Possible Bible class generates social media debate

Mustang High School

By Traci Chapman

The possible addition of an elective Bible history class at Mustang Public Schools has fired up an online debate.
chad fulton pull quote.qxdSteve Green, president and chief executive officer of Hobby Lobby, first presented the idea of the class during Mustang School Board’s Nov. 11 meeting. Green said he and his staff were working on proposed curriculum for a class that could possibly be offered as early as next fall.
Green’s presentation was informational only. Superintendent Sean McDaniel said the district’s curriculum committee would have to analyze any possible course, and school board members would have to sign off on the offering. If passed, the course would be an elective, which would mean students could choose to take – or decline taking – the class.
Despite the preliminary nature of the idea, the issue on Facebook generated 95 posts, including one made by Mustang School Board President Chad Fulton.
“What a great opportunity for these students!!,” Fulton posted Nov. 20. “We are so fortunate to have a company such as Hobby Lobby in our community that is willing to assist our school district.
“I am honored that Mr. Green is willing to help bring this biblical curriculum to Mustang,” he concluded.
While many people wrote opinions similar to those expressed by the school board president, others questioned the fact the proposed course was not about “general religion,” but rather had the Bible as its subject matter.
“Why not just teach a religion course? Then there wouldn’t be a massive argument,” posted Nick Sigman. “The Bible is used in more religions than Christianity and it would have to obviously play a crucial role in curriculum because of the major influence in modern religion, but it would also give people insight on what other people believe or maybe even what your classmates believe.”
“I wouldn’t want to be the teacher,” stated Rachel King-Brown. “If you say one wrong thing, it could cause a lot of unnecessary trouble.
“Correction – if a student interprets what you said the wrong way, or a parent disagrees with the curriculum, etc., I think this class would open a can of worms that is better left alone,” she said.
Those concerns seemed to mirror questions raised by board member Jeff Landrith during Green’s Nov. 20 presentation. Landrith asked Green, a self-professed Christian, about how the course would present other religions, such as Catholicism, Latter Day Saints and others. Not all religions use the King James Bible, Landrith said.
“It’s not about denominations, it’s about the book,” Green replied.
The class, if approved, was made possible by a law passed by Oklahoma legislators in 2010. Despite the law’s passage, posters on Facebook questioned whether it was appropriate to teach any kind of Bible-related class to Mustang high school students.
“Separation of Church and State! Not to mention discrimination against alternate religions being offered the same opportunity,” Kim Ross Hunter stated.
McDaniel said after the Nov. 20 meeting it was important to remember students – and their parents – would have a choice whether they wished to take the class, if and when it was actually offered by the district.
“It would be completely voluntary for everyone,” he said.
That was a component many Facebook posters seemed to like, even without knowing the actual curriculum that could be proposed to Mustang administrators.
“I think it is a great idea,” posted Sandy Szeliga. “It would be an elective, so the students would have the choice.”