Lawmakers in Idaho said they'll pass a bill to affirm that the Bible can be used as a reference book in state schools, but only with changes to the text.
The bill was originally introduced by state Republican Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, who said she was prompted to draft the proposal because teachers mistakenly believe they can't use the Bible at all in classrooms, Idaho EdNews reported.
The one-paragraph bill affirmed the legality of using the Bible as a school teaching aid, and said kids or parents could opt out of any Bible-related assignment or lesson if they objected to its use. It specified that the Bible could be used as a reference book to help teach a long list of subjects, including literature, archaeology, music, sociology, and sciences like astronomy, biology and geology.
It's the latter that caught the attention of some state senators, who said they'd only support the bill with a rewrite. Among them was Republican Sen. Todd Lakey, who said science subjects should be removed from the list so the bill could not be misinterpreted to promote creationism, EdNews said.
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Other lawmakers said the bill's language should be changed to include all religious texts, not just the Bible.
Although state law already allows teachers to use the Bible in certain contexts, supporters of Nuxoll's bill said some teachers would rather avoid using the book at all to avoid controversy.
“There is this vague, even fear of it being used in the classroom,” Steve Crane, a local minister, told EdNews.
Legislators spent about two hours debating the specifics of the bill's language, and three attorneys weighed in, guiding the state senators on specifics, the Spokesman-Review reported.
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Not all of Nuxoll's Republican colleagues thought the proposal was a good idea.
Passing the law “would invite constitutional challenge," said Republican Sen. Bart Davis, who added that he believes the law would be ruled unconstitutional.
Although a majority agreed to amend the bill before voting for it, Nuxoll's legislation still has to pass the state's lower house before Republican Gov. Butch Otter decides whether or not to sign it into law.