House Bible literacy bill for public schools passed by Senate education committee

03/09/2017 01:52 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill aimed at creating elective Bible literacy courses in public schools was unanimously passed by the Senate Committee on Education on Thursday.

House Bill 128, sponsored by Rep. DJ Johnson, R-Owensboro, would require the state Board of Education to establish policies for local school boards that choose to offer elective social studies courses on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible, the New Testament, or a combination of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.

Johnson told committee members that the Bible is “an ancient document that, even today shapes the world around us.”

“It’s influenced not only American culture but cultures and histories throughout the world,” Johnson said. “A Bible course that informs students about how this literary work affects peoples and cultures will better equip our students to better understand the world around them.”

Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, supported the bill, but questioned former Sen. Jack Westwood, who spoke in favor of HB 128 about having a class to teach about all religions.

“To me, it makes more sense that we move toward a religion course, I think that’s better from an educational tool, as opposed to a course in the Bible,” Thomas said. “I think people want to understand religion in a broader context.”

“There have been a lot of people suggest that maybe our schools ought to be teaching comparative religion classes and I think that some are doing that,” Westwood said. “As far as the Christian viewpoint, I think it’s important to keep in mind much of our culture is based around Christianity or Judaism. It is not so much the other religions.”

Sen. Steve West, R-Paris, believes that there is tremendous value for students to have a better idea of how the United States was founded in learning the Bible.

“Our founding fathers, when they founded this country, and they put together our founding documents, the primary source used to come up with our Constitution was the Holy Bible,” West said. “I feel that this bill has a secular purpose, and it will help educate our kids on the background of how they came up with our founding documents.”

HB 128 moves on to the full house for consideration.


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