RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A controversial proposal is brewing at the General Assembly as a southwest Virginia senator is working towards a bill that would require school districts to offer Bible courses an elective.
Sen. Charles Carrico, R-40th, says other states are doing it, so why not Virginia?
“I think it’s something that we need,” Carrico said.
He’s pitching Senate Bill 1502, which is working its way through committees now in the General Assembly.
“The Bible is full of stories and has a lot of issues that I think the country is lacking today,” he said.
It would require Virginia school districts to offer courses on the Old Testament, New Testament or both as an elective for high schools students to choose from.
President Donald Trump gave his stamp of approval on Twitter.
“Government is supposed to be content-neutral when it comes to religious educational materials,” said Claire Gastanaga of the ACLU. “Anything that elevates a certain set of teachings or a certain religion over every other religions is by definition not neutral."
It’s a topic giving pause to some, but gaining praise from others.
“I mean, we still have it on our money ‘In God we trust,’ but at the same time it’s not a part of our country to be incorporated into every aspect of society. I think school would be good,” said Pastor Larry Miles.
Although Miles supports the idea, he wants to make sure it would be done right.
“The person must be very qualified to do so, not just anybody. I don’t think you should give Bible class to an English teacher,” Miles said.
Lawmakers will now hash out the details as they decide whether the idea should become law.
“What we’ve seen in other states, where similar laws have been approved, is that even the most well-meaning efforts at a purely scholarly course have in practice resulted in proselytizing students into shooting a particular set of beliefs, which is unconstitutional. This can take the form of lesson plans, devotionals, materials and even class outings,” Bill Farrar of the ACLU added.
“You’re going to teach old and new testament from an educational perspective. Leave the spirituality stuff to the Lord’s church and that’s where church and state can be separated,” Miles added.
As it stand snow, schools have the option to teach Bible courses. This proposed law would require it. Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover say they are not offering Bible classes.
Richmond and Petersburg schools also say they do not currently offer the option.