A new law will allow Arizona public schools to offer elective classes that would discuss the Bible’s influence on Western civilization.
Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed the measure on April 18. It allows biblical study courses to be offered for students in grades nine through twelve, and the law seeks to protect teachers of such classes from any related legal trouble.
“A teacher who instructs a course offered under this section and its appropriate historical context and in good faith shall be immune from civil liability and disciplinary action,” the law says.
Before the bill was signed, Americans United sent a letter to Brewer asking that she veto it. AU State Legislative Analyst Amanda Rolat said that there “can be a proper role” for the Bible in school curriculum because it “has considerable significance in Western literature and art.”
Rolat added, however, that the Arizona measure doesn’t make it clear that these Bible courses have to be taught objectively and without proselytizing and that the teachers of these courses must be appropriately trained and qualified.
When Brewer signed the bill, AU Communications Director Joseph L. Conn told reporters the measure is fraught with problems.
“This bill is not about improving academic achievement; it’s about introducing religious indoctrination into the schools and currying favor with conservative religious voters,” Conn told The Christian Post.
He said most school districts will probably skip the Bible classes to avoid controversy and save money.