Rep. Denny Altes introduced a bill last year to teach the Bible in public schools. It passed the state House but died in the senate. Altes has reintroduced the bill for the next session because he feels that the new legislature will be more supportive of his bill than the old one.
As described by Arkansas News, Altes explained teaching the Bible is a good thing:
It’s a good curriculum, it’s a good study,” Altes said. “It doesn’t hurt anybody. We encourage prisoners to read the Bible but school students are not encouraged to.”
House Bill 1017 would direct the Department of Education to craft a curriculum for a “nonsectarian, nonreligious academic study of the Bible and its influence on literature, art, music, culture, and politics.”
Clearly, religion has played a large role in societies. That should not go unnoticed, at least for purely historical purposes. Yet why stop there? The Koran has played a large role. So has Buddhism influenced Asian cultures and Hinduism in India. The importance should not be only about contemporary religions either. The nature of Greek and Roman gods revealed a lot about Greek and Roman society too.
Yet while House Bill 1017 appears to be about the social and historical impact of the Bible, it really isn’t. It’s just another attempt to entangle religion in the schools, in particular, Christianity. If it was about history, there would be more than the Bible taught.
As it stands, HB 1017 specifically directs schools not to include “texts from other religious or cultural traditions” in any course. With that, any pretense of trying to be impartial and fair should be buried.