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President Trump tweets support for Bible classes in public schools

A Florida representative this month introduced a bill that would require school districts to offer elective courses in religion and the Bible.
Credit: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, holds up his bible which was given to him by his mother, as he speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Washington.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Conservative legislators in several states – including Florida – are pushing for bills that would allow public schools to offer classes on the Bible.

President Donald Trump tweeted his support for the endeavors Monday morning after "Fox and Friends" ran a segment on Bible literacy, CBS reported. Trump called the introduction of Bible literacy classes "great."

At least six Republican-controlled state legislatures are pushing for legislation that would have public schools offering elective classes on the Old and New Testaments. 

In Florida, state Rep. Kimberly Daniels filed House Bill 195: Study of the Bible and Religion on Jan. 9. A week later, the bill was referred to subcommittees.

The bill would require "each school district to offer specified courses relating to religion, Hebrew scriptures, and the Bible to certain students as elective courses." The classes would be offered to high school students.

While the bill requires school districts to offer "an objective study of religion" and "an objective study of the Bible," it also requires classes to maintain religious neutrality and accommodate "diverse religious views, traditions, and perspectives of all students in the school."

Florida isn't the only state with legislators pursuing Bible literacy classes. Legislative proposals in Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia have stirred some controversy, CBS said.

Critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say public school classes on the Bible would "jeopardize the separation of church and state," which is laid out in the First Amendment.

In 2017, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed legislation that allows public school students to take classes on the Bible and Hebrew scriptures. In January 2018, the ACLU of Kentucky said an Open Records Act investigation found many of the course violated constitutional requirements that say religious teachings in classrooms but me "secular, objective and not promote any specific religious view," CBS reported.

In a statement last August, ACLU-KY said, "Religious education is best left to parents and churches, not school or government."

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