School officials: Bible classes will resume during evaluation

by: Catherine Bilkey Updated:

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SALISBURY, N.C. - Bible classes will continue at elementary schools in Rowan County. The Board of Education met Thursday night to discuss Bible instruction in the Rowan-Salisbury School System after a national group wrote them a letter asking them to immediately stop the classes.

The meeting at the administrative building was packed, and the crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the Bible classes.

PDF: Freedom from Religion Foundation letter to school

“The overwhelming majority of citizens here oppose any policy that you would ever consider to prohibit optional classes and organizations that teach Bible history,” one man said.

Dozens of people got up and spoke before the board, including a former teacher and students. They want Bible classes kept in the elementary schools. Many people brought their Bibles with them to show support for the classes.

READ MORE: Organization hopes to halt Bible classes in school system

“The little ones hear Bible stories and they learn things that they may not learn at home,” Libby Smith said. “It's just a way for children to know about God.”

Eyewitness News has been covering this story since the Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to the district urging it to stop teaching the Bible in elementary schools. The group said schools are for secular education, and it believes the Bible classes are unconstitutional. Some people in Rowan County agree.

“The teaching of only one body of religious understanding, the Bible, separates out all the other religions,” Andrew Annand said.

He came to speak at the meeting but was urged by his family not to get up because the crowd was so opposed to his views.

“I would not have a problem if it was presented in context with other religions,” Annand said.

The district said the class is not mandatory and requires permission from parents. Thursday, the board voted to assess the classes to see if they are in line with what the Constitution requires. For now, Bible classes remain.

“We have not changed anything about the instruction of the program,” Richard Miller, with the Board of Education, said.