Blue Ridge Christian Academy, a financially struggling Christian school, says its controversial "Dinosaurs: Genesis and the Gospel" science quiz has sparked donations from around the world.
A money-strapped South Carolina Christian school says it is getting an unexpected financial boost from the controversy over its fourth-grade "science" quiz about dinosaurs and the Bible.
Administrators at Blue Ridge Christian Academy, a private K4-12 school in Landrum, S.C., warned parents on March 28 the school might have to close after this school year if it couldn’t raise $200,000 to make next year's budget. The recent "atheist controversy" has resulted in a round of much-needed donations from around the world, sparking hope that the school, which this year had 132 students, may be able to stay open for the 2013-14 school year, officials said.
Blue Ridge made national headlines last month after a friend of a parent who has a child enrolled at the school posted a photo to the Internet of a fourth-grade science quiz titled "Dinosaurs: Genesis and the Gospel." The quiz sparked heated online and offline debate about the appropriateness of teaching creationism to kids.
"The media attention has brought awareness of the school reaching from the upstate of South Carolina, throughout the U.S. and into over 70 countries around the world. Donations have been given ranging in amounts from $1 - $1,000," the school said in a press release this week. "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 Blue Ridge Christian Academy, said Friday the donations so far total more than $5,000.
"We're just really thankful that so many people around the world are supporting us," she told MSN News. "We are hopeful that through this we will get partners in the $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 range who would want to come alongside us and partner with us."
AND ON THE SEVENTH DAY . . .
The child who took the quiz scored 100 percent by correctly answering such questions as "True or false: The earth is billions of years old" and "True or false: Dinosaurs lived millions of years ago." In each case, the correct answer was "false." Another question asks: "On what day did God make dinosaurs?" with the correct answer being "the sixth day."
The answers fall in line with "young Earth creationism," the belief that God created the universe and all life about 6,000 years ago in six 24-hour days, and that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs.
Critics lashed out at the quiz — and the school — on social media.
"How is this even legal? I mean, come on! It's like if they were teaching 2+2 = 5, can they really do that?" one person wrote on Reddit.
"That kind of garbage is ridiculous," another poster wrote. "Every child deserve a good education that includes math, arts, humanities, languages and actual sciences. Science class should be taught by qualified teachers only. Education is too important to give it away to unqualified religious nuts. When we fail educating properly the children we fail as a society."
The quiz was based on a DVD distributed by Answers in Genesis, an apologetics, or Christian-defending, ministry that believes in the literal interpretation of the first book of the Bible.
Ken Ham and Mark Looy, co-founders of Answers in Genesis, recently appealed for donations to Blue Ridge Christian Academy, saying atheists were "going after Christians and Christian institutions that teach God’s Word beginning in Genesis."
"At AiG, we want to help this school be a good example to the entire Christian community of how all believers should defend our faith and stand our ground so that more of our children can be rescued from this evil world," they wrote.
Angie Dentler, a teacher and publicist at Blue Ridge Christian Academy, said the school has received a range of responses to the quiz.
"The people who have reached out to directly contact us . . . have been mainly overwhelming positive. The negative, angry, hateful comments we've received have come in through postal mail, email and some phone calls," Dentler told MSN News. "Our Facebook page has been hit very, very hard, to the point that we have three of us monitoring it full time because of language and hateful comments."
Blue Ridge Christian Academy said its science curriculum does include the theory of evolution. The school also noted that it does not receive tax vouchers, and student financial aid is funded by private donors.
"The assumption that this (creationism) is all we teach or that we don’t also teach opposing viewpoints is erroneous," Baker said.
In the press release, she added, "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."
As for whether the school will be able to raise enough money to reopen next year, Baker told MSN News, "At this point, we're not ready to say."
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