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An Alabama bill would allow public school districts to teach the Bible as a literary or historical elective course for students in the sixth to 12th grades.
Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence) said Senate Bill 14 will allow public schools to study the Bible and would allow school districts to display artifacts, monuments, and symbols related to the study of the Bible for educational purposes.
"It's not like were trying to force any denomination or belief or anything like that on an individual," said Melson "We're just trying to give them the option that taking the course as a history or literary course."
Melson said his bill is modeled after a Kentucky law that allows the study of the Bible. Melson also said he was approached by two people last year who wanted to teach the Bible locally for students, but they didn't feel protected enough under current laws to do so.
"They were asked to teach a class but they didn't feel like the statute was strong enough to support them. So there was an idea that getting a bill that just allows them and strengthens it in case they get challenged in court to teach the Bible as a literary course," said Melson.
The bill would allow teachers to offer an elective course on the study of the Bible. If the bill passes, the State Board of Education would have to sign off on the courses and policies surrounding it. Even then individual school districts can choose to teach the study of the Bible or not.
"The superintendent and the board do not have to offer it, so it doesn't make anything mandatory," said Melson. "It simply just says if you want to teach a literary course on the Bible and how it affected the history of the world and the U.S. in general then you would be allowed to teach it."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama said this kind of legislation is totally unnecessary and counter-productive. They said it will lure school districts into a false sense of security and opens them up to potential lawsuits.
"I don't think it's an attempt to skirt around the constitution," said Craig Bullion.
Bullion has three kids in the Alabama public school system and he says he supports Melson's bill to give students the option to study the Bible.
"It's history just like you open up a history book tell about the Civil War. There is still a history to it," said Bullion.
Melson expects the bill to be voted on sometime in March when lawmakers meet in Montgomery.
President Donald Trump also took to Twitter to show his support for bills like Melson's.
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