At the request of Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, the Senate Education Committee this afternoon introduced legislation to “expressly permit” the use of the Bible in public schools as a reference. That’s already allowed, Nuxoll acknowledged, but she wanted to press the point. Her bill says:
“The Bible is expressly permitted to be used in Idaho public schools for reference purposes to further the study of literature, comparative religion, English and foreign languages, United States and world history, comparative government, law, philosophy, ethics, astronomy, biology, world geography, archaeology, music, sociology, and other topics of study where an understanding of the Bible may be useful or relevant. No student will be required to use any religious texts for reference purposes if the student or parents of the student object.”
The committee voted to introduce the bill, but not without resistance, reports Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News. Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, questioned the need for the law, since teachers can already use the Bible anyway. “Once we start spelling out religious texts,” she said, “we open up the door to spelling out many, many more.”
“That, I guess, could be a possibility,” Nuxoll said. But she drew a distinction between the Bible and other religious texts, saying the Bible is “embedded” in American culture. You can read Richert’s full report here.