President Donald Trump on Jan. 28 issued a tweet endorsing the idea of "Bible literacy" courses in public schools.
Trump was apparently motivated to act after watching "Fox & Friends," a morning show on the Fox News Channel that, according to some accounts, he views regularly. The show that morning interviewed Aaron McWilliams, a North Dakota state representative who had introduced a Bible literacy bill.
Trump's tweet read, "Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!"
Bills that would allow or require the study of the Bible in public schools are pending in six states. While often described as Bible literacy bills, the measures are problematic, says Americans United.
AU noted that Texas passed a bill like this in 2009, and the resulting classes offered in many districts have been accused of bias. Six years ago, Mark Chancey, a religious studies professor at Southern Methodist University, surveyed courses in 60 districts around the state. Only 11 districts, Chancey found, were "especially successful in displaying academic rigor and a constitutionally sound" approach. The other 49, he found, "were a mixed bag, some were terrible."
Chancey singled out 21 districts as offering "especially egregious" instruction. For example, public school students in these courses were taught that "the Bible is written under God's direction and inspiration," Christians will at some point be "raptured," and the Founding Fathers formed our country on the principles of the Holy Bible. (Kentucky passed one of these laws as well and has had similar problems.)
Chancey addressed the issue in a Jan. 30 Washington Post opinion column, stating, "In a pluralistic democracy and an age of globalization, students and citizens need familiarity not only with sacred texts...