March 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Americans United has warned Arizona legislators about constitutional issues with a bill that would create a Bible study course in public schools.

In a Jan. 30 letter to the House Education Committee, Am­ericans United said HB 2563 needs significant revisions and warned that public schools have found it difficult to offer Bible classes in a constitutional manner.

The letter outlined several problems with the legislation. It does not make clear that a Bible course has to be taught in an objective and non-devotional manner with no attempts to proselytize. It also fails “to include the constitutional requirement that Bible course teachers must be selected in the same manner as other teachers, based upon their academic qualifications.”

AU State Legislative Counsel Amanda Rolat suggested amending the measure to ensure that state and local school districts “are not exposed to costly and lengthy litigation.” Rolat also suggested an alternative to this bill: a comparative religions course, which would be less likely to endorse a specific religion or attempt to indoctrinate students.