Last year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a “Bible Literacy” bill. The ACLU of Kentucky expressed concern about the bill, but didn’t oppose it outright. Now it is in full panic mode, warning the Kentucky Department of Education that there are schools already out there who are teaching religion.
The Family Foundation was instrumental in the passage of this legislation, having worked for several years in the State Senate to have a bill introduced by Sen. Robin Webb (D-Grayson), a bill the language of which was adopted by the Republican House and later passed into law.
During one of the committee hearings, opponents of the bill argued that, in order to be objective, the bill would have to include books from other religions. I was at the table, helping to introduce the bill to the Senate. I responded that the bill was not a religious bill, the bill was a cultural literacy bill.
The facts and stories of the Bible, whether you agree with them or not, are strewn throughout English, World Literature and History and that, in fact, you cannot understand much of this literature and history if you do not know the constant Biblical references and allusions contained in them.
One senator asked why we did not include knowledge of the Koran in the bill. I answered because the Koran was not a part of our country’s history and literature. A knowledge of the Koran would do precisely nothing in helping students to understand other books they were reading in school, which is what the bill was all about.
The same bill was later introduced by Rep. D.J. Johnson (R-Owensboro) in the House, and it passed and was signed by Gov. Matt Bevin.
Now the ACLU—always on the lookout for rogue manger scenes and ever making sure that the Ten Commandments (which commonly grace the statuary of state and federal courthouses and government buildings) are kept away from public viewing—is ringing alarm bells about the law.
They have trolled the state’s schools and claim to have discovered numerous violations of the Constitution. You know, that part of the Constitution which says that the government should be hostile to religion. It’s in the section of the Constitution that requires there to be same-sex marriage and abortion on the demand— which is to say that it’s really not in there at all.
Here’s what their website says: “The investigation uncovered public school teachers using the Bible to impart religious life lessons (Barren, McCracken, and Letcher Counties), use of online Sunday School lessons and worksheets for course source material and assignments (Letcher and Wayne Counties), and rote memorization of Biblical text (McCracken County) – practices which fall far short of academic and objective study of the Bible and its historical context or literary value.”
For one thing, don’t we commonly do many of these things in other courses? Don’t history lessons often involve life lessons? Don’t we often have students memorize literary texts? At least I hope we still do these things. And we don’t say that these make the study of history or literature any less academic and objective when we do it.
But what is actually a little humorous is that the ACLU is demanding that the Department of Education come up with guidelines on how the Bible should be taught as literature in order to prevent these things.
Did they not read the Bible Literacy bill? Did they not notice that the Bible Literacy bill does precisely that? It requires the KDE to come up with guidelines on how to teach these courses. That’s it’s whole purpose.
In other words, the ACLU is actually in favor of the Bible Literacy law, they just don’t know it. We won’t tell them if you won’t..