In Idaho, An Outdated Law Mandating Bible Reading Will Be Replaced by a Law That’s Equally Useless

An Idaho bill that allows teachers to use the Bible in their classrooms when it would enhance the lesson — something that was already allowed — passed on a 31-3 vote yesterday. But there’s one benefit that we haven’t mentioned yet.

First, a little background: Last month, we learned about Senate Bill 1321, which was problematic because it permitted teachers to use the Bible even in science classes.

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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, United States 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. No student will be required to use any religious texts for reference purposes if the student or parents of the student object.

There’s simply no reason anyone would ever need to reference the Bible in Astronomy, Geology, Archaeology, or Biology class. Or any class that relies on facts and observation and reason and logic.

The bill was soon amended to delete references to astronomy, biology and geology. Which was a good sign, but this was still meaningless legislation. No one was ever stopping teachers from referencing the Bible in, say, a class on English literature.

Now, that bill is through the Senate and heading to the House. But there’s at least one benefit to what is otherwise just a symbolic waste of time:

Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, said current Idaho law includes an outdated section requiring daily reading of selections from the Bible in Idaho’s public schools, from a list prepared by the state Board of Education. “I think we would all agree, senators, that… this legislation does a better job than that,” he said. [Sen. Sheryl] Nuxoll’s bill repeals that outdated section, replacing its language with her proposal.

So an archaic law that mandated Bible readings will soon be gone for good.

Too bad it’s being replaced by another law Idaho didn’t need.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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