Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona just signed a bill into law that would allow the teaching of bible courses as an elective in public schools.
According to HB 2563, “A school district or charter school may offer an elective course pertaining to how the Bible has influenced western culture for pupils in grades nine through twelve.”
Personally, I think more students should study the bible. I think that it creates atheists.
However, I’m unconvinced that honest study is what this bill was built to pursue. Just like religious people will lie in court when they say “In God We Trust” has only historic significance and none for religion, so too, I believe, are they willing to lie here.
Which is why this bit is worrisome.
That’s pretty vague, since “appropriate historical context and in good faith” doesn’t really lock down what would constitute those things. Left up to many of the teachers who will want to teach this class to acquire an air of factual credibility for their religious falsehoods, that wording could be severely bent if a student records the teacher being bad and calls a lawyer.
“A teacher who instructs a course offered under this section in its appropriate historical context and in good faith shall be immune from civil liability and disciplinary action,” reads the bill.
If you’re a student at any public school that has one of these classes, or if you have a student at such a school, consider looking up the laws for recording people in that state. In some states you can do it without their knowledge. But even if you must declare that you’re recording someone, simply tell the teacher you’re recording the lectures. And, if you feel the teacher is proselytizing or teaching that Christianity is true, contact the FFRF or myself.
Taught well, these classes could be a very beneficial educational tool. But I don’t, for a minute, believe that most of them will be taught well.