Oklahoma Bill Seeks to Protect Rights of Schools Offering Elective Bible Courses

School Bible pdOKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A proposed bill in Oklahoma aims to protect public schools in the state from legal action should they decide to offer Bible courses as electives for students.

Senate Bill 48 was introduced by Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) in light of the opposition that a school district faced last year for agreeing to implement an elective course offered by Steve Green, the president of the popular craft chain Hobby Lobby.

As previously reported, the Mustang School Board had agreed last April to move forward with the “Museum of the Bible” curriculum presented by Green, who also serves as the overseer of the traveling Bible exhibit “Passages.” He had introduced the course to the school board in 2013, explaining to those present that he would like to offer an introductory course on “the Old and New Testament’s impact on society.”

Green had been invited by Mustang School District Superintendent Sean McDaniel to speak about the proposed class for Mustang High School, and 170 students selected the course as their first choice for an elective when polled about the matter.

But the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS) took issue with the course, stating that it was unconstitutional. Working alongside AUSCS and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), FFRF then filed a freedom of information request to obtain documents that would show the level of the school board’s involvement in the curriculum.

Following its second request, the groups received an email from McDaniel, outlining that the district had dropped its plans to offer the course.

But now, Sen. Loveless is seeking to protect districts such as Mustang from legal action in the event that they feel pressured to cancel religious courses simply because of to outside pressure from atheists or church-state separation groups.

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“The district and others across Oklahoma have shown interest in having such a class, as an elective, and I am just wanting to keep them from feeling threatened of lawsuit or from not offering a class such as this,” he told the Huffington Post.

“The [Mustang] district projected that there were going to be between 20-30 students interested in the elective. In actuality, 180 students signed up,” he also told the Enterprise Examiner. “They were extremely disappointed in having the class cancelled.”

Loveless said that he had been approached by constituents who urged him to craft a bill that would protect schools in such instances.

“I don’t see anything wrong with [a provision] that gives local school districts the ability to study the historical aspects of the Bible. That’s my reasoning for the bill,” he added. “It is not a forced class and this would not be a ‘Sunday School’ type course. We are not endorsing one religion over the other.”

“A school district and its employees and agents shall incur no liability as a result of providing an elective course in the objective study of religion or the Bible,” the bill reads.

If passed, the legislation would go into effect this summer before the new school year begins.

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  • James Grimes

    It’s a sad state of affairs when a state has to pass laws to neutralize the effects of The Useless organizations.

    • infidel1000

      Yes, always redundant, unconstitutional, or completely nonsensical ones.

  • BarkingDawg

    This would be a totally pointless gesture by the state

    All anyone would have to do would be to sue in a federal court, as most, if not all of these cases are.

    this proposed bill would have zero effect on shielding the school districts from a judgment made in a federal court.

  • Fundisi

    The Left fears any mention of the Bible, because they know it has the power to cause children to think, to reason and that many will find the best answers for life in God’s Word. There is nothing in the Constitution that would deny the states or school districts the right to offer an elective, voluntary course on the impact of the Bible on our history, but atheists and liberals are desperate to deny any connection or any impact, because they know it would expose their lies and threaten their desire to build a godless socialist utopia in America.

    • infidel1000

      That is patently untrue. In the first place, most rational unbelievers think that the best way to turn people away from the bible and christianity is to have them read it objectively. It is so full of violence, brutality, and genocide, among other atrocities, (many of them committed or commissioned by the star himself, god), that many who have read it in a non-indoctrinational environment have become atheists or self-identified non-believers. Of course, churches and Sunday schools rely on repetitious long-term indoctrination to ingrain religion in children and produce fully blown believers. The stories in the bible are designed expressly for stopping rational thought and for following unquestionably the mythology contained within. The last thing religion wants is children learning to think for themselves.

  • Lark62

    What is truly sad is when a representative proposes a law that does nothing but repeat current law and doesn’t even know it.

    Classes about religion are fine and completely legal. You can say “the bible says X”. You just can’t say “the bible is right when it says X.” The class proposed by the Greens was illegal because it aimed to teach kids that one religion is the right one. That is the job of parents, not the school.

    As an atheist, I want my kids to learn about religion. I would like them to understand the meaning of the holidays celebrated by different people and the primary beliefs of different religions. This is part of being a citizen in our world.

    • Taria Watson

      The class was going to be an ELECTIVE. Meaning students didn’t have to take the class as a requirement for graduation.

      • prinefan

        The myths of gods and the scam of religions have no place in our public schools, at all, ever.

    • Susan Moore

      Please read “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel, a former atheist who wanted proof and found it.

  • Edward Caffray

    Since the course is elective any objections seem pointless.

  • SFBruce

    If this were a scholarly study of the Bible, I’d be all for it, but that’s not what Green has proposed.

  • JeromeMac

    These bible classes are nothing more than opportunities to promote Christianity. They aren’t taught objectively, but as Christianity is true. That isn’t the purpose or job of government. Anyway, why does Christianity need the help of the government in Oklahoma, anyway?