The bill, which sailed through the House in a 80-14 vote, will not force schools to teach the Bible, but will give schools the option of providing a Bible literacy elective course for students to voluntarily take part in.
“The idea that we would not want this to be an option for people in school, that would be crazy. I don’t know why every state would not embrace this, why we as a nation would not embrace this,” Bevin told reporters on Tuesday.
The bill’s 12 Republican sponsors have said the purpose of the law is to allow students to learn the role the Bible played in the grand scheme of the history of the western culture, WDRB reported. According to the bill’s supporters, the state’s Department of Education will help develop the course.
“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,” said Rep. D.J. Johnson, one of the bill’s sponsors, told WDRB. “All of those came from principles from the Bible.”
“[Students] can tell you who a pop culture figure is, they can tell you all these type things, but they can’t tell you basic principles of why we are where we’re at and the foundation of the United States,” Republican Sen. Jared Carpenter told WREG.
While the bill easily became law, the ACLU of Kentucky said it will be watching its implementation very closely because of the group’s concern that it might be implemented in an unconstitutional manner.
“A Bible literacy bill that, on its face, may not appear to be unconstitutional, could in fact become unconstitutional in its implementation,” Advocacy Director Kate Miller told WDRB.
“We want to make sure that teachers can teach and make sure that they don’t go in to preach,” Miller said.
“As long as we’re careful with the curriculum itself, there won’t be any constitutional issues,” Johnson said. “And we’ll do that.”
Kentucky joins a handful of other states that have passed legislation allowing for an elective Bible literacy course to take place in public schools, including Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.