On Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, the Arkansas House voted 79-3 to approve a bill that would allow public schools to add Bible study to their curriculum. House Bill 1017 allows public schools to teach the Bible from a non-religious standpoint.
The bill was introduced to give public schools the opportunity to teach Bible text as a form of literature, not religious doctrine. Doing so does not violate the separation of church and state clause of the U.S. Constitution. The bill’s intent reads as follows:
“The State Board of Education shall allow for an elective academic study of the Bible course or courses that consist of a nonsectarian, nonreligious academic study of the Bible and its influence on literature, art, music, culture, and politics to be offered to students in public school districts, if the academic study of the Bible course meets the standards listed in this section.”
Republican Representative Denny Altes of Ft. Smith sponsored the bill. Although the bill passed the House with an overwhelming majority, it still has to pass the state Senate. Gov. Beebe must sign the bill, if it passes the Senate, before it becomes law.