Biblically Based High School Textbook Causes Controversy

August 25, 2004 -- Posted at 10:20 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO--If the Bible is being taught as a literary work in Jonesboro Public Schools, should other religious books be added to the curriculum as well? One Jonesboro parent says yes.

The book "The Bible as in Literature" is a mandatory study for an advanced placement English class at Jonesboro High School. It's causing a few raised eyebrows. One JHS parent says the Bible is a part of his religion, but thinks using "The Good Book" as a literary source is a bad idea.

"Which ever religious book it is, it does not belong in the public schools," says Aslam Haydar. He says one of his son's textbooks teaches religion as a by-product of the course. "What if we had 'The Koran as in Literature?' Do you think there would be a couple of people objecting to it? Everybody would be objecting," says Haydar.

Jonesboro High School Principal Terry Trotter says the AP course has been approved by the Supreme Court and that the religion aspect of the class is a misconception. "We're not taking it from a theology aspect, we're not teaching faith. We're teaching about writing styles and composition," said Trotter.

However; Haydar says no matter how you say it, the book is bridging the gap between church and state. "I'm sorry to say that I disagree with whoever says no we're not teaching religion. The moment you open the book and the word Jesus comes in, you are teaching the Bible," says Haydar.

Several times, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of public schools that use biblically based textbooks.  Haydar says his son will stay in the class and he expects him to make a good grade.