The Idaho House Education Committee passed a bill on March 17 to allow the Bible in public schools. The Bible bill went through despite prevalent concerns about triggering lawsuits and the bill’s legality.
Senate Bill 1342 specifically permits the Bible, and other religious doctrines and texts, in public schools, exclusively “for reference purposes,” reports Idaho Ed News.
The bill drew strong criticism from politicians throughout the state.
Assistant Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane wrote “[the law] may raise a religious preference issue … and in any event, is specifically prohibited by Article 9, Section Six of the Idaho Constitution.”
Democratic state Rep. Ilana Rubel of Boise held that even if the bill was passed, it would not last long.
“This will be legally challenged and it will be thrown out and we will pay the legal fees of the people to challenge it,” wrote Rubel.
Supporters of the bill shook off concerns of legal challenges.
“We will have lawsuits, that is kind of the nature of any government institution. It may be a lawsuit and it may cost us a few bucks and I think we will likely prevail,” said Republican state Rep. Ryan Kerby of New Plymouth.
Christ Troupis, an attorney who helped write the bill, sought to dispel fears the law is unconstitutional.
“Nobody should be concerned that what we’ve asked for is to allow religious training in school,” said Troupis, reports KTVB.
“If you get into the religious [tenet] or religious doctrine, you violate the Idaho Constitution and the United States Constitution.”
The bill reportedly comes in response to an ongoing debate over the extent to which public school teachers can use the Bible in class.
Kerby claims that there is “a lot of confusion out there” among teachers over whether the Bible can be used.
Education groups say that the role of the Bible in schools is a non-issue.
“We have not heard any district or charter school ask questions about whether, or how, they could use the Bible in schools,” said Karen Echeverria, director of Idaho School Board Association.
If the bill passes the House floor, it will be sent to the governor’s office for final approval.