North Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill that if passed, would allow public high schools to offer Bible study.
On Tuesday, Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, introduced a bill which would allow local school boards to offer electives on the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament), the New Testament or both.
“I thought it would be an infringement on the First Amendment or separation of church and state or something,” Bingham told the Winston-Salem Journal. “Come to find out, it doesn’t. I liked the idea of bringing this up so people could become educated on that fact.”
Students would receive academic credit for the electives, but would not be required to take them. The courses would have to maintain “religious neutrality” focusing not on faith, but on its history and characters.
“I think some people would sign up to take the class just to learn more about their own religion,” said Reynolds senior Summer Saunders. “You can say I actually learned the history from someone who is not a pastor. You could learn just straight facts instead of someone’s opinion thrown in.”
Several school districts already teach the Bible in literature-based classes and history classes.
“I don’t see a problem with any kind of religion being taught,” said Reynolds High School parent Erica Harrison. “I think it will get the student focused on something else totally different, a lot of positive things.”
A spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said, though it is ok to teach the Bible on an academic level, the group feels it is a topic best left to students’ parents and not school teachers.
“I’m a big fan of comparative religion where students look at Islam, they look at Hindu, Buddhist, Christianity Judaism — look at all the roots,” said Jonathan Milner, a parent who questions why other religious text are not included in the bill. “I’m skeptical of that.”