Superintendent Rick Albritton with Gilmer ISD says the idea is to expose students to the Bible as literature, its influence on culture, and on society. Monday, trustees with the district unanimously approved offering the Bible as a social studies elective for juniors and seniors in the fall.
"It's not to proselytize. It's not an evangelical course," said Albritton. "It's strictly from the historical perspective." And the district wants to make that clear.
The description for the course in 2008-2009 course guide states the Bible course is academic and not devotional. Nor does it sponsor the practice of religion.
As a course, a textbook will also be used. According to the publisher's web site, The Bible and Its Influences is now used by 181 schools in 38 states.
Alan Metzel, a world history teacher, said he looks forward to teaching the course this fall. "Nebuchadnezzar, and the Hittites, and the Assyrians, and so much that's in the Old Testament--we already cover some of those things, and I think this will give us a broader perspective of it," he said.
Metzel hopes those perspective will lead to brighter students.
"In college, we take humanities, we take classes that broaden our horizons, and I think anything that you take as an elective, is going to stretch people's horizons."