Friday, March 20, 2009

Weekday Religious Education thrives in western Virginia

Alleghany's Weekday Religious Education program received some good press in the Roanoke Times in February with a front page article about their thriving program.

In "Religious breakaway: Weekday Bible study in Alleghany County ... Some students get a once-a-week break for 'Weekday Religious Education,' " WRE's Virginia coordinator JoAnne Shirley was quoted about the program:
"We've had some battles," recalled JoAnne Shirley, state coordinator for WRE, which is getting ready to celebrate its 80th anniversary later this year. Most recently, parents and officials in Staunton debated the merits of the program in 2005.

"When it first started [in 1929], it spread across the whole state," she said. "For various reasons, which I'm not sure of, over those 80 years some of the different schools have left."

The religious education classes gained a measure of legitimacy with the 1952 Zorach v. Clauson decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, which gives school districts the opportunity to release children once a week for outside religious education programs. Today, about 33 states have released-time programs, as do about 20 school districts in Virginia, mostly along the Interstate 81 corridor, Shirley said.
Read the entire article complete with photos here.

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