Oklahoma Bible Bill for 2015

One of our clandestine operatives — code named “OO” — informed us of some proposed legislation in Oklahoma. It’s discussed at the Christian Post website, which describes itself as “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website.” Their article is Bible Class Bill is Attempt to Let Public Schools Teach the Bible is True, Church-State Separation Advocacy Group Claims, and there’s a comments section at the end. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State argued that an Oklahoma bill that would protect school districts with Bible courses from legal action attempts to place a “loophole” in the law that would let public schools teach that the Bible is true.

What’s the bill, and who is sponsoring it? It’s Senate Bill 48, introduced by Senator Loveless. Here’s his page at the legislature’s website: Senator Kyle Loveless, which says that he is the Chief Operating Officer, Loveless Orthopedic Appliance and Custom Footwear and CEO and owner of Phoenix Consulting, LLC. He’s a Republican who has been in the state Senate since 2012. Here’s the text of the bill, which says, with our bold font:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:

SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 11-101.3 of Title 70, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows: A school district and its employees and agents shall incur no liability as a result of providing an elective course in the objective study of religion or the Bible.

SECTION 2. This act shall become effective July 1, 2015.

SECTION 3. It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason where of this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.

That “emergency” provision sounds crazy, but it’s what they always do in Oklahoma when they want a law to become effective immediately.

The legislature doesn’t officially convene until 02 February, so the Loveless bill has been pre-filed. The lawmakers will be in session until their scheduled adjournment date of 29 May.

Let’s get back to the Christian Post:

In an interview with local media, Loveless explained that his bill came in response to Americans United’s legal efforts against the Hobby Lobby president’s proposed course. “[Many students] were extremely disappointed in having the class cancelled,” said Loveless to the Bartlesville Examiner Enterprise.

“I don’t see anything wrong [with a provision] that gives local school districts the ability to study the historical aspects of the Bible. That’s my reasoning for the bill.” Loveless added that his proposal is “not a forced class and this would not be a ‘Sunday School’ type course. We are not endorsing one religion over the other.”

What was the course proposed by the Hobby Lobby president? We’re told:

[The] Mustang School District of Oklahoma … had approved a Bible elective course championed by Hobby Lobby Inc. President Steve Green. The School District eventually dropped the course because of concerns expressed by Americans United over its purported sectarian content.

They quote Sarah Jones of Americans United who said:

The class didn’t get pulled simply because it was about the Bible; it got pulled because it taught students that the Bible is true, and that’s a sermon, not a public school lesson.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the Loveless bill. If its purpose is to allow courses like the one the Hobby Lobby guy wanted, it’ll have trouble. However, the way it’s worded, to allow “an elective course in the objective study of religion or the Bible,” it might escape a court challenge. We shall see.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “Oklahoma Bible Bill for 2015

  1. If you had first encountered the phrase in a different context, bet you would have been very reluctant to click over to a website offering Loveless Orthopedic Appliances

  2. One wonders whether they would consider adding provisions, since this is not anything about supporting one religion rather than any other, making it clear that this applies to Bibles whether or not Tanakh, Deuterocanonical, Jeffersonian, or Gnostic?

  3. He says…’“I don’t see anything wrong [with a provision] that gives local school districts the ability to study the historical aspects of the Bible. ‘
    But this is a bold faced lie!! Because there are no historical parts of the buyBull, as 99% is made up BS.

  4. Bills roll in, bills roll out. Never an honest communication. You can’t explain that!

  5. @L.Long: right. If some brave soul actually taught a course on the “historical aspects” of the bible, the creationists would have a fit and demand it be canceled!

  6. Why try to add Bible to a public school’s curriculum? Students can have a much more churchy Bible study in, get this, SUNDAY school. Then there is no watering down finding the least common denominator issue. These legislators struggle trying to prove their religiosity too much.

  7. Doctor Stochastic

    Kin to Patty or Linda? (Though the spelling is different in the latter case.)

  8. Doctor Stochastic asks: “Kin to Patty or Linda?”

    I donno. Maybe Dr. Loveless from The Wild Wild West.

  9. “SECTION 3. It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason where of this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.”

    Poor little Okie kids are going to hell right now, so best speed up this bill and save their butts from eternal damnation as quick as they can, and also try to make this bill mandatory so those nasty non-believers will also be saved!

    And Troy said:
    “Why try to add Bible to a public school’s curriculum?”

    The fundamentalists have and continue to fume at the “separation of church and state” concept. This is their christian only nation and they’ve been fighting the concept for generations. With GW Bush and Reagan they made great inroads, and they will continue to do a full court press on the courts, legislatures, schools, people to ensure that their dream of an islamic-like caliph state is recognized here, with them in charge of course. Hobby Lobby was a disasterous blow to freedom of religion, and Huckleberry’s comments on Obama’s kids gives a not so subtle hint at their quest for mind control in the name of their religion, per them.

  10. michaelfugate

    As SC points out, these people are still fighting the Enlightenment and will continue to do so. Our only hope is their numbers get smaller with each generation.

  11. “…an elective course in the objective study of religion or the Bible.”

    Aye, and there’s the rub. And just how would Sen. Loveless propose keeping the elective course “objective”? More to the point, how could a school district’s administration guarantee the course is objective? They can’t — and they would be opening themselves to lawsuits.

  12. Mike Elzinga

    I propose a course entitled “The History of Religious Blood Wars.”

  13. There is a belief in the power of idols. If one can only place the idols everywhere, then the idols will work their magic. I remember when I heard those OT stories about how the people wanted to have their idols, how it really didn’t make any sense to me. I couldn’t imagine anyone that I knew who would think that a man-made object would have that power. But those prophets knew human nature. One of the most powerful idols is the Bible. And I don’t mean that figuratively. What would happen if some preacher-man were to destroy idols?
    (BTW, I don’t mean to encourage literal iconoclasm. I’d hope to encourage a rational respect for books and works of art. Is that too much to expect?)

  14. Anyone who believes such a course would remain genuinely elective is kidding himself (or herself). Even if it were not officially made mandatory, heavy pressure would be brought to bear. I can hear it now: To parents, “Why don’t your kids to take this class? What are you, some kind of atheistic Commie or something?” And to students, the message would be, “Why won’t you take this course? All the other kids are.” Parents and kids alike who refused would be ostracized, perhaps even threatened.

    This sort of thing is exactly why religious instruction, “objective” or not, doesn’t belong in the public schools. And by the sound of it, this course is anything but objective by any definition except, perhaps, that of Fox News.

  15. @Eric Lipps: Right on! Write on!

  16. What if they gave a Bible class and nobody came? That’s what happened in the Permian School District in Odessa, Texas. They passed the rool, got the course but came up short finding a teacher willing to conduct it or, more importantly, students to sign up. It appears that the students were more interested in taking classes that would actually further their education. The elective quietly sank out of sight.