposed class.

The course, which was put together by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, would simply be available to any student desiring to be enrolled. Nothing has been proposed that would shove a particular doctrine down anyone's throat or imposed upon students against their will.

There's no doubt in our minds that there'll be opposition to such a class being offered by those who tend to be "spooked" by anything connected with religion or the Bible to any degree.

Nevertheless, if entire curricula can literally be forced upon school students by the government -- according to some prescribed philosophy slanted toward specialized career courses -- then there should be no problem with merely offering a class that could benefit all students.

-- Robert F. Stealey