VIA| Last Thursday, March 10, the Kentucky Education Committee unanimously agreed that educators should be allowed to teach Bible literacy classes in the state’s public schools. This forces the state’s Board of Education to draft curriculum for an elective social studies course on the Bible.
According to Senate Bill 278, the elective course would help students understand biblical content, characters, poetry, and elements of narrative. The class will focus on teaching students the analytic skills needed to determine the efficacy of the Bible and if it’s teachings pertain to contemporary society and culture.
The liberal state legislators. who pushed for the bill, emphasize that the class will be educational and objective -not religious.
“Senate Bill 278 would not teach the Bible — it would teach about the Bible,” said Democratic State Sen. Gerald A. Neal. Thus giving students an opportunity to choose for themselves. “The Bible isn’t something we should run away from or to.”
The Democratic State senator Robin L. Webb, who introduced the bill on March 3, said the class would be different from other literature classes.
“I remember what it looked like when I had it as literature and it was just like the dissection and discussion of any other book,” Webb said. “I’m optimistic, cautiously optimistic like I am with any bill here.”
“This bill would not have a religious connotation as much as a historical connotation,” she said.
But objectors, including the bipartisan ACLU of Kentucky, say Bible lessons probably won’t be taught without bias.
“Because although there certainly are acceptable ways to teach about the Bible to public school students — such as teaching comparative religion classes or about the Bible’s relationship to literature, art or music — the fact remains that it is difficult, in practice, to do so in a constitutionally permissible manner,” said William E. Sharp, the legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky. “Moreover, the ACLU of Kentucky maintains that parents and religious leaders, not government employees, should teach religious beliefs to children.”