Proposed Policy to Put Religion Back in Iowa Schools

Public school officials in Spencer, Iowa, have proposed a policy that would offer students elective classes on the Bible and on arguments against the theory of evolution.

Concerned that public education has often "gone too far" in excluding religious influences, the officials are hoping to restore balance to the issues and allow for the inclusion of religious expression in their public school.

"This nation was founded on the idea of religious liberty," the proposal states. "A well rounded education must include an understanding of the ideas which molded the nation, many of which were religious."

If adopted, the school district could offer "The Bible in History and Literature" and "Critic of Darwinism, a scientific approach" electives. But religion in the curriculum is not the only thing the policy is pushing for.

The proposal also states that graduation speeches will not be regulated on religious content and graduating classes will be permitted to choose whether to have prayer at their ceremony or not.

Through the policy, students would also be allowed to distribute religious materials and the school may not forbid student expression solely because of religious content.

For school employees, the policy states that teachers may choose to answer questions about personal faith issues and they must maintain an officially neutral position on religious issues.

Spencer Superintendent Greg Ebeling said any future policies would not serve as a means to force religion on students but rather to help draw lines on what teachers can talk about what they can't, according to KCAU TV.

More often, teachers choose never to address such subjects as faith and religion because of fear of offense or lawsuits, Ebeling noted.

The purposes of the policy, as outlined in the proposal, are to: stop discrimination against private religious expression, educate about and not indoctrinating religious faith, promote dialogue between schools and community concerning faith, create a climate of academic freedom concerning faith issues, and allow for student and employee religious expression within the law.

The proposal adds that in adopting the policy, the school will "neither promote, [nor] disparage religious faith."

According to KCAU TV, the school board will hold an open discussion with the public about the proposed policy.