Is Arizona's New Law Allowing Bible Classes in Schools a Good Idea?

Governor Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2563, which allows high schools to offer classes on "how the Bible has influenced Western culture," although nothing requires youngsters to take the class.

It also creates and exemption for the Bible from a law that says "all books, publications, papers and audiovisual materials of a sectarian, partisan or denominational character" are prohibited from public schools and their libraries.

Since Christianity isn't the only religion people subscribe to, there are dissenters to this grand idea.

A group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote a letter to the House Education Committee about the bill in January, suggesting a "comparative religions course, which would be less likely to endorse a specific religion or attempt to indoctrinate students."

Before that, the group wrote on its website that some legislators "seem to believe that Bible classes are a way to sneak that old-time religion in through the schoolhouse back door.

"They aren't," an Americans United policy analyst wrote. "And any public school officials who believe otherwise will quickly learn how wrong they are once the inevitable lawsuits have been filed."

According to a House summary on the bill, here's what the classes will include:

  • The contents, characters, poetry and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory and public policy.
  • The contents of, history recorded by and literary style and structure of the Old and New Testament.
  • The influence of the Old and New Testament on laws, history, government, literature, art, music, customs, morals, values and culture.

Does that sound like a good idea?

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