FRANK W. WILSON, Chief Judge.
These two related lawsuits present issues with regard to the constitutionality of certain courses of Bible study proposed for teaching in the public elementary schools of the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County, Tennessee. In a prior phase of this litigation this Court adjudicated similar issues with respect to Bible study courses as offered and taught in these school systems in prior school years, including the recently concluded 1978-1979 school year. In that prior phase of the litigation the Court concluded that the Bible study courses as offered and taught in years previous to 1978, and as modified and taught in the school year 1978-1979, violated the religious freedom provisions of the First Amendment. The Court concluded that the continuance of the courses as heretofore taught must accordingly be enjoined. See Wiley v. Franklin, 468 F.Supp. 133 (1979).
All parties to this litigation having expressed the opinion that a course in Bible study in the elementary grades would be academically and educationally desirable if it could be designed, offered and taught so as to be constitutionally permissible, the Court deemed it appropriate to afford the defendants an opportunity to resubmit a plan for a proposed course of Bible study that would meet First Amendment constitutional requirements as those requirements were set forth in the Court's previous opinion. The defendants have now submitted their proposed revised plans and courses of Bible study. The plaintiffs have likewise been afforded the opportunity of entering their concurrence or objection to the defendants' submissions and to submit alternate proposals. These objections and alternate proposals have likewise now been submitted. By stipulation of the parties these proposals, objections and counter-proposals have been made a part of the evidentiary record in the lawsuit and the cases have now been submitted to the Court for
Elementary School Bible Study Proposals
In its former opinion in these lawsuits, wherein the Court concluded that the Bible study courses heretofore taught in the city and county public schools violated the establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Court gave the following instructions in affording the defendants the option of making revisions in those courses.
In an effort to devise a constitutionally permissible course of Bible studies for use in their public elementary schools, the defendants have submitted a series of revisions which they contend are in accord with the foregoing guidelines.
The first revision submitted by the defendants purports to comply with the Court's instructions regarding teacher employment
The plaintiffs have interposed objections to this proposal. The gist of the plaintiffs' objection is that the employment of Bible teachers with any requirement less than elementary teacher certification or with any requirement more than a minimum number of quarter hours in academic religion studies as distinct from Bible literature studies, would tend to favor the employment of the religiously committed teacher rather than the academically qualified teacher. The Court is in agreement with this criticism to the extent that the defendants' plan for teacher employment would in its fourth step permit the employment of Bible teachers whose only qualifications are a teacher permit and 12 quarter hours in Bible literature. The obtaining of a teacher permit appears to be more a matter of routine than of qualification, leaving Bible study as the only significant qualification requirement in the fourth step. The Court is of the opinion that to permit such a minimum qualification would favor the employment or continued employment of teachers whose only significant qualification is Bible study in a religiously committed institution of learning. Such a minimum employment standard gives inadequate assurance for the teaching of a non-religious course in biblical history, biblical literature, or other secular biblical study emphasis.
The Court is of the opinion that this same criticism may not be made with regard to the higher qualification standards set forth in steps one through three of the defendants' proposed teacher employment standards. Accordingly, with the elimination of step four from the defendants' proposed standards, and the retention of the bachelor's degree and the biblical literature requirements, along with elementary teacher certification or permit, all as set forth in steps one through three of the proposed standards, the Court is of the opinion that the defendants' proposed teacher employment standards should be approved.
The defendants having given assurance that no religious test of any kind will be used or permitted in the employment of elementary school Bible course teachers, that all of such teachers will in the future be employed only in accordance with the employment standards heretofore discussed, and that the services of former teachers of Bible not possessing such qualifications will no longer be utilized, this phase of the defendants' plan will likewise to approved.
Pursuant to the third guideline established by the Court in its former opinion, the defendants have given assurance that the respective school boards and the appropriate school officials will assume full and exclusive responsibility for the training, placement and supervision of teachers employed in the elementary school Bible courses. The plaintiffs have objected to the adequacy of the defendants' plans in this regard, citing the past record of the defendants in having delegated these responsibilities to the Bible Study Committee. To meet this criticism and to assure compliance with any plans approved by the Court, including plans for the training, placement
Turning finally to the revised Elementary School Bible Curriculum Guide submitted by the defendants, this Curriculum Guide is submitted as being in response to and in compliance with the fourth guideline established by the Court in its former opinion. That guideline required that, as a condition to any continuance of the Bible study courses in the elementary grades, the defendants submit a revised curriculum as follows:
The issue thus presented is whether the defendants' proposed Curriculum Guide complies with the Court's guideline. The following excerpts from the Curriculum Guide will illustrate its format and content:
There follows for each grade, kindergarten through the sixth grade, a statement of course objectives, teaching methods and materials. This in turn is followed by a series of 16 lesson plans. The initial lesson plan in each grade level consists of an introduction to the Bible. A series of 15 additional lesson plans follow, a majority of which are based upon Old Testament characters and incidents and a minority of which are based upon New Testament characters and incidents.
The plaintiffs have leveled substantial criticism at the defendants' proposed Curriculum Guide. Some of that criticism is directed toward an asserted lack of use by the defendants of appropriate and available professional resources in the development of the new curriculum. Other criticism is
Other criticisms are directed toward a contended lack of removal of religious themes and messages from the lesson plans. These are matters appropriately within the province of the Court and have accordingly received consideration by the Court. After carefully reviewing each lesson plan, however, the Court is of the opinion that, with the exception of lesson 15 in the proposed fourth grade curriculum, each lesson is capable of being taught for its secular, literary or historical worth and without religious emphasis. The Court is of the opinion that this cannot be said as regards lesson 15 of the proposed fourth grade curriculum. That lesson proposes the teaching of the resurrection of Jesus as recounted in the New Testament. The account of the resurrection forms the central statement of the Christian religious faith. Its only reasonable interpretation is a religious interpretation. Its only reasonable message is a religious message. It is difficult to conceive how it might be taught as secular literature or secular history. With the elimination of lesson 15 in the fourth grade curriculum, the Court approves the defendants' Proposed Bible Curriculum Guide.
The plaintiffs have themselves proposed an alternate curriculum guide, together with various options and sources for the development of additional curriculum guides. The Court is of the opinion that these deserve consideration by the defendants and may prove helpful in any future modification or evolution of the elementary school Bible curriculum guide.
The ultimate test of the constitutionality of any course of instruction founded upon the Bible must depend upon class-room performance. It is that which is taught in the classroom that renders a course so founded constitutionally permissible or constitutionally impermissible. If that which is taught seeks either to disparage or to encourage a commitment to a set of religious beliefs, it is constitutionally impermissible in a public school setting. If that which is taught avoids such religious instruction and is confined to objective and non-devotional instruction in biblical literature, biblical history and biblical social customs, all with the purpose of helping students gain "a greater appreciation of the Bible as a great work of literature" and source of "countless works of literature, art and music" or of assisting students acquire "greater insight into the many historical events recorded in the Bible" or of affording students greater insight into the "many social customs upon which the Bible has had a significant influence", all as proposed in the Curriculum Guide, no constitutional barrier would arise to such classroom instruction.
A final judgment will enter in accordance with the Court's former opinion as set forth in Wiley v. Franklin, 468 F.Supp. 133 (1979) and in this memorandum.
Objectives: A—To introduce students to the Bible as a book which has had a great influence on literature, history and world culture. B—To acquaint students with a variety of stories and characters from the Bible. Methods and Materials: A variety of methods and materials may be used, such as: A—Narration . . . B—Audiovisuals . . . C—Art activities . . . D—Music . . .
An illustrative list of lesson titles taken from the initial, middle and concluding lesson titles as set forth in the proposed Bibile Curriculum Guide is as follows:
Kindergarten: Lesson 1—The Bible: Introduction to one of the World's Great Story-books Lesson 2—Narratives of the Beginning Lesson 3—Tower of Babel Lesson 8—David and Goliath; The Twenty-third Psalm Lesson 9—The Judgment of Solomon Lesson 10—Elisha and Naaman Lesson 14—Zacchaeus Lesson 15—"The Good Samaritan" Lesson 16—Jesus Welcomes the Little Children First Grade: Lesson 1—The Bible: From Scrolls to Printed Page Lesson 2—Narratives of the Beginning: Earth, Sun, Moon, Stars, Animals, and Man Lesson 3—Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden Lesson 8—Abraham Lesson 9—Lot, Sodom, and Gomorrah Lesson 10—Belshazzar's Feast Lesson 14—Jesus and the Ten Lepers/Jesus and the Paralytic Lesson 15—Jesus and the Gerasene Swine Lesson 16—"The Prodigal Son" Second Grade: Lesson 1—The Bible: Translations and Versions Lesson 2—Hagar and Ishmael; The Birth of Isaac Lesson 3—The Binding of Isaac Lesson 8—Joseph in Egypt Lesson 9—King Herod Lesson 10—Beheading of John Lesson 14—The Nobleman's Son/Jairus' Daughter Lesson 15—Blind Bartimeus Lesson 16—Jesus Teaches a Lesson in Humility Third Grade: Lesson 1—The Bible: Its Languages and Words Lesson 2—Review of Narratives of Israelites in Egypt Lesson 3—Birth and Childhood of Moses Lesson 8—Moses the Lawgiver Lesson 9—King Herod Lesson 10—The Fall of Jericho Lesson 14—"Pharisee and the Publican" — The Rich Young Ruler Lesson 15—Jesus Praises the Woman Who Seeks Learning Lesson 16—Jesus Defends the "Extravagant" Woman Fourth Grade: Lesson 1—The Bible: Influence on Sciences Lesson 2—Deborah and Barak Lesson 3—Gideon Lesson 8—David the Musician Lesson 9—David and Jonathan Lesson 10—David as King Lesson 14—Jesus Crucified Between Two Thieves Lesson 15—Reports of the Resurrected Jesus Lesson 16—The Stoning of Stephen
Fifth Grade: Lesson 1—The Bible: Literary Types Lesson 2—The Reign of David Lesson 3—Solomon Becomes King Lesson 8—The Babylonian Captivity Lesson 9—Esther Lesson 10—Job Lesson 14—Jesus Fasts in the Wilderness Lesson 15—Jesus Preaches on the Mountain Lesson 16—Saul of Tarsus Becomes a Follower of Jesus Sixth Grade: Lesson 1—Construction of the Biblical Canons Lesson 2—Proverbs Lesson 3—Ecclesiastes Lesson 8—Maccabean Period: Part I Lesson 9—Maccabean Period: Part II Lesson 10—John the Baptizer Lesson 14—The Travels of Paul Lesson 15—The Letters of Paul Lesson 16—John Recounts a Vision on Patmos