May 2016 Church & State - May 2015

Idaho Governor Vetoes Bible-In-Schools Bill

  AU admin

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) last month vetoed a bill that would have expressly permitted public school teachers to use the Bible during classroom instruction, calling it unconstitutional.

The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll (R-Cottonwood) claimed that teachers were “scared” to use the Bible, and several other lawmakers agreed. But critics pointed out that nothing in state law would prevent teachers from using the Bible or other religious books in an objective manner in class.

Otter said the bill would likely spur lawsuits.

“I have deep respect and appreciation for the Bible as religious doctrine as well as a piece of historic literature,” Otter wrote in a veto message. “However, allowing S1342 to become law is a direct contravention to the Idaho Constitution and it could result for the loss of funding and costly litigation for Idaho public schools.”

Americans United strongly opposed the bill. State Legislative Counsel Amrita Singh wrote to Otter urging him not to sign the bill if it reached his desk.

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