The House Education Committee has voted to send SB 1342, Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll’s Bible-in-schools bill, to the full House with a recommendation that it “do pass.” The panel’s three minority Democrats plus Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, voted against the motion, and supported an unsuccessful motion to instead send the bill to the House’s amending order.
Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said the bill could easily be amended to remove the word “Bible,” and then it would stand up in court and expressly authorize the use of religious texts in schools for reference. As written, Rubel, an attorney, said, “It was pretty clear that that was going to get struck down. … It seemed very clear the purpose here was to favor the Judeo-Christian Bible over other religions and other religious texts, which is very squarely prohibited by the First amendment.”
The bill says: “USE OF THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The use of religious texts, including the Bible, is expressly permitted to be used in Idaho public schools for reference purposes.” It adds, “This section shall not be construed to permit religious or doctrinal instruction.”
Rubel said the amendment she suggested would have accomplished the bill sponsors’ stated intention – to assure teachers and others in Idaho that religious texts including the Bible could be used for reference in public school classes. “Now it’s going to be tied up in court and ultimately struck down,” she said.