Two Kentucky Republicans have introduced a bill that would make the Christian bible, especially the crucifixion of Jesus, the trials of Job and the Ten Commandments part of the public high school curriculum.
Republican Reps. DJ Johnson and Wesley Morgan say the bill would provide a “prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture.”
“Whether you believe that it’s the word of God or you think it’s complete fiction, you can’t deny the impact it’s had on our culture,” Johnson said of the Bible.
The lawmakers say this bill is not meant to promote Christianity and that schools should remain neutral on the topic of religion. The bill, however, does not ask educators to talk about other religions.
Jim Potash, president of the Kentucky Secular Society, is not buying the neutrality claim.
“I don’t think it really would be just teaching about religion,” Potash said. “I think I’d have to worry about them actually preaching religion.”
If any school is going to teach religion it must be a world religion or comparative religion course in which all religions are discussed openly and a healthy debate among students can be had there.
The answer is not treating the bible as if it has some usefulness outside of religion.
Even religious scholars agree the bill is problematic.
“We want to take (the texts) seriously as sources from that time period without treating them uncritically as straightforward history,” said Mark Chancey, a professor at Southern Methodist University. “That’s a delicate dance because the minute teachers begin treating the Bible as straightforward, completely unproblematic history, they’ve slipped into making theological claims.”
This bill, which is not the first of its kind in the state comes only weeks after Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin declared 2017 the “Year of the Bible.”
Any claim that this is not a covert operation to push Christianity on Kentucky students is total nonsense.