CHATTANOOGA (Tenn.) -- A class on the Bible in literature that a mother taught claimed to have included Christian proselytizing, and comments that were offensive to Jews, according the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Juniper Russo shared on Facebook that she had withdrew her eighth grader from the class following the teacher's English translation of God's Hebrew name. According to the post, the teacher told students: "If you want how to torture a Jew"
Russo wrote that "This name is not traditionally spoken loudly and is traditionally only written on the Torah." "My daughter was very uncomfortable listening to a teacher instruct her peers about 'how torture a Jew'. She told me when she got home from school that it made her feel unsafe in the class."
Hamilton County Schools released a statement stating that it is looking into a complaint about its Bible History course. They will also "take appropriate actions based on those findings."
Russo stated that she also reported the incident the Anti-Defamation League.
Russo posted on Facebook that her daughter took the Bible class as other electives were impossible for her due to her disability. Russo wrote that her daughter was not comfortable answering questions such as "Do you read your Bible at home?" as she didn't want to be identified as Jewish.
Russo stated that the teacher had not only made antisemitic remarks but also taught the Genesis creation story to students as a factual account of how the universe was created. Russo also wrote that the teacher told the class a story about an atheist student, who "took it upon himself to prove it wrong" but then realized it was true.
According to the website, the class is part of the century-old Bible in the Schools program and is being taught in 29 Hamilton County schools. The website states that the classes are not religious and that teachers must teach from a neutral perspective.
The program is funded by the nonprofit. The program provided $1.8 million to the school system for the 2020-21 academic years. Cathy Scott, President of Bible in the Schools, directed all inquiries to Hamilton County Schools.
Michael Dzik is the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga. He released a statement saying that they are looking forward to having a dialogue with the Bible in the Schools organisation. The statement states that they hope the participants use the opportunity to evaluate and reflect on their curriculum, as well as how teachers present the material, to ensure the classes are education and not indoctrination.
Russo stated that the school had taken her concerns seriously. However, the Bible teacher refused a meeting with Russo or the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga in order to discuss the curriculum.
Russo wrote, "How can we claim that our schools have zero tolerance of bullying if teachers are actually instructing students how to do it?"