Bill Would Require Bible Study Elective in North Dakota Schools


Rosary beads and bible

Here’s a candidate for the dumbest piece of legislation in the 2019 legislative session.

SB2136, sponsored by state Senator Oley Larson (R-Minot), would amend North Dakota’s law pertaining to required subjects for study in public schools to add in a unit on the Christian bible.

The pertinent language, added to a list of required units in the law:

The full legislation is below. Note that this wouldn’t require that students take the course. Only that it be available as an elective.

It’s hard for me to fathom how a serious lawmaker could introduce something like this in the United States of America in 2019.

I mean that as no slight to Christians. I understand their bible is important to them, but requiring in a public school the availability of a course to study the Christian bible is unconstitutional.

That’s what this legislation does. It doesn’t talk about study of religion in general. It mandates a unit studying a specific religion.

If nothing else, this is an equal protection issue. I’ve never bought into the “separation of church and state” doctrine – Americans are all flavors of religion and there’s nothing wrong with recognizing that in public spaces like schools – but you can’t favor one religion over another.

This legislation clearly does.

Curriculum giving students an overview of the various religions and their histories is valid. Curriculum which studies one particular type of religion over others is not only morally wrong in a public school, it’s illegal.

I suspect this bill will die a quick death.

(Full disclosure, I’m an atheist, but I have no problem with religious expression. Only the government favoring one type of religion over another.)

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