UPDATE: W.Va. proposal for Bible requirement brings mixed reaction
A bill before West Virginia lawmakers would require the Bible in school.
If passed, Senate Bill 252 would make it an elective for students, but not for school districts, even the public ones.
It’s no surprise, it’s getting some strong opinions on both sides at Pullman Square.
"I think it's a good idea," said Joseph Hardwick.
"I think it’s arrogant and silly," said Patrick Stephens.
But according to current wording, the bill would require it in all schools -- public, private and parochial.
The stated purpose is to teach students the history, literary style and its influence on society like law, art and government, focusing on either the Old Testament, the New Testament or the entire Bible.
Those like Hardwick like the proposal.
"I think it would help people grow and open their mind."
"It gives an opportunity for the kids to learn about the Bible," added Cadyn Turley.
But Stephens said the Bible doesn't have a place in school and blurs the line between church and state.
"It's just pushing somebody else's beliefs on somebody else. That's the purpose of it. We don't need that these days,” he said. "If you want to study the Bible, study it at your house and go to church. Doesn't need to be in school."
While some don’t mind the idea, they do mind the idea that, according to the current language of the bill, it would not be a local decision but a requirement for all.
"I don't think it's bad, but I don't know if requiring it is necessarily the right thing to do," said Shelby Hudson. "I don't see it as any different as any other religious studies class."
"I think it should be optional regardless," Turley added.
Senate Bill 252 is currently in the Education Committee where no date has been set for debate.
State Sen. Mike Azinger (R) is the sponsor. He told us the bill is modeled on the wording passed by the Kentucky legislature last year.
As we told you last week, it's a law that has been challenged in court by the ACLU.
West Virginia's bill currently reads that all schools, no matter the grade level, would be required to offer the class, which is different from the Kentucky version where it's up to the individual districts to decide whether to offer the class.
While Kentucky's sponsor Robin Webb told us last year, the bill is not a requirement for schools to teach, nor a student to take, West Virginia's bill current wording would require all schools to teach it.
Azinger told us he would need to look again at the specifics of the wording before he could say exactly what would be required.
A proposed bill in the West Virginia Senate could require all schools to provide an elective course on the Bible.
Senate Bill 252 is sponsored by State Senators Mike Azinger and Sue Cline.
According to the proposed legislation, the course would be taught on either Hebrew scriptures or the Bible.
The bill would allow students to use a translation of their choice.
According to the bill, the elective course would "teach students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture."
The bill requires federal and state laws be followed regarding religious neutrality, while accommodating the diverse religious views of students.
SB 252 has been sent to the education committee.