Idaho legislators may have finally come to their senses.
Last week, I posted about Senate Bill 1321, which would allow teachers to use the Bible in the classroom whenever they think it would enhance the lesson. That’s already allowed in, say, English class, where you might discuss biblical allusions in literature and where you might want to analyze the Bible’s more poetic passages… but this bill would permit teachers to use the Bible anywhere and everywhere. Even in their science classes.
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.
Yesterday, however, as the Senate State Affairs Committee discussed the legislation, they suggested making some drastic changes to blunt any harmful effects of this bill:
The Senate State Affairs Committee voted unanimously to send Senate Bill 1342 to the floor for amendments. And the committee discussion offered a glimpse into how the bill might be reworked.
For one thing, senators said they wanted to delete references to using the Bible to teach astronomy, biology and geology. They also said they wanted to rework the bill to address not only the Bible, but other religious texts.
Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, suggested striking the sciences from this list — as a safeguard against using the Bible to teach creationism. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against teaching creationism in public schools.
All of those are good amendments. If passed, they would make the bill essentially pointless since the Bible is already allowed to be discussed in public school classrooms. But this is a typical conservative Christian strategy: Pass meaningless bills that reiterate just how awesome God is, to dupe the base into thinking you’re using the government to promote Jesus.
As long as it’s symbolic, I don’t really care. I just wish Idaho would elect representatives who cared about actual education instead of symbolic gestures that accomplish nothing of value.