Over the weekend, the Idaho Republican Party’s State Central Committee met to discuss possible rule changes, how to conduct primary voting, and proposals for potential pieces of legislation.
That last item isn’t just theoretical, either. The GOP controls the House and Senate by large margins and the Governor is also a Republican. So bad ideas can become law without much opposition.
That’s why there’s reason to worry about one of the ideas coming out of the weekend meeting: A proposal to bring the Bible into Idaho public schools:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That the Idaho County Central Committee encourages the Idaho legislature to draft and support a bill stating that 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, U.S. 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;
First of all, there’s no law banning the Bible from being used as a point of reference in class. There’s good reason to discuss the impact of the Bible in world history, just as there would be in philosophy and comparative religion classes. You can even talk about it in a “Bible as literature” class. If students want to write about the Bible, that’s fine, too, assuming it follows all the other guidelines for the assignment. And certainly, no atheist group has ever tried to ban students from bringing the Bible to school.
But what justification could anyone possibly have for the relevance of the Bible in astronomy, biology, geology, etc? There is none whatsoever.
That’s where this proposal goes from being irrelevant to being illegal. It’s just another way to get Creationism into public schools.
The proposal also included this:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Idaho County Republican Central Committee encourages our Idaho legislators to support a bill stating that public schools may offer elective study courses of the Bible for any of the secular discipline study purposes stated above if students, parents, and/or school district electors request such a course within their respective district.
That’s legal if there’s interest and if it’s taught in a secular way, but that just doesn’t happen very often in practice.
However, according to Melissa Davlin, who observed the meeting, that’s the only part of the proposal that was scratched from the final version:
The committee also passed a resolution that supported the use of Bibles in school as instructional and reference texts. Some members of the committee expressed concern with other religious texts, such as the Quran, being used in the same way, while others questioned whether a change would violate the Idaho State Constitution. Ultimately, the divided committee amended the resolution to take out a phrase supporting classes on the Bible in school.
They got rid of the part that could be legal, and left in parts that could easily violate the law.
Way to go, Idaho GOP.
I suspect it won’t be too long before a state legislator sponsors this disastrous bill.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Steve for the link)