Why ‘Bibles In Schools’ Bills Are Bad For Our Public Schools and Bad Public Policy
It is no secret that I have a beef with two groups of voters in the Republican Party. Some conservative Christian voters and Trump voters make me want to pull my hair out.
Most of the time both groups of voters support bad public policy that would do nothing but drag down the Republican Party and, more importantly, the American people. So I write this knowing that certain subsets of Republican voters will have a heart attack reading what I write. However, it’s something that needs to be said because it’s bad public policy and it goes against “big tent Republican values.”
On Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted his support for teaching Bible classes in schools.
Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2019
Such a bill is currently sitting in the Virginia State Senate introduced by none other than Republican Senator Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County).
Proud to be carrying SB1502 https://t.co/mwWPeBk1mT
— Bill Carrico (@BillCarrico) January 28, 2019
SB 1502 is a bill proposed by Senator Carrico in the Virginia Senate (Senator Amanda Chase is his Chief Co-Patron) that would allow public schools to teach a Bible class as an elective. Here’s the synopsis of the bill from the Virginia LIS system.
“Public schools; electives on the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament and the New Testament. Requires local school boards to offer as an elective in grades nine through 12 with appropriate credits toward graduation a course on the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament of the Bible or the New Testament of the Bible or a combined course on both. The bill requires the Board of Education to develop Standards of Learning and curriculum guidelines for such courses. The bill provides that the purpose of such courses is to introduce students to biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy. The bill prohibits students from being required to use a specific translation of a religious text when taking the courses and provides that such courses shall maintain religious neutrality and shall not endorse, favor, promote, disfavor, or show hostility toward any particular religion or nonreligious perspective.”
This bill is highly problematic for more reasons than can be counted, but let’s begin with the obvious critique of President Trump. My opinion is Trump is pandering to the religious voters to get their minds off the recent government shutdown and the Mueller probe.
Hear me out. A man who at Liberty University talked about “Two Corinthians,” who has had multiple wives, paid a prostitute with his lawyer’s home equity loan, used insults against people on numerous occasions (I could keep going, but I have other points I want to make about this bill), Donald Trump is not the normal definition of a Christian. The man mostly believes in himself and his quest for more power. He uses tweets to distract and manipulate Christian people who may not be aware of his un-Christ like actions.
The first problem (and I say this as a Christian) is that the Bible class does not specifically state what translation of the Bible is going to be used, nor does it specifically state that it will not discriminate against the translation a student wants to use. This seems problematic because different translations of the Bible can mean very different things.
I have a preference for translation (New Living Translation) and preference for types of Christianity (non-denominational). My views on Christianity may be vastly different than that of other Christians.
Case in point: take the difference in views on homosexuality. Senator Carrico would say that homosexuality is a sin of grave consequences; while I would say that it is sinful, yet it is something that people have to repent for just like the other sins that are listed in the Bible. Christians are vastly different. I would have problems with a Bible class being taught in public schools by someone who disagrees with my faith.
Most importantly, bills like SB 1502 are counterintuitive to the American and conservative spirit of religious freedom. Every American has the right to express their own religion as they so choose. Telling kids of a different faith that they cannot have a class based on their own religious text is wrong and is against everything that the American values of freedom of religion and freedom of expression stand against.
I think about two of my dearest friends in the Republican Party who do not share my faith. We may not agree on religion, but we believe in the principles of free-market capitalism and rights of all Americans to pursue their dreams.
I would never want my friends to feel left out in a school setting or in a public policy setting, not only in the Republican Party but also as an American. Public policy like SB 1502 is totally against the fundamental belief in freedom of religion and excludes students from the expression of freedom of religion. It also hinders the advancement of the First Amendment in American public life.
As a proud Republican and more importantly, a proud American, I urge every member of the Virginia Senate to oppose SB 1502.