BOISE, Idaho — Republicans in Idaho have proposed a resolution calling for support for using the Bible alongside public school curriculum.
Resolution 2015-P20 was submitted by Idaho County Chairman Marge Arnzen, and uses state history as the basis of the motion.
“[I]n 1782, the U.S. Congress voted this resolution: ‘The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools,’ and authorized a loan of money to help the printing and distribution of 10,000 copies to be made available to the public primarily for public schools,'” it notes.
The resolution also notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that using the Bible in school for historical purposes is permissible under the Constitution.
“[T]he use of the Bible for literary and historic value is consistent with the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1963 case of Abington School District v. Schempp declared that the Bible is worth studying for its literary qualities and its influence on history,” it states. “[I]n 1980, the Supreme Court ruling of Stone v. Braham stated that ‘the Bible can constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like.’”
Therefore, for these and other reasons, the motion requests that Idaho lawmakers pass a resolution endorsing the use of the Bible in public schools.
“Therefore, be it resolved that the Idaho County Central Committee encourages the Idaho legislature to draft and support a bill stating that the Bible is expressly permitted to be used in Idaho public schools for reference purposes to further the study of literature, comparative religion, English and foreign languages, U.S. and world history, comparative government, law, philosophy, ethics, astronomy, biology, geology, world geography, archaeology, music, sociology, and other topics of study where an understanding of the Bible may be useful or relevant,” it reads.
According to reports, the resolution initially asked that lawmakers propose a bill allowing elective Bible classes “for any of the secular discipline study purposes stated above if students, parents, and/or school district electors request such a course.” However, the language was removed after some expressed concern that the same could be done with the Koran.
Republican Party Committee Executive Director David Johnston told KBOI News that the resolution still leaves the use of the Bible as an option—rather than a requirement—and is meant as a statement of support for a teacher’s right to use it if he or she wishes.
“I don’t see it as a forcing upon anybody or interfering with it,” he said. “Whether it be geography, history, literature or frankly just the study of the world religions; if there is a school district that thinks having the bible as part of the curriculum would be useful, this resolution is basically saying, ‘we support the idea of allowing them to have that tool in their tool box.’
Some outside of the committee are taking issue with the motion because of its references to science and law, stating that Christianity should only be used in history courses but not anything of a legal or scientific nature.