North Dakota Lawmakers Seek to Mandate Bible Studies for State’s Public Schools
New legislation in North Dakota has been introduced by a group of Republican lawmakers that would require the state public schools to teach a unit about the Bible, according to ThinkProgress.
The class could focus on the Old Testament, the New Testament, or both, and would count as a social studies class.
The legislation does not give guidelines about how the courses would be carried out, which could result in something akin to a Sunday school class, or religious indoctrination in disguise.
In 2017, Kentucky passed a similar law. Students could take an elective social studies Bible class that would maintain “religious neutrality.” Yet, the ACLU discovered Kentucky’s schools to be deviating from the “neutral” nature of their studies. Students were encouraged to convert other students and to incorporate the Bible into their own morality.
The ACLU wrote, “While it is not unconstitutional per se to teach schoolchildren about religion and religious texts, when a course focuses on one religious text, such as the Bible, it is exceedingly difficult to implement the class within constitutional strictures. Any course addressing the Bible in public schools must be secular, objective, nondevotional, and must not promote any specific religious view.”
The ACLU is continuing to monitor the situation in Kentucky.
In the meantime, the legislation in North Dakota will have a difficult time passing without a clear outline for how the classes will be taught.