A struggling Christian school teaching creationism in South Carolina is receiving some unexpected financial help after an atheist website posted an exam from the school on the Internet. Aid has come from Answers in Genesis and concerned readers.
"It is unmistakable that our culture greatly needs well-equipped warriors for Christ. Even though the attack on the school was meant to be harmful, God has used it to provide affirmation regarding the importance of our work," Diana Baker, an administrator at the Blue Ridge Christian Academy in Landrum, S.C., said in a press release emailed to The Washington Post regarding the recent controversy over a quiz provided to the school's fourth grade class, which included questions relating to creationism.
"We are hopeful that the recent unexpected interest in our school and in Christian Education will provide support for a future for BRCA," Baker added.
These helpful donations came about when on April 21, username Puskunk posted a photo of a 4th grade science quiz on the atheist page for Reddit, a website which allows readers to share their comments and generate discussion.
The 4th grade science test, which reportedly comes from Blue Ridge Christian Academy, includes several "true or false" questions in which the correct answer pertains to creationism.
For example, the first question asks: "True or false, the earth is billions of years old," with the correct answer being false.
Another question asks: "On what day did God make dinosaurs?" with the correct answer being "the sixth day."
The correct answers to these questions fall in line with Young Earth Creationism, which in the broadest sense is the religious belief, based on the Bible, that God created the entire universe and all human life in six 24-hour days.
Young Earth Creationism teaches that the earth is 6,000 years old and that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs during Earth's beginnings.
The test posted on the Reddit atheist page unsurprisingly gained several negative comments, such as "this is child abuse" and "whoever takes the bible and calls it science shouldn't be in any position of authority."
Some of the comments even escalated to threats toward Blue Ridge Christian Academy's teachers and administrators.
Although the test was posted for malicious reasons, Angie Dentler, a teacher and publicist from Blue Ridge Christian Academy, sent a press release to The Washington Post indicating that the posting of the quiz has resulted in donations for the school, which is currently struggling financially and was considering closing after May 31.
"The controversy comes in the midst of major financial struggles that BRCA is experiencing," Dentler said, adding that the small, private institution is endeavoring to raise $200,000 so that it may stay open.
"The media attention has brought awareness of the school reaching from the upstate of South Carolina, throughout the U.S. and into over 70 countries around the world," Dentler said of the Reddit posting, which gained over 3,000 comments and has been viewed over 898,000 times since it was first uploaded 25 days ago.
"Donations have been given ranging in amounts from $1 – $1,000. Encouraging notes and emails have poured in from around world to offset the thousands of hateful comments that are not only circulating the internet and Facebook, but also direct mail, emails and phone calls to the school," Dentler added.
The school noted that it does in fact include the evolution theory in its science curriculum.
Additionally, the school does not receive tax vouchers, and approximately 45 percent of students receive financial aid funded by private donors.
Blue Ridge Christian Academy's recent inadvertent media fame has even gained the attention of Dr. Ken Ham, CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis, a Christian apologetics ministry that believes in a literal translation of the Bible.
Ham and Mark Looy, co-founder of Answers in Genesis, co-wrote an article, titled "Intolerant Atheists Viciously Attack Christian School," defending the Christian school.
In the article, Ham and Looy explained that the quiz provided to the fourth grade students at Blue Ridge Christian Academy was a part of an Answers in Genesis DVD that taught "children the history of the universe from the Bible, with a special emphasis on teaching dinosaurs from a biblical perspective."
The science quiz was provided to the students after showing the video to test how much information they gained from the DVD.
A friend of one of the parents of a child in the fourth grade class reportedly posted the quiz on the Internet, thus sparking a barrage of vehement comments from atheists, both in the U.S. and beyond.
"Now, this Christian academy is not a large school. Yet the atheists went after it with incredible fervor. The school administrator informed us she knew that the school would be involved in a spiritual battle after the quiz went public, but she was not expecting such ferocity," Ham and Looy wrote.
"These anti-God people hate the fact that Christians are teaching children to stand on the authority of the Bible; they want to be the ones teaching children and indoctrinating them into atheism," the article continued.
Ham and Looy added that the fact that atheists so vehemently attacked the quiz proves that "more than ever, God's people need to be standing up publicly and unashamedly for the authority of His Word."
Answers in Genesis went on to encourage readers to provide donations to Blue Ridge Christian Academy, and indicated that it will be working closely with the academy's administrator to further help the school.
The school's website states that one of its academic goals is to teach students that "God's truth is authoritative and is the foundation for all living and learning," so that students may "develop a biblical worldview while both understanding the culture in which they live and [be] ready to confidently defend their faith."
South Carolina is one of seven states in the U.S. that specifically requires its schools' science standards to allow students to critically analyze key aspects of evolutionary theory.