Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

State Laws Allowing Bible Electives

Bills have been introduced in the West Virginia and Oklahoma state legislatures to encourage public schools to offer Bible electives. These electives aren’t a new idea—they already exist in a few places in Texas, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. They’re usually history courses. They’re certainly not devotional religious studies.

In West Virginia, the bill calls for schools to create electives on the history of the Old and New Testaments. The representative who introduced the bill said that he’s had great support from his constituents, with at least 95% supporting the bill.

Oklahoma’s bill is meant to protect schools that already teach Bible electives. Last year, an Oklahoma school district cancelled its Bible elective after threat of a lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. But the new bill says that districts and their employees will have no liability as a result of elective Bible courses.

Of course, there’s already been pushback against both bills. A West Virginia teachers’ association has already complained, and there have been protests at the Oklahoma Capitol. Groups have claimed that allowing students to choose to take a course on biblical history is an endorsement of religion. The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma has been particularly vocal.

The Bible is a historic document, just like everything else from the ancient world, and it’s been foundational to our culture. Of course students should be able to study it in school! These courses, remember, are electives that students can avoid if they choose, and it’s not as though students don’t have opportunities in the public schools to study other religions. It’s Christianity that’s usually ignored. I’m thrilled to see there’s strong public support for both these bills, and I hope other states will do likewise in scheduling elective courses on the Bible.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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