Kentucky Senate Approves Bill Authorizing Elective Public School Course on the Bible

Bible Acts Credit Billy Alexander-compressedFRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Senate has approved a bill authorizing the creation of an elective social studies course on the Bible in public schools.

S.B. 278 directs the Kentucky Board of Education to “promulgate administrative regulations” for the course, which may include an elective study on the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament, or both.

The legislation outlines that the purpose of the course is to “teach students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy.”

Sponsor Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, told the Senate Education Committee on Thursday that the course will serve historical purposes as opposed to religious instruction.

“What this does is to allow Bible literacy courses in the form of a social studies elective,” she said. “This bill would not have religious connotation as much as a historical connotation.”

“A course under this section shall not endorse, favor, or promote, or disfavor or show hostility toward, any particular religion or nonreligious faith or religious perspective,” the proposed bill further notes.

The committee unanimously approved S.B. 278 following the hearing, sending the matter on to the full Senate for a vote, which likewise placed its stamp of approval on the move on Monday.

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“I am happy to see this bill moving forward,” Webb told The Independent. “I had a Bible class in high school and it was very beneficial to me from a historical position.”

But the Anti-Defamation League is expressing concern that the course could result in proselytization even though Webb states that the course’s purpose is solely historical in nature.

“Although the current version of the bill incorporates constitutional standards, additional safeguards are necessary. The legislation does not oblige course instructors to receive training on how to teach about the Bible in a constitutional manner and fails to provide the resources needed for such training,” it wrote in a statement.

“Without this training, it would be all too easy for these Bible courses to lead—intentionally or inadvertently—to unconstitutional proselytizing or endorsement of religion, which would inevitably lead to students feeling excluded and schools being subject to costly lawsuits,” the League continued.

As previously reported, the first textbook used in the American colonies even before the nation’s founding, “The New England Primer,” was largely focused on the Scriptures, and was stated to be popular in public and private schools alike until approximately the early 1900’s. It used mostly the King James Bible as reference, and spoke much about sin, salvation and proper behavior.

“Save me, O God, from evil all this day long, and let me love and serve Thee forever, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son,” it read.

Many of the Founders’ children learned to read from the primer.

Harvard University, the first university founded in America, possessed the motto “Truth for Christ and the Church.” It was named after minister John Havard.

“Let every scholar be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life. Therefore, to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning,” the institution declared.


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  • Emmanuel

    Kentucky will probably hire atheists to teach the courses.

    • Oboehner

      That’ll be a hack-job.

      • Elie Challita

        Nah, we’re pretty much the only people who can teach the Bible without proselytizing.

        • Oboehner

          And Ken Ham can teach evolution.

          • Elie Challita

            Of course. We all need a little comic relief.

          • Oboehner

            Evolution IS pretty funny.

  • Michael C

    The Kentucky senate has also just approved a bill that overturns local/citywide ordinances that protect gay people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

    In the vast majority of the State of Kentucky, just as in the majority of the U.S., it’s perfectly legal to deny housing, employment, and public accommodations on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation. There are a few cities in Kentucky that have chosen to protect gay citizens from discrimination on the local level. This proposed new statewide legislation would prohibit individual cities/counties/municipalities from enacting their own nondiscrimination laws.

    The fine representatives in the Kentucky senate sure are making some interesting decisions!

    • Guest

      doesn’t that bill actually allow religious discrimination for virtually any reason?

      • Michael C

        Well no, Christians would still be protected from discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs.

        • Guest

          Not sure from what I’m reading:

          SB 180 does not amend KRS 446.350 but does create a new Section of KRS Chapter 446 to address a similar subject.

          Subsection (1) of the new Section defines “Protected activities” to mean actions by people commissioned, employed, hired, retained, or otherwise used by the public or the government to provide customized, artistic, expressive, creative, ministerial, or spiritual goods or services, or judgments, attestations, or other commissions that involve protected rights. The subsection also defines “Protected rights” to mean the rights of persons to be free from governmental actions that impair, impede, infringe upon, or otherwise restrict the exercise of any right guaranteed by the United States Constitution or the Constitution of Kentucky, including but not limited to a person’s right of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and right to peaceable assembly.

          Subsection (2) prohibits the government from compelling, “actions, goods, services, judgments, attestations, or other commissions that conflict with protected rights.”

          Subsection (4) provides that a court, commission, or public agency shall not punish (by fine, imprisonment, or other means) a protected activity provider for actions or inactions arising from or related to providing protected activities or refusing to provide protected activities:

           unless a court finds that the complaining person or the government has proven by clear and convincing evidence that the person or the government had a compelling governmental interest in infringing upon the specific act or refusal to act and had used the least restrictive means to further that interest.

          Seems it would be for any belief.

          • Michael C

            This law cannot allow businesses to violate state and federal nondiscrimination laws.

            Refusing to “participate” in an interfaith wedding by selling flowers is still prohibited by state and federal law.

            Refusing to “participate” in an interracial wedding by selling cake is still prohibited by state and federal law.

          • Guest

            right, I it’s going to be tossed but it’s not like the one in Missouri trying to give special rights to particular viewpoints.

          • Michael C

            The Missouri law is at least honest about that fact that it’s only purpose is to allow businesses to refuse service to gay people (and only gay people).

    • http://www.bing.com/ Martin Smit

      What’s this “discrimination” talk? Surely you should be against “unfair discrimination”?

    • acontraryview

      Quite hypocritical given all the rhetoric about “local control”.

  • The Last Trump

    This is what a freedom loving, free thinking society looks like.
    Open to all ideas and points of view.
    Only cowardly totalitarians seek to ban opinions that don’t match their own.

    • gizmo23

      Doesn’t this bill take away freedom?

    • Jalapeno

      There’s a difference between banning something and believing that government money shouldn’t be going to teaching it.

    • Herb Planter

      do only cowards ban rape and murder etc ? it’s a matter of opinion after all.

  • Guest

    still don’t understand why any Christian would want this – secular opinions will be just as correct and evangelicals hearing people talk about how the Red Sea wasn’t parted, other translation and the differences between them, and the like doesn’t seem like something they’d want for their kids. I mean it coukd be dealt with as a book of myths by members of the clas and there will be no way for the teacher to control how it’s discussed.

    • Asemodeus

      The one thing conservatives always keep trying to do is indoctrinate other parents children without their permission. While at the same time, ironically, claiming to be all for parental rights.

  • Herb Planter

    Can’t help but wonder how mortified ppl from back then would be to see the world today. If only ppl today would follow Jesus like they did back then. So many things wouldn’t be a problem anymore. Oh his glory is righteous and holy! Is everything just gonna keep gettin worse for the world till he returns? Everyday the blind erode more and more 🙁 Good thing we have the lord with us, he give us love and hope and happiness and peace and humility etc. 🙂 I think they wouldn’t be to surprised to see the world in the shape it is.

  • http://www.bing.com/ Martin Smit

    How is it that a free country has to pass a bill to allow a religious text to be taught? Imagine having to pass a bill that allowed the study of the constitution. Imagine passing a bill that allowed the study of the first world war. Imagine passing a bill that allowed the study of evolution. Imagine not living in a free country.

  • Elie Challita

    I’m all for this: I can’t wait to see teachers telling students all about the multiple genocides, rapes, and divinely performed abortions in the bible.

  • parquee_hundido

    Every person needs at least a rudimentary understanding of the biblical narrative, if only to understand so much of the art and literature of Europe and America. The question “Is this really true?” does not even need to come up in the class, thought ought to study the Bible the same way they would approach a Dickens novel or a Shakespeare play or one of the epics of Homer, take it “as is” and don’t use the class as an excuse to either bash or promote Christianity. Inevitably, however, if the class is taught by a teacher who is known to be Christian, some atheist is going to enroll her kid in the class and pull a Madalyn Murray O’Hair, have the kid watch for some evidence that he is being discriminated against, or that the teacher is “evangelizing.” It’s probably going to be a disaster, with atheists already poised with their familiar battle cry “I’ll sue you?”

  • Chrissy Vee

    🙂