September 2017 Church & State - September 2016

Ky. Approves Bill Promoting Public School Bible Classes

  AU admin

In late June, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) signed into law HB 128, which allows public schools to offer a Bible class as an elective. 

According to the bill, the elective should “provide to students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy.”

Americans United voiced opposition to the bill and sent a letter to the state Senate in March urging members to reject HB 128 and outlining potential church-state violation concerns. AU said that the “bill lacks provisions that ensure [such] courses will be taught in accordance with constitutional requirements for curriculum and teacher selection.” 

In the letter, Maggie Garrett, AU’s legislative director, also noted that teachers should be trained about what’s appropriate to teach in a public school Bible class and what’s not, since the Bible must be taught in a nondevotional manner with no attempt made to indoctrinate students. 

“Ensuring that a Bible course is taught objectively and on a secular basis is not an easy task,” Garrett wrote. “Teachers are not, nor should we expect them to be, constitutional scholars, which is why many Bible classes end up violating the Constitution.” 

As the law goes into effect, AU will be monitoring potential church-state separation violations.

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