President Donald Trump gave a shoutout on Twitter to states that have begun offering Bible literacy classes in their public schools, tweeting, “Starting to make a turn back? Great!”
So-called Bible literacy bills are pending in several states, and Trump appeared to be responding to a Fox News report and interview with North Dakota State Representative Aaron McWilliams discussing a bill in his state. Similar efforts have been introduced in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia and West Virginia, and Kentucky enacted one such proposal last year, USA Today reported last week.
The primary concern arising around such bills has been the way such curriculum will be implemented: Done correctly, schools will not overstep the separation of church and state; done incorrectly, courses could be more about proselytizing than teaching about a religion.
In some states, the classes would be elective, but in others, they would be required.
In response to North Dakota’s bill, 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.”
Trump has catered to the evangelical Christian community — which is the driving force behind such bills — from the time he announced his run for office.