Bible Literacy Project News
WBIR TV-10, Knoxville, TN
Campbell County schools to offer Bible course this fall
Backpacks at Campbell County High School are crammed
with world history, biology, and algebra texts, but
nothing dealing in religion, and especially not in the
"We don't have anything like this in the schools. For
years, we've not been able to teach anything that
relates to the Bible," said Campbell County Schools
Materials Supervisor Dr. Rita Goins.
That's about to change.
The "Bible & Its Influence" texts, now sitting still
atop Dr. Goins' desk, only have to wait another semester
before decorating classroom shelves.
Bible classes being back in Tennessee's public high
schools mark a fairly new development. State lawmakers
approved the measure in 2008.
The Tennessee Department of Education established a
curriculum in 2009, and Campbell County is wasting no
time implementing it.
"It is about expanding our academic horizons, and we
feel the Bible is one of the most important historical
and intellectual documents from which to draw," said
Campbell County Board of Education Member Mark Wells.
"We feel like this would be a very strong way to
The course is designed as either an English or history
The workbooks to be used ask reading comprehension
questions, Greek language questions, even questions
about how the Bible influenced Italian opera.
"This is actually how the Bible has influenced other
areas of curriculum," said Campbell County BOE Attorney
Dail Cantrell. "It's impossible to have a comprehensive
public education without a basic understanding of the
to the state guidelines, students are allowed to choose
their own Bible translation.
Eligible teachers must be certified in either English,
history, or humanities.
The course itself should cover key Biblical narratives,
poetry and readings -- from both the Old and New
Testaments. Students should also be introduced to
relevant vocabulary and should learn how the Bible was
What the class is not allowed to become -- church.
"There's nothing wrong with teaching the Bible,"
Cantrell explained. "You just can't teach people to
believe in the Bible."
"This is not a class that is set up to proselytize,"
Wells said. "That is not legal in Tennessee, and that is
not the intent."
The total cost of the class to the district is $2,500.
Campbell County plans to start this fall, with one class
offered at both Campbell County High School and Jellico
Knox, Blount, and Sevier counties have offered Bible
courses for several years, but they had to petition the
state for special approval.