Clashed over Bible verses: Board votes to shut down Alberta Christian school

CAMROSE — An Alberta Christian school that clashed with its school division over teaching certain Bible verses may be forced to shut down.

The Battle River School Division voted last week to close Cornerstone Christian Academy in Kingman, Alta., at the end of the school year.

The relationship started to fray about a year ago when the school division asked the school to stop teaching certain Bible verses that discussed sexuality.

School division trustees said that they believed the verses could contravene Alberta’s human rights code.

School board chairman Kendall Severson said that was eventually dealt with, but the bigger issue was a lack of co-operation.

The school argues the division’s attempts at censoring biblical references in the curriculum are illegal and wants the courts to stop the closure.

“I guess it was the unwillingness to work together for a communications protocol on how we communicate with each other and dealing with issues that arise,” Severson said, pointing to an ongoing legal challenge brought against the division by the Cornerstone Christian Academy Society.

“We can’t work together with an organization that’s got legal action against us, and not willing to come together and work on an agreement.”

Deanna Margel, the society board’s chairwoman, said there is a “great misunderstanding” of what faith means in today’s culture.

“What is happening at the school is a good opportunity for people to discuss their different ideas and talk about how we deal with those things,” she said.

“Anybody familiar with the Christian Bible will recognize that there are many, many, many passages of Scripture that are offensive to even those of us who follow Christ.”

Parents are already considering their options if the legal fight fails.

“Many different parents (are) doing many different things: some going to home schooling, some having to drive their kids 40 minutes to 45 minutes away,” said Gabe Vorhees, who sends his four children to Cornerstone. “None of us really want to be part of this school division.”

He said his family was happy with the division before it decided to close the school, but doesn’t trust it anymore.

Vorhees said he believes there’s a lot of internal animosity.

“We are people of faith and we’re a community of faith and we choose to forgive, but we also have rights.”

If things don’t go their way in court, the school society’s backup plan is to reopen as a private school in the fall. Margel acknowledged that would make for a busy summer for the school society, because that would involve a lot of paperwork under tight timelines.

Cornerstone teachers also have a choice to make. They are employees of the school division, so staying on at a revamped Cornerstone would mean giving up their jobs with the public school board.

(iNews880)

Brenton Driedger, iNews880, The Canadian Press

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