North Carolina's public high schools may soon be able to start offering Bible classes as electives in their curriculum, after the proposal of a new bill at the state General Assembly.
"This is an elective," said Bingham (R-Davidson), the primary sponsor of the bill. "I don't think it's out of order for a student to ask a school system to take an elective in the Bible."
The Associates Press reported that the bill would facilitate classes based on the Old Testament, the New Testament or a combination of both as electives in N.C. Secular groups have said, however, that such classes could possibly endanger the First Amendment, which guarantees that one religion will not be imposed or promoted in the public sphere over another.
"Classes that teach the Bible have to be conducted in a way that does not promote or disparage religion, or alienate students with different beliefs," said Sarah Preston, policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union-North Carolina.
"But because religious belief is such a personal issue, we believe it's a topic best left to the student's parents, and not government bureaucrats or school officials," Preston added.
Bingham insisted that the classes will not infringe on the separation of church and state, and said that he will continue defending the bill as it moves through the legislative process. Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina are six other states that already have similar laws allowing for Bible electives.
"There's going to be a lot of discussion on this, and that's exactly what I want to see happen," Bingham said.
In a follow-up interview with Eyewitness News, the lawmaker said that the bill is defended by the freedoms America stands on.
"And I believe and enjoy reading the Bible, and I certainly don't see a problem with it. Especially, it's an academic course, and it gives people the opportunity to learn," Bingham added.
An online poll on website WSPA.com, which also reported on the news, states that 83 percent of respondents so far would not see a problem with the elective being offered in public schools.