LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (KT) – The Anderson County High School site-based council voted unanimously last Tuesday evening to not proceed with offering a Bible elective about the historical influences of the Old Testament.
The school will instead offer a “world religions” course that will include Christianity and Islam, among others.
Principal Chris Glass and social studies teacher Corey Sayre, who belong to the eight-member council comprised of elected parents and teachers, both expressed concerns that a course on the Bible could create numerous legal problems, a perspective they said is shared by the district’s attorney, Robert Chenoweth.
Along with Glass and Sayre, those voting to approve the world religions elective instead of the Bible elective included teachers Heather Adams, Anne Kline and Lauren Vasser, along with parents Shannon Carpenter, Hope Franklin and Kimberly Quire.
According to Glass, Sayre spent last month creating a curriculum outline of the course, but both decided the class could violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
“I have full confidence in Corey, but I am also worried about the constitutional responsibility that goes with a course like this,” Glass said. “I attend church on Sundays but at the same time I understand we have constitutional boundaries.
“Separation of church and state plays a role in what we do at the school.”
Sayre said that the standards laid out for the course by the Kentucky of Department of Education were “vague.”
“I’ve been worried about the constitutionality of it for a while,” he said. “It’s very difficult to stay in parameters and stay on course and make sure you don’t cross constitutional boundaries.”
An undisclosed number of students signed up for the Old Testament elective after the site-based council approved the master calendar containing the class last month. Now those students will be alerted to the course change so they may opt out or keep it, Glass said.
Sayre said the curriculum outline is still undeveloped, but added during the meeting that if enough students keep the course, it will encompass “Abrahamic” religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, along with Eastern religions.
When asked about the Christian portion of the world religions course, Sayre said he “won’t teach theology,” and will focus on the New Testament and its influence on cultural, political or artistic movements.
Glass and Sayre were the only site-based council members to comment on switching to a world religions class during the meeting.