Florida bill would require school districts to offer Bible electives

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Written by Don Byrd

A member of Florida House has proposed legislation that would require school districts to offer religion-based electives. Introducing Representative Kimberly Daniels House Bill 195which “require[es] each school district to offer specific courses relating to religion, the Hebrew Scriptures and the Bible. The bill includes a provision that calls on classes to maintain religious neutrality, but in a Bible class, that may be easier said than done.

Orlando Sentinel columnist Shannon Green quotes the reluctance of a local Baptist pastor about this idea:

“Public school is not the safest place to teach religious thought,” said Danny de Armas, who is senior associate pastor at First Baptist Orlando.

“At the same time, I think general education about different religions and comparative religion lessons can be healthy and important. I don’t want to assign a motive to the rep and what she’s doing, but I just think it’s murky water to get into.

This is without detracting from the legitimate and important educational value of including the study on various religions in the high school curriculum. Even the study of specific religious texts can be an appropriate segment of a literature course, for example. But offering a course that focuses exclusively on a particular religious text would seem fraught with constitutional pitfalls in practice.

To find out more, it is worth looking at the Conversation on Religious Freedom Day organized by the Sentinel to discuss the issue.


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