Matt Bevin, the Republican governor
Last Friday, a Kentucky bill signed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin allowing public schools to offer elective classes teaching the Bible went into effect.
“The idea that we would not want [a Biblical literacy course] to be an option for people in school, that would be crazy,” said Gov. Bevin at the signing ceremony on June 27. “I don’t know why every state would not embrace this, why we as a nation would not embrace this.”
House Bill 128, signed by the governor in the state’s Capitol Rotunda, allows “local school boards the option of developing a Bible literacy class as part of their social studies curriculum,” according to Louisville-based WRDB.
The bill, which had 12 Republican sponsors, passed the Kentucky State House in February with an 80-14 vote in its favor.
Those in support of the bill’s passage recognize the importance of Biblical literacy in the United States due to the book’s influence in building and defending Western culture.
“It really did set the foundation that our Founding Fathers used to develop documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights,” Kentucky Rep. D.J. Johnson told WRDB. “All of those came from principles from the Bible.”
The new law requires Kentucky’s board of education to regulate and establish an elective Bible course, covering the Old and New Testaments as well as “Biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture.”
However, the ACLU of Kentucky expressed concerns about the state’s new law.
“A Bible literacy bill that, on its face, may not appear to be unconstitutional, could in fact become unconstitutional in its implementation,” said the group’s advocacy director, Kate Miller. “We want to make sure that teachers can teach and make sure that they don’t go in to preach.”
Gov. Bevin and Rep. Johnson both dismissed such concerns.
“You could be an atheist, and you would appreciate there’s a lot of wisdom in the Bible,” stated the governor.
“As long as we’re careful with the curriculum itself, there won’t be any constitutional issues,” said Rep. Johnson.