Bingham’s Bible bill referred to Senate Rules Committee
Sen. Stan Bingham (R-Davidson County) introduced a bill that would allow high schools to teach the Bible from a historical perspective.
Senate Bill 138 states that local boards of education may offer elective courses for credit in high school on the Old Testament, the New Testament or a combination of the two. Bingham said the Bible study elective would be an option for students who want to study the Bible for historical reasons and not a mandatory piece of a high school's curriculum.
"I wouldn't have introduced if it was mandatory," Bingham said. "I had some folks in the district call me and it sounded like a very interesting option. There are a lot of people who are very excited about this bill and me bringing it to the floor for discussion."
Senate Bill 138 states that local boards of education that decide to offer the elective must follow federal and state laws in maintaining religious neutrality and accommodating diverse religious views, traditions and perspectives. The elective also may not endorse, favor or promote any particular religion, nonreligious faith or religious perspective.
Bingham feels the Bible and its impact on the world has a lot to offer students.
"It's always fun to take courses you're interested in and a lot of youths are interested in religion and it's history," said Bingham. "There are a lot of wonderful things in the Bible to learn. I think that's a real plus, especially with all the problems this country has going on in this day and time."
Thomasville City Schools Superintendent Keith Tobin said he would be in favor of offering such an elective locally, as long as the curriculum focused on teaching the Bible from a historical perspective.
"I personally don't have a problem with it," Tobin said. "It's part of, obviously, our past and I would support that being taught. I just think that as long as you're not doing it from a religious standpoint, but more of a historical standpoint, it's OK to do."
A section of the bill also says that Bible electives may include instruction on "knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratories and public policies."
Bingham said he already has received anticipated opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) regarding the bill, but it's receiving a lot of support among legislators.
"They've already been by to see me," said Bingham. "They're going to have some heartburn on this and I expect a lot of push back from them. If we've got freedom of speech but we can't talk about the Bible, great day."
Should the proposed bill become law, Tobin said one of the challenges would be finding certified instructors to teach the class.
"Obviously, you have to have certified folks who are able to do that," Tobin said. "You have to have all your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed when you do that, but personally I'm OK with it."
Senate Bill 138 has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.