Four North Dakota legislators have filed a bill, SB 2136, that would require public school districts to offer a semester-long Bible course to students.
Districts would have a choice between teaching the Old Testament, New Testament, or a mix of both. Keep in mind these are not necessarily courses that teach the Bible as literature as some districts across the country have offered. There’s actually nothing in the bill that spells out what the courses would look like — or even if they’re objective and secular. For all we know, you could rip the curriculum from a local church’s Sunday school class and nothing would need to change.
The bill goes on to say that the Bible course would count for 0.5 of the 3.0 social studies units required for graduation. In other words, instead of taking a semester-long course on U.S. government or economics or sociology or world history, you could replace it with Biblical fiction and still have it “count” on your transcript as an official social studies class.
Here’s the entire bit of relevant text, in a section about the courses every high school in the state must offer students:
One-half unit of the old testament of the Bible or the new testament of the Bible, or one-half unit of instruction covering both the old and new testaments of the Bible.
The bill was introduced by State Senators Oley Larsen and Jordan Kannianen along with State Representatives Jim Kasper and Aaron McWilliams. All are Republicans… because of course they are.
It’s possible this bill could be dead on arrival.
Forcing public schools to offer a Bible course — but not a course promoting any other religion — could easily be considered a violation of the Establishment Clause (even if students aren’t forced to take them). Schools would be much better off offering students a comparative religions course instead. But these legislators are making it very clear no other religion matters.
(Thanks to Mitch for the link)