National group concerned about Bible course bill in Kentucky

Published: Mar. 14, 2016 at 10:31 PM EDT
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A national organization says it is worried about a bill that would allow classes about the bible to be taught in Kentucky public schools.

The bill received unanimous approval from the Senate Education Committee last week.

Supports say the Bible would be taught as literature and the class would not be a requirement for students.

The Anti-Defamation League released the following statement on Monday night:

"We are deeply concerned about how these Bible courses will be implemented by Kentucky public schools. Decades ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public schools can teach about religion in an objective and neutral manner, but cannot teach religious doctrine. Implementing this standard is much easier said than done. Indeed, the vast majority of public school Bible courses challenged in the courts have been found to be unconstitutional.

Although the current version of the bill incorporates constitutional standards, additional safeguards are necessary. The legislation does not oblige course instructors to receive training on how to teach about the Bible in a constitutional manner and fails to provide the resources needed for such training.

Without this training, it would be all too easy for these Bible courses to lead – intentionally or inadvertently – to unconstitutional proselytizing or endorsement of religion, which would inevitably lead to students feeling excluded and schools being subject to costly lawsuits. The legislation should include such a training requirement and the resources to implement it.

We urge the House of Representatives to proceed very cautiously and not to move the bill forward without ensuring that it contains important constitutional safeguards."