The meeting of the Camrose school board Thursday was supposed to be about getting one of its schools to abide by the board's request to drop a questionable Bible verse from its vision document.

But now the relationship between that school and the board is up in the air.

Parents and supporters of the Cornerstone Christian Academy packed the meeting of the Battle River School Division board after they were invited by Deanna Margel, the Christian academy's chairperson.

She was worried the school board would eventually try to dictate what Bible verses the academy could teach.

"There shouldn't be restrictions on what's considered offensive," said Margel. "That's a violation of freedom of expression and freedom of speech."

Deanna Margel

Deanna Margel fears the Battle River School Division wants to restrict what Bible verses the school can teach. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Several Bible verses were to be included in a "school vision and purpose" document for the academy, which is located in nearby Kingman, Alta.

One reference, from Corinthians, suggests that neither "fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate ... shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Battle River board trustees said they believe the verses might contravene Alberta's human rights code.

'The Cornerstone society has compromised our reputation, risked our safety and broken our trust.' - Laurie Skori, school board chair

At Thursday's meeting, the board was planning to update the public that the academy had agreed to refrain from using the scripture.

But instead, board chair Laurie Skori spoke about Cornerstone's chairwoman taking issue publicly with the request.

"We are disappointed by the way in which the [Cornerstone] society has turned our discussion into a public spectacle," said Skori.

"We are now at the centre of a firestorm as a result of information distributed without our knowledge, by the Cornerstone Christian School Society board and their partner in this process, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms," she said.

"Hate mail is flowing, misinformation and fear-mongering are widespread. The Cornerstone society has compromised our reputation, risked our safety and broken our trust."

Laurie Skori

Laurie Skori, chair of the Battle River School Division, says the board is not interested in deciding what is appropriate for the Cornerstone Christian Academy to teach. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

The board moved a motion to meet with the academy's board to discuss whether the academy would follow the rules of the public school board before June 27.

Skori added that the school board does not want or intend to restrict any of the school's religious teachings.

"The board does not want to get involved in things like that. I think it's up to the school to decide what things are appropriate or not," Skori said.

Margel said she is hoping both parties can come to an agreement for the benefit of the school, its students and their parents.

"Worst-case scenario is that the society board would not be reinstated to operate the licence to our school and we would be shut down," Margel said

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story said the Bible verse in question was in a student handbook. The story has been changed to clarify that the board's request was to drop the verse from the school's vision document.
    Jul 13, 2017 2:51 PM MT