Senate Bill Would Allow Bible Study in NC Public Schools
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Students in grades nine through 12 may soon be able to take a Bible study course for credit in public high schools - as early as next school year. Senate Bill 138 calls for an elective course on the Old Testament, New Testament or a combo of both, that maintains "religious neutrality" and one that doesn't "endorse, favor or promote any particular religion." Students would learn about Biblical characters, poetry and stories. The goal: better understanding of today's society by reflecting on the past.
It's being sponsored by 17 North Carolina legislators, including Democrat Gene McLaurin. The District 25 State Senator says, "I feel the opportunity for future generations to gain wisdom and knowledge from the Bible is a real positive for North Carolinians." McLaurin says this is an issue above party politics. He says only a few of his constituents have expressed concerns. "There is no intent to show any hostility towards any other religion," he says.
The topic is generating lots of debate. Steven says on Facebook, "Great idea. Don't see how anyone could complain since it's an option." James argues, "If you are going to teach an elective class on religion, how about Islam? Hinduism? Buddhism? Judaism? Sikhism? You can not narrow it to one religion if you are using tax money."
"There are 500 public schools, in 43 states today, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, that are already offering Bible as an elective," says First Baptist Church of Charlotte Associate Pastor Jonathan Rebsamen. He says it's important for all students to study the Bible, no matter their religion. "Just to get an understanding of our American culture and our history and the foundation of where we came from," he says.
The ACLU of North Carolina has already weighed in on the issue, saying religion is a topic best left to student's parents - not school officials. The bill has been referred to a Senate committee for study and recommendations.