Bible history class now at East Hamilton, Tyner next - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Bible history class now at East Hamilton, Tyner next

Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter

HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB)-- Area churches are working together to make a Bible history course available to public high school students.

East Hamilton Middle/High School offered the course for the first time this year.

They've raised nearly $150,000. Now the class will also be offered at Tyner Academy.

According to law, it is legal to teach Bible history in schools as long as it is taught from a historical perspective and the class won't cost taxpayer dollars.

In Mr. Fairbanks' East Hamilton classroom, students don't come with algebra or literature textbooks, just the Bible.

"The program is purely voluntary, students sign up," says Assistant Principal Eddie Gravitte.

The idea is nothing new.

In fact, 17 Bible history classes are taught throughout Hamilton County schools.

But making the course available at East Hamilton and Tyner Academy began with a group of parents, then 13 area churches stepped in.

"So, we challenged ourselves that day, that we would go back to our churches and we would do everything possible to make it happen," says Pastor Bill Owens.

Bill Owens is pastor of one of those churches.

Working through an organization called Bible in Schools, they had to raise close to $150,000 to offer the class at both schools.

Vicky Johnson's daughter is one of Mr. Fairbanks' students.

"She says she really enjoys the class," says Johnson.

The mother says the class not only teaches her daughter history, but moral guidance.

"The application of the Bible itself, it shapes character in kids," says Johnson.

As for the critics, school officials say it's only offered as an elective and taught as history not faith.

"It's not about preaching or proselytizing students, it's just teaching them everything that happened through the various books of the Bible," says Assistant Principal Gravitte. 

The Bible in Schools Organization funds all the Bible history classes in Hamilton County.

The teachers are employed by the school district, but their salaries are reimbursed by Bible in Schools.

The course at Tyner Academy will be offered at the beginning of the next school year.

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