July/August 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

If Arizona schools choose to offer elective Bible study courses, the state must design and implement uniform standards for both the curriculum and teacher certification, Americans United said recently.

In a May 17 letter to Dr. John Huppenthal, superintendent of public instruction at the Arizona Department of Education, AU State Legislative Analyst Amanda Rolat said there are “risks inherent” to these types of classes because schools usually have difficulty teaching them from a “secular, objective perspective.”

Arizona passed HB 2563 in April, which allows public schools to teach elective Bible classes, presenting the text as foundational to Western literature and art. Rolat acknowledged that the Bible can be a useful instructional tool if taught carefully, but expressed concern about this bill. 

“[ It] lacks assurances that the [Bible] course is academically sound, fails to protect students’ religious liberties and lacks rules that ensure proper teacher qualifications,” she said.

As a result, the constitutional concerns that these types of Bible courses often raise are “even more likely” to occur here, she said.