Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bible Ban by Idaho State Agency Challenged

Public charter school continues legal action against state ban of Bible as instructional text

-- From "NCA appeals court ruling on religious texts" by Jessie L. Bonner, Associated Press Writer 6/14/10

The Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group of Christian lawyers, contend to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a federal judge erred when he threw out Nampa Classical Academy's case last year.

"A wholesale ban on books with religious content conflicts with established U.S. Supreme Court precedent," said David Cortman, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.

The academy sued the Idaho Public Charter School Commission in September 2009, saying the state had illegally barred use of the Bible as an instructional text. At the time, Cortman said he had never seen such a broad-reaching ban on using the Bible as a resource in public schools.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge dismissed the case last month, saying the ban did not violate the school's rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court banned ceremonial school Bible readings in 1963 but said "the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities" so long as material is "presented objectively as part of a secular program of education."

Public schools across the country have traditionally avoided Bible courses and the potential controversy but hundreds do offer voluntary classes to students.

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From "Is Boise banning the Bible?" by Bob Unruh © 2010 WorldNetDaily 6/16/10

The dispute centers on curriculum plans adopted by Nampa Classical Academy, which was preparing for its instruction of more than 500 students. Officials obtained approval from the state board of education in 2008 and then followed up with positive responses from the Public Charter School Commission as it developed its standards and curriculum.

Then, last year, the state commission suddenly raised objections and prohibited the academy from using any "religious documents and text" in its curriculum or in its classrooms, even if used objectively as a resource.

State officials threatened they would not allow the academy to open if school officials used the Bible or other religious texts on their classroom resource list.

The ADF sued, but Judge Ed Lodge dismissed the complaint, ruling that the commission members "have control over the content of the curriculum."

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