Texas School District Defends Bible Class

Attorneys on behalf of a Texas school district filed a motion Monday to the federal court supporting a Bible class that officials say has been taught appropriately.

The motion is in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and People for the American Way Foundation against the Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) in Odessa on May 16 in which the two groups asked school officials to stop offering the class.

The school board members feel the lawsuit is unnecessary, however, since the class is in no way violating individual's religious rights.

"Their claims are wrong," explained Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for the Christian legal group Liberty Legal Institute, according to the Associated Press. "The allegations are invalid."

In 2005, the ECSID voted by a 4-2 margin to add a Bible-based elective course. The class would use a King James Version scripture as its text book and use materials from the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools.

Eight parents filed the recent lawsuit through the two civil liberties groups, feeling that the class promotes Christianity to their children and has no place in the classroom.

In an attempt to avoid the lawsuit, the school district's attorneys have offered the plaintiffs a settlement of $500 to stop further action. As part of the settlement, school officials noted that the district has found nothing wrong with the curriculum and that it is acceptable for a course.

"There's no purpose in [the lawsuit], but I always thought that from the start," said L.V. Foreman, ECISD board vice president, according to AP.

The case seems to be pushing ahead, however, since the unhappy parents have explained that they will not accept the settlement money.

"I did this because it's a violation of my constitutional rights," said Lori White, a plaintiff in the case and local ACLU chapter president, according to the Odessa American. "I assure you we're not suing for any monetary value."

Other parents in the Odessa area, meanwhile, have been showing their support for the Bible curriculum. They expressed that the book is very influential and should be studied by students. They also did not understand why the involved parents took so much offense to the class since it is only an elective and the class is taught more like a history course.

"I do believe very strongly that we need Bible studies not just in the schools but in the home," explained Texas native James Clark, whose son Josh took the course, according to the Odessa American. "When they offer a class at a school as an elective, there shouldn't be any beef about it."

Clark has even felt so strongly about keeping the class that he had 1,500 bumper stickers made that read "We Support The ECISD Bible Curriculum" to put on the back of people's cars.

The National Council has reported that hundreds of U.S. schools use their curriculum, including more than 50 in Texas.

The lawsuit is still ongoing.