According to Springfield News-Leader, Missouri state Representative Curtis Trent is pushing for a resolution which would encourage public high schools to offer classes on the Old and New Testaments. The resolution would also incorporate a three week bible session into world literature courses.
Three similar pieces of legislation have been introduced this session, and there are many more in other states. Critics of the bills say that they could violate the separation between church and state.
Trent pointed out that he was not trying to preach, merely trying to enlighten students on how the Bible has shaped culture and history.
“There are so many works of art and literature … and architecture that depict religious events or have religious events as subjects,” he said. “And students should know how Christianity has played a role in our history. It gives you a fuller understanding of why historic actors did what they did and how history has evolved.”
He is also in favor of expanding teaching in school about ancient societies. “I’ve just always been a proponent of understanding history,” he said, “but especially in our own tradition, because that’s who we are.” He explained that he is referring to American history as well as the Christian influence on the country.
Although the resolution says the classes would only be offered if they’re taught without favoring a religion, critics are still skeptical.
Sara Baker, the ACLU of Missouri’s policy and legislative director said those were nearly impossible standards.
“You tend to favor one religion over another,” she said. “The bill only references the Old and New Testaments, and there are other religions with books.”
One atheist, Scott McKellar, also testified against Trent’s resolution. “With rare exceptions, Bible teachers at the high school level will not be scholars or historians,” he said. “They will be former seminarians, graduates of Bible colleges and others whose approach to the Bible is suffused with their own Christian faith. Inevitably, some will eagerly turn their classes into publicly funded Sunday Schools.”