State Watch

Missouri lawmakers advance proposal for Bible classes in public schools

The Missouri House Special Committee on Student Accountability voted to advance a bill from a Republican state lawmaker pushing for Bible classes in public high schools.

The bill, introduced by state Rep. Ben Baker, would require Missouri education officials to develop guidelines and standards for courses on the Old and New Testaments that could be offered as electives in public schools.

{mosads}“The Bible is simply a part of the fabric of life,” Baker told the committee on Tuesday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Baker, who is also a minister and dean of students at Ozark Bible College, acknowledged that his proposal is controversial.

The committee voted 8-2 to advance the bill to the full Missouri House for debate.

Supporters of the legislation, including Christian activists and some other GOP state lawmakers, emphasized the Bible’s relevance to world history.

“The Koran doesn’t come up in the plays of Shakespeare,” Christian activist Chuck Stetson, founder of the Bible Literacy Project, told the paper.

“I think any Bible study at the high school level is a great idea,” Missouri Rep. Vic Allred (R) said.

Opponents of the bill, and others like it that are making their way through Missouri’s House and Senate, warned that such a policy could give the appearance of promoting Christianity over other religions.

Brian Kaylor, a pastor at a Missouri Baptist Church, has been one of the most vocal opponents, telling the committee this week that the Bible “cannot be reduced” to a high school elective class.

“The Bible is inherently religious and we cannot pretend otherwise,” he said, according to the report. “I do not need the state teaching my son the Bible.”

Republican state Rep. Brenda Shields, who ultimately voted to advance the bill for further debate, expressed skepticism that the push would change anything about how schools teach religion.

“It can already be done without this bill,” she said.

Lawmakers in a number of states have pushed proposals to allow public schools to offer Bible classes. President Trump backed the proposals in a tweet last month, saying it was “Great!”

Tags Donald Trump

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