Christian school: ‘atheist controversy’ over creationist quiz may keep academy open

I recently published a fourth grade “science quiz” given to students at a creationist South Carolina religious school, which featured questions in which the “correct” answers were essentially a denial of science. For example: Students were told to say True or False to this: “The earth is billions of years old” and the correct answer was “False.” This reflects the beliefs of Young Earth creationist theory, which holds that the universe and everything in it was created by God some 6,000 years ago.

That post didn’t identify the school, but Angie Dentler, a teacher and publicist from Blue Ridge Christian Academy in Landrum, S.C., wrote to me saying it was her school, and she sent the following press release. It says that the school was having major financial trouble but that the release of the quiz, which first hit the Internet and Facebook weeks ago, may wind up helping the school stay open.

Here’s the release:

Recent Atheist Controversy Sparks New Hope for South Carolina Christian School to Remain Open

·         It was announced on March 28th that there would be little hope for Blue Ridge Christian Academy to keep its doors open past May 31st .

·         On April 21st, an Atheist website features a photo of a Quiz on Creationism that was given to a 4th grade class at Blue Ridge Christian Academy on March 28th.   [Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/1crzuz/actual_4th_grade_science_test_from_a_school_in_sc/?sort=new ]  This thread has been viewed over 898,000 times and generated 3,677 comments.  Some comments were extreme stating things such as:  “I crave blood, give me the principals head!” and “I hope the teacher dies a horrible death.”

  • Dr. Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, reached out to BRCA to offer encouragement and support.  He co-wrote an article with Mark Looy, COO of Answers in Genesis, that appeared as the lead article on their website.  [http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2013/04/30/atheists-attack-christian-school ]

  • The school’s science curriculum does include the theory of evolution.

  • The controversy comes in the midst of major financial struggles that BRCA is experiencing.  The academy is endeavoring to raise $200,000 in order to maintain a budget that allows the school to move forward into the 2013-14 school year.

  • The media attention has brought awareness of the school reaching from the upstate of South Carolina, throughout the US and into over 70 countries around the world.  Donations have been given ranging in amounts from $1 – $1000.  Encouraging notes and emails have poured in from around world to offset the thousands of hateful comments that are not only circulating the internet and Facebook, but also direct mail, emails and phone calls to the school.

  • Diana Baker, Administrator at BRCA, commented on the controversy, “It is unmistakable that our culture greatly needs well-equipped warriors for Christ.  Even though the attack on the school was meant to be harmful, God has used it to provide affirmation regarding the importance of our work.  We are hopeful that the recent unexpected interest in our school and in Christian Education will provide support for a future for BRCA.

  • BRCA does not receive tax vouchers. Approximately 45% of students receive financial aid. Their financial aid is funded by private donors.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | May 16, 2013