At the Capitol on Tuesday, Gov. Matt Bevin gave his public “Amen” to a bill allowing Bible courses in public schools.
Normally, a bill signing does not open with prayer, but in this case, it may have been appropriate. At a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, Bevin signed House Bill 128, which allows public schools to teach courses on the Bible.
The bill’s sponsor says students need to understand the role the Bible played in American history.
“It really did set the foundation that our founding fathers used to develop documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights,” said Rep. D.J. Johnson (R-Owensboro). “All of those came from principles from the Bible.”
The bill, which easily passed the House and Senate, gives local school boards the option of developing a Bible literacy class as part of their social studies curriculum. The course would be elective, not required.
“The idea that we would not want this to be an option for people in school, that would be crazy. I don’t know why every state would not embrace this, why we as a nation would not embrace this,” Bevin told the crowd.
The ACLU of Kentucky said it’s concerned about how the law might be used in schools.
“A Bible literacy bill that, on its face, may not appear to be unconstitutional, could in fact become unconstitutional in its implementation,” said Advocacy Director Kate Miller.
Miller told WDRB News the ACLU will monitor the law closely.
“We want to make sure that teachers can teach and make sure that they don’t go in to preach,” Miller said.
Supporters point out that the state Department of Education will help schools develop the course.
“As long as we’re careful with the curriculum itself, there won’t be any constitutional issues,” Johnson said. “And we’ll do that.”