Legislators all across the United States are introducing “Bible literacy” bills that would allow for elective classes in public schools that teach the Old Testament and the New Testament and their impact.
So far 6 different states have produced Bible literacy bills including Alabama, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia.
These various bills would either encourage public schools to have Bible literacy elective class or even require them to offer the option in order to teach the historical significance of the Bible.
Various legislators that are pushing for the literacy classes in schools believe that students should have the option to not just study world religions in their history classes, but to be able to look at the sacred text in a deeper way.
“The Bible is an integral part of our society and deserves a place in the classroom,” said state Rep. Aaron McWilliams of (R- North Dakota).
Rep McWilliams co-sponsored a bill in North Dakota that would require the states public schools to offer a Bible literacy elective.
Bible literacy classes have a legislative history
In 2018, three Bible literacy bills were considered in Alabama, Iowa, and West Virginia.
Just the year before, in 2017, a Bible study bill was signed into law in Kentucky by Gov. Matt Bevin. The bill was similar to those being written this year and served as a guide to public high schools on what electives they should offer, which included the Bible and Hebrew scriptures as well.
Not only has there been a push for education regarding elective options, but a push for the national motto of “In God We Trust” to be posted in public schools.
Bills introducing just that have been introduced in Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, and South Carolina, this year alone.
State Senator Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) recently proposed a bill in Indiana that adds the national motto to schools, and also would add a biblical studies section to their world religion classes.
“I think it’s good to remind people of our national motto and that God is who we really place our trust in,” Kruse said. “This is how we came about as a country.”
Earlier this year, President Trump tweeted about the Bible literacy legislation, commanding legislators on the idea.
” Starting to make a turn back? Great!” He tweeted.
While many are commending this effort, including the President of the United States, others are pushing back as equally hard.
Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, argued that the legislation was all part of a grand plan to force Christian beliefs on children.
“State legislators should not be fooled that these bills are anything more than part of a scheme to impose Christian beliefs on public schoolchildren,” said Laser.
Doug Jacobson, the pastor of Eureka Baptist Church in Richland, Missouri, and elementary superintendent at the small public Swedeborg R-3 School District, provides a middle ground for those that want the classes and those that don’t.
Jacobson pointed out that instead of having a class that focuses on a single religion, why not have a comparative religion class instead.
“Why not open it up to world religions and all different faiths, then you’re not trying to proselytize anyone into any particular religion or denomination,” he said.