Arizona is about to pass a bill that will allow public schools to teach a class on the Bible. The state senate has passed the bill by a count of 21-9 and all it needs is for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to approve it, which is pretty much a foregone conclusion.
Under the proposal, the state Board of Education must design a high school elective course titled "The Bible and its influence on Western Culture," which would include lessons on the history, literature and influence of the Old and New testaments on laws, government and culture, among other aspects of society.
As you can see, the course will be an elective one that students won't be required to take. They also said that 'the course must follow state and federal laws in maintaining religious neutrality, and credits from the course would count toward student graduation. Students are also not to be required to use a specific version of the Bible'.
It sounds above board, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this bill is really about finding a way to shove their religion into the classroom. After all, there are plenty of churches around that will gleefully teach you about the Bible if you walk through their doors.
I've always liked the idea of a comparative religions course because I think religion effects pretty much every aspect of our lives from our laws (this is a good example) to world events. However, this class isn't a comparative religion class. It's strictly the Bible and I find it hard to believe that they would even contemplate - let alone legislate - the same type of course for another religion. I doubt very much that we'll see an elective Koran course in the near future.
This course is supposed to cover the history, literature and influence that the Bible and by extension, Christianity, has had on Western culture.
Proud, who originally sponsored the bill had this to say:
"A lot of it has to do with debunking a lot of ignorance that our districts are trying to force upon the teachers," Proud told The Republic in January. "There are people out there who hate the Bible and everything about it. That's fine, but don't deprive our children of biblical literature because of your personal feelings."
And further down:
"It is everywhere around us, and to say that I don't want my child exposed to that, then we might as well not have air and breathe because it is implemented into our society," Proud previously told MyFox Phoenix.
I'm not sure who is being 'deprived' of biblical literature. Hell, I own three of them and have one on my e-reader that I downloaded for free to boot. You can find them for free, in a church and even in most hotel rooms. The other concern would be that children could be taking another course instead of this one. Unless it compares all of the mainstream religions of today from a secular, historical point of view, I don't see how or why this bill is needed or how it will really help children who can have access to this information almost anywhere.
On top of all that, there are private religious schools. Do we really need Bible study in a secular school?
I wonder if this bill will be challenged in court, how it will play out and how this will effect (if at all) the secular nature of public schools.
So do you, reader, have any concerns about this bill or do you think it's a good idea and a completely legitimate bill that you would feel confident throwing your full support behind?