As the U.S. Senate continues to deliberate whether or not to confirm Donald Trump’s ridiculously unqualified candidate for Secretary of Education, the billionaire and major GOP contributor, Betsy DeVos, who has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into Republican campaigns in a determined effort to eliminate public education altogether and divert public money into private (Christian) charter schools, two Kentucky GOP lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make the Christian Bible, especially the sections pertaining to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the trials of Job, and the Ten Commandments, part of the public high school curriculum.
The bill’s sponsors, Republican Reps. DJ Johnson and Wesley Morgan, claim that the bill would provide “prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture.”
“Whether you believe that it’s the word of God or you think it’s complete fiction, you can’t deny the impact it’s had on our culture.”
The lawmakers insist that the bill is not meant to promote Christianity and that schools should remain neutral on the topic of religion. The bill, however, does not ask educators to talk about other religions or review other religious texts, such as the Quran, the Tanakh, or the Tao Te Ching, nor does it request that they instill crucially important logic and critical thinking skills to students by teaching skepticism, and challenging them to question the fundamental tenets of religion, like the existence of a supreme deity such as the Christian God.
Jim Potash, president of the Kentucky Secular Society, is not buying the neutrality claim.
“I don’t think it really would be just teaching about religion,” Potash said. “I think I’d have to worry about them actually preaching religion.”
This seems like an underhanded attempt to push Christianity into public schools by thinly disguising it under the label of “culture” instead of “religion,” treating the Bible (yet no other religious texts) as if it has some usefulness outside of religion.
Even religious scholars agree the bill is problematic.
“We want to take (the texts) seriously as sources from that time period without treating them uncritically as straightforward history,” said Mark Chancey, a professor at Southern Methodist University. “That’s a delicate dance because the minute teachers begin treating the Bible as straightforward, completely unproblematic history, they’ve slipped into making theological claims.”
This bill, which is not the first of its kind in the state, is being proposed only weeks after Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin declared 2017 as the “Year of the Bible.”
*Based on source originally published at Patheos on January 26, 2017, by Dan Arel.