Florida “Democratic” State Rep. Kimberly Daniels skipped the first day of the legislative session earlier this month to tape a segment for Pat Robertson‘s The 700 Club, and that segment is finally online.
In it, she talks about HB 195, her bill to require public schools to offer elective Bible classes. Keep in mind that offering a class like this is already legal, but Daniels wants to force every district to offer it. (Just over a week ago, it passed through the State House’s PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee.)
Other than mentioning the “Freedom From Religion” as if that’s the full name of the group, the segment does a fine job in the first few minutes going through the pros and cons of the legislation. We know exactly why conservative Christians want this kind of bill passed: It’s a way to get the Bible into public schools under the guise of a secular education. But as one commentator notes, Christians ought to think twice before they support these classes since “the scholarly consensus” frequently diverges from white evangelical groupthink. (Imagine a teacher saying Genesis is just a collection of stories about the creation of the world… while many conservative Christians would argue it’s literally true.)
Then we get the to interview with Daniels.
She says she’s confident her bill will pass because she has the votes (which is to say, Republicans will support her legislation). She adds that there’s little opposition to it and that “it’s only controversial to special interest groups.” As if only a secretive cabal of people could ever defend the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause…
Meanwhile, the plastic lobby ought to write her a campaign check due to the straw men she creates when discussing those critics:
… we’re living in a time where, though we’re supposed to be in a place where people have freedom of speech and freedom of choice, it will literally show how much opposition faith gets and Christianity — because this is not a Christian bill, but people hate Christianity so much that they don’t even want people to study the Bible historically or culturally… [this bill] reveals that there’s a lot of persecution going on in America against people of faith.
All of that is a lie. The main reason people oppose this bill has nothing to do with anti-Christian prejudice. There are plenty of opportunities to discuss the historical and cultural impact of the Bible in, say, a Comparative Religions class. But Daniels, through this bill, singles out Christianity in a way that suggests there’s something true about it in a way she would never do with other religions — even ones like Islam that have also shaped the course of world history.
It’s also not that atheists are afraid of kids reading the Bible. As the saying goes, “the road to atheism is littered with bibles that have been read cover to cover.”
Daniels goes on to claim other states are passing similar bills — but they’re not. Other states allow elective classes teaching the Bible as literature. Daniels wants to force every district to dedicate resources to her Sunday School fantasy.
This bill is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Plus, there are plenty of good reasons for Republicans to oppose it. (Do they really want an atheist educating kids about the Bible? Because that could happen here.) Whether they’ll have the good sense to vote against this bill, though, has yet to be seen.
(Thanks to David for the link)