Bible Classes in Oklahoma Public Schools Would Be Protected From Lawsuits Under Proposed Legislation

First grader Adam Kotzian does his writing work on the floor of his classroom at Eagleview Elementary school in Thornton, Colorado, March 31, 2010. | (Photo: Reuters/Rick Wilking)

A new bill being proposed by an Oklahoma senator will shield public schools in the state from being hit with lawsuits for teaching non-sectarian classes on the Bible.

More specifically, this bill will sustain a Bible course instituted in public schools by the Christian family that owns the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores and is being proposed by Senator Kyle Loveless.

It's labeled Senate Bill 48, the "religious elective" and intends to render schools and school boards impervious to any lawsuits regarding the teaching of religion in school.

It will allow "no liability as a result of providing an elective course in the study of religion or the Bible."

Loveless explained to the Examiner-Enterprise earlier this week that he was approached by his constituents who asked him to write this bill to indemnify the Mustang School District where this curriculum was supposed to be taught.

"The district projected that there were going to be between 20-30 students interested in the elective. In actuality, 180 students signed up," he said. "They were extremely disappointed in having the class canceled."

Loveless supports the separation of church and state, but feels that there is no harm in teaching a course at public schools that explore the historical aspects of the Bible.

"I don't see anything wrong [with a provision] that gives local school districts the ability to study the historical aspects of the Bible. That's my reasoning for the bill. It is not a forced class and this would not be a 'Sunday School' type course. We are not endorsing one religion over the other," he continued.

He also briefly discussed how the bill would affect a proposed class on the Quran in the school.

"Oklahoma is a predominantly Christian state. There has been no movement to teach the Quran as an elective. I would be open to debate on the issue," he said.

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