So much for separation of church and state. RT reported in 2015 that Idaho Republican Marge Arnzen submitted a proposed resolution that would allow Idaho schools to use the Bible as a reference for teaching subjects like art, geology, biology, foreign languages, among others. Just a few days ago, Idaho Education News informed everyone that the Idaho Senate gave preliminary approval to Arnzen’s bill, moving it one step closer to becoming a state law.
Arnzen proposed that the Bible be:
‘Expressly permitted to be used in Idaho public schools for reference purposes to further the study of literature, comparative religion, English and foreign languages, U.S. and world history, comparative government, law, philosophy, ethics, astronomy, biology, geology, world geography, archaeology, music, sociology, and other topics of study where an understanding of the Bible may be useful or relevant.’
The Bible could, of course, be a useful or relevant text in comparative religion classes, along with literature, English, and history classes. We’re a bit confused, though, about how the Bible would be relevant to astronomy, biology, or geology, as are other critics of the bill, including Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta.
Idaho has a Republican majority, with a Republican governor and a 4-1 majority in both chambers of the Idaho legislature; this imbalance is definitely a benefit to Arnzen’s proposal turned bill. When Arnzen’s was still in its proposal state, Mehta wrote, “So bad ideas can become law without much opposition. I suspect it won’t be too long before a state legislator sponsors this disastrous bill.” Mehta was, unfortunately for students in Idaho, correct.
The bill has not been unanimously accepted, but Senator Sheryl Nuxoll has taken it upon herself to push the bill forward, saying that “A lot of teachers are scared to use the Bible.” One of the few Democratic Idaho Senators, Janie Ward-Engelking of Boise, was one who resisted the bill, questioning whether there was a need for a law allowing the use of the Bible, since teachers can use it already.
There is not necessarily a problem with the Bible being used as a reference in certain courses, like the ones discussed above where texts and theories are more open to interpretation. However, when it is used as a reference for other classes, science classes in particular, we definitely have to worry that students are going to get a very skewed lesson about subjects that should be taught as objectively as possible.
Don’t abandon hope just yet, though. There is still a possibility that the bill will not pass, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for the good of Idaho’s students!
Watch coverage of this bill below, complete with specific quotes from Arnzen’s proposal highlighted, courtesy of The Young Turks via YouTube.