by Kentucky Today –
FRANKFORT — Having declared 2017 the Year of the Bible, Gov. Matt Bevin has now signed two bills into law to make clear to teachers and administrators that Scripture is welcome in Kentucky public schools.
Bevin signed legislation into law on Tuesday to allow schoolchildren to take Bible literacy classes as electives.
The law directs the Kentucky Department of Education to develop policies that allow public schools to offer Bible courses.
That was one of dozens of bills signed by Bevin last week.
Last month, the governor signed a bill into law clarifying students can express religious and political viewpoints in public schools and on college campuses without interference from administrators.
State Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, sponsored the legislation after a Johnson County elementary schools removed biblical references from a presentation of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Carol.”
The law affirms rights already in place, but had been misunderstood by some teachers and administrators.
Robinson said he felt the legislation was necessary to make clear to educators that biblical references are in no way forbidden from campuses.
“Having seen so many students and teachers needlessly hurt by administrators who misunderstood religious liberty protections already in place, I believe these new laws will go a long way to clear misconceptions,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the 750,000-member Kentucky Baptist Convention.
“I’m glad that Governor Bevin and lawmakers have enacted these laws to make clear that the Bible is perfectly acceptable on school campuses and in classrooms.”
Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, said Bible classes are popular among Kentucky students in schools where they’re already offered. And, Carroll said, “the sky didn’t fall” because the Bible was being used as a school textbook.
Sen. C.B. Embry, R-Morgantown, said children need a basic understanding of the Bible.
“I don’t think there is another document in the history of our culture that has had more impact on our culture, our society or our values than the Bible,” Embry said.
The measure had backing from most of the Democrats in the Republican-led Senate, including Robin Webb of Grayson.
“This gives some level of protection to the districts that do this, because it will provide a framework to pass constitutional muster and scrutiny, and requires the Kentucky Department of Education to conform to federal law,” she said.